We tasted: Comtes de Champagne 1994

tasting in the nature
the beautiful sunset at the “Cruz de Tejeda” parador, Gran Canary, Spain (on the back the volcanic mount of Teide, Tenerife island)

Taittinger became a famous champagne house only after 1960, when Claude Taittinger, the second son of Pierre Taittinger became director of the house. Until 2005, when the house was sold to an investment firm —Starwood Capital Group (U.S.)— Claude has strengthened its position on the market joining the most famous champagne houses. But the ancient history of the house starts in 1932 when Pierre Taittinger, descendant of an old wine trading family, bought the Château de la Marquetterie from the wine house of Forest-Fourneaux (established 1734 by Jacques Fourneaux) and the vineyards around it (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir since the 18th Century). This property had been developed by Jean Oudart, a Benedictine monk, one of the founding fathers of champagne wine, which later belonged to the writer Jacques Cazotte.

After becoming part of the American investment group in 2005, several problems became evident… leading a champagne house requires patience to obtain a quality wine, trust (a large delegation of authority to the cellar masters), and a very good understanding of champagne industry’s processes and techniques. After less than one year, the Northeast Regional Bank of the Crédit Agricole, in collaboration with Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, bought the business back for 660 million euros. The area covers 288.84 hectares of vineyards and has 12 to 13 million bottles in stock. The Château de la Marquetterie and its cellars were part of the overall purchase.

Now, it’s time to focus on this Taittinger’s prestige cuvée, Comtes de Champagne millésime 1994, a blanc de blancs made of 6 Grand Cru lots in the Côte des Blancs (Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Oger and Mesnil-sur-Oger) and kept around 10 years on lies, in the chalky pits of the Saint-Nicaise monastery (Les Crayères, Reims) to achive the complexity and the ballance desired. Part of the wine (5%) was aged for 4 month in new oak barrels, enhancing the qualities and complexities of the final blend. We witnessed all of this magic and subtle layers during our tasting, despite the regrettable loss of almost all of the bubbles. On the nose it showed very complex and rich with hints of orange peel, figs marmalade, dried fruits, ripe apples, brown bread and a lovely note of caramel/butterscotch. On the palate it is elegant, high in acidity, toasty, balanced, and the aftertaste is dominated by its minerality. This champagne has to be open at least 30 minutes before serving to let it open and enjoy it at fully. It is an earthy champagne, fully mature. If you are lucky to find it, drink it now… don’t keep it longer.

Type of champagneBrut
Vintage1994
Grapes100% Chardonnay
MaisonTaittinger
Village/terroirAvize, Chouilly, Cramant, Oger, Mesnil-sur-Oger
Degorgement2004
Agedsur lies 10 years
DosageN/A (6-12g)
Sizebottle (75cl)
Number of bottlesN/A
Price range (euro)350-400
Chef de CavesLoïc Dupont (<2018), Alexandre Ponnavoy (>2018)
Other considerentsfirst vintage in 1952
sunset and champagne

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