FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Flutes of Fancy: Champagne Taittinger Offers a Taste of Luxury and an Invitation to Daily Indulgence

by Kelly Magyarics

Dec 11, 2023

© Kelly Magyarics

December 2023

There are visits to a wine region … and then there is a visit to Champagne. Champagne is imbued with the magic of the iconic chalk soils of the Côtes des Blancs that lend the wines elegance and finesse, the stately châteaux adorned with signs of the world’s most recognizable brands, and the carved-out caves where bottles topped off with an alchemic cocktail of yeast and sugar glean their signature effervescence. Whether you’re a bubbly aficionado or a novice, Champagne Taittinger provides the perfect place to learn more about what makes this a wine region par excellence.

The Champagne Taittinger house dates to 1734, but the Taittinger family has run it for just the last century. For the past 40 years, Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger helmed the brand; he recently passed the torch to his daughter, Vitalie, who currently serves as president, and his son Clovis, who assumed the role of general manager. Notions of timelessness and sophistication instill the family philosophy. They also believe, however, their Champagne shouldn’t be reserved solely for life’s big milestones and celebrations but embraced and enjoyed during the little, special moments we encounter every day as well.

A visit to Champagne Taittinger embodies this synergy of luxury and approachability. Tastings take place in Reims at the Demeure des Comtes de Champagne, a 13th-century house thought to be the urban dwelling of Thibaud IV, the crusader and explorer who was the King of Navarre and Count of Champagne. Guests are welcomed to a room reminiscent of a church, with a wrought-iron chandelier, a large rectangular table flanked by pillar candles and an “altar” upon which sit a handful of Taittinger expressions, uncorked and ready for swirling and sipping.

Champagne

© Kelly Magyarics

Available in French or English, the 50-minute experience provides an overview of the brand’s history and two different tasting options. Those who opt for L’Instant Rosé receive a glass of Brut Réserve, with notes of peach, acacia and honey; and one of Prestige Rosé, where the addition of 15 percent of still red wine renders the vibrant pink hue and intense fruity notes of wild raspberries and cherries. The more luxe L’Instant Gourmet includes a glass of Brut Vintage 2016, made with equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 70 percent of them from Grands Crus vineyards, aged five years in the cellar and offering aromas of pear, verbena and kumquat and flavors of honeysuckle and bitter orange peel. Oenophiles will also sip Prélude Grands Crus, made using grapes from the top Grands Crus vineyards; these add full, rich, complex tones of elderflowers, citrus, cinnamon and white peaches.

Spring for the higher-end tasting and you’ll try Comtes de Champagne, Taittinger’s tête de cuvée named for Thibaud IV. The house’s very best offering is made only in the top vintages and aged up to a decade.

If you want a peek at the wine cellars, you’ll have to settle for a virtual tour until next year’s reopening, which will also see a complete revamp of the visitor experience. This will include a dining experience and concept store at Taittiinger’s property, Château de la Marquetterie, a Louis Quinze 18th-century manor near Épernay. Hold a chilled glass of Taittinger’s vintage Brut, its tiny bubbles trailing up to the fine mousse on the surface, and you’ll feel as urbane and cosmopolitan as Voltaire and the other French literati known to frequent this estate during harvest time. La belle vie, indeed.

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