The greatest thing about touring Champagne houses are the caves. Taittinger has two cellars in Reims. One in the city centre, which holds 6 million bottles, and one where the old Abbey stood, which houses 2 million of large format bottles and the reserve Comtes de Champagne. This is where you visit. It is an impressive experience (and once I have worked out how to upload photos from the ipad or found an internet cafe, I will share some photos).
The tasting started with the traditional blend, a widely available Brut, composed of 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier. This Champagne is fresh and well balanced. It has good effervescence, length on the palate and some toasty characters. The 2008 Vintage Champagne takes it up a notch. It consists of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. This Champagne has more weight, but is very elegant and rounded. It consists only of premier cru and grand cru grapes.
Taittinger is fortunate in that it owns 290ha of vines, more than most others and 50% of its needs, and 30% comes from grand cru villages. I did a quick calculation: 1ha is worth 1 million euros in Champage, so there is 300million tied up in capital. There is another 500million or so in inventory, which they can afford to keep and mature in the caves. How many are in this position? Entry barriers are high, and because of the regulations, not much is changing. The two wines I tasted here were good, but I would like to see a much more dynamic environment (and yes I know, many growers are starting to do it for themselves).
* - Barossa Valley, SA* * - $50-$120* - Cork - 13.5%alc *Joseph or Black Shiraz? My mind shudders at the thought of picking a favourite sparkling red. I lo...