We caught up with Vitalie Taittinger at BAFTA in London to discuss the joys of drinking old vintages of Taittinger's famed Comtes De Champagne, as well as her excitement for English terroir and a quick insight into the 2016 harvest in Champagne.
Nick B: I was talking to someone from another Champagne House and they said to me: “Taittinger Comtes de Champagne is great but the older vintages are special!” What would be your most memorable vintage?
Vitalie: The one I keep in mind is the ’71 in magnum. It was fantastic because of the freshness and the energy in the wine!
Nick B: And the occasion?
Vitalie: With good friends… they love wine… sometimes you want to share a taste that you cannot find everywhere, so you are very happy to get out an old bottle and share it with good friends!
Nick B: Many French vigneron’s have invested in wine production outside of France. What are your expectations for Taittinger in England?
Vitalie: My expectation is to discover a very good terroir… I just want to make something that is fantastic!
Nick B: Will you be looking to create a wine that Taittinger lovers will recognise or is it something new, or is it as yet not known?
Vitalie: “I’m not sure the big fans of Taittinger will recognise the style or something like that… but maybe a little bit... it’s too early to say. We have to taste!!
Nick B: With all the expertise from centuries of production in Champagne, do you foresee a growing camaraderie between the new English sparkling wine producers and their more experienced cousins in France?
Vitalie: I cannot think that it will be anything but a camaraderie affair because we are producing wine, because we love friendship and we love sharing. For me, it is the first thing we have to do. That is why we are doing this with Patrick McGrath from Hatch Mansfield… it’s a friendship affair!
Nick B: Taittinger is a family run business; do you think, as a drink, or even as a brand, Taittinger carries the spirit and personality of the family?
Vitalie: [Laughing] Yes, definitely! You were talking about special taste. I think we are producing the champagne that we love to drink. When you are a family affair… a family company, you choose the wine you are making, you choose the blending, you work with the cellar master… at each stage you have an impact!
Nick B: The 2016 harvest is now in full swing across the Champagne region. 2016 sounds like its been a difficult year in the vineyards, what is your view?
Vitalie: The year in terms of weather has been a disaster. We have lost a lot of quantity in Cote de Bar. I think what we have in our vineyard is very good. So I am confident in the quality. The quality will be there but the quantity will not!
Interview recorded at the Hatch Mansfield Portfolio tasting, BAFTA, Piccadilly, London.