Taittinger is a Champagne house founded in 1734 in Reims. However it wasn’t until 1932 that the Taittinger family purchased the estate and renamed it after their family. Pierre Taittinger was a cavalry officer in World War I who returned from the war and fell in love with the Champagne region. He was able to buy the vineyards in 1932 and was soon buying more land. Today Taittinger Champagne owns 752 acres of vineyards, making it one of the largest in the region. The estate’s flagship wines are the Comtes de Champagne, made of 100% Chardonnay, and Comtes de Champagne Rose, made of 100% Pinot Noir. Taittinger is also noteworthy for its program of commissioning internationally acclaimed artists to make labels.
Champagne is a small, beautiful wine growing region northeast of Paris whose famous name is misused a million times a day. As wine enthusiasts and all French people are well aware, only sparkling wines produced in Champagne from grapes grown in Champagne can be called Champagne. Sparkling wines produced anywhere else, including in other parts of France, must be called something besides Champagne. Champagne producers are justifiably protective of their wines and the prestige associated with true Champagne. Though the region was growing grapes and making wines in ancient times, it began specializing in sparkling wine in the 17th century, when a Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Pérignon formulated a set guidelines to improve the quality of the local sparkling wines. Despite legends to the contrary, Dom Pérignon did not “invent” sparkling wine, but his rules about aggressive pruning, small yields and multiple pressings of the grapes were widely adopted, and by the 18th and 19th centuries Champagne had become the wine of choice in fashionable courts and palaces throughout Europe. Today there are 75,000 acres of vineyards in Champagne growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne’s official appellation system classifies villages as Grand Cru or Premier Cru, though there are also many excellent Champagnes that simply carry the regional appellation. Along with well-known international Champagne houses there are numerous so-called “producer Champagnes,” meaning wines made by families who, usually for several or more generations, have worked their own vineyards and produced Champagne only from their own grapes.