Champagne is not just a drink, it’s a state of mind and an experience. Among the many champagnes I have tasted and enjoyed, Taittinger is special – a champagne that first came across my radar when Vijay Mallya made a failed bid to buy it in 2007 and acquired Bouvet Ladubay instead, writes Reva K. Singh
The ebullient and charismatic owner, Pierre-Emmanuel entertained guests with interesting anecdotes and humour at a dinner arranged by Prestige Wines and Spirits a few years ago in Delhi. The market leader among Champagnes worldwide is Moët & Chandon, said Pierre-Emmanuel, appreciating its role in opening up international markets for other champagnes. Pierre-EmmanuelTaittinger, however, is a market leader in his own way. Disregarding wine scores and pricing, his professed goal is to offer “affordable luxury”. Given India’s high rate of taxation, however, affordable is a moot point.
Nicolas Delion, Taittinger’s Export Manager for Asia Pacific, was in Delhi this March to re-introduce Indian wine lovers to Taittinger Champagne. The champagnes presented to the trade and media at the Oval Bar of the recently opened JW Marriott Hotel at Aerocity (pictured, left), were Brut Reserve NV (Rs 5,800) Champagne Prestige Rosé (Rs 7,900) and Nocturne Sec (Rs 7,500). With its eye-catching purple bottle, Nocturne is aimed at “trendy bars and nightclubs”. As a sec Champagne it has a dosage of 20 g/l .
For me Rosés are the crème de la crème of Champagnes, produced by adding some Pinot Noir red wine to the bottle during second fermentation. Good rosés are expensive and not common. They are more challenging to make and constitute just a fraction of all Champagne exports.
Although most Champagne is made from the three Champagne grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – another rare and special style is Blanc de Blancs, (literally white from whites in French) made exclusively with Chardonnay grapes. A number of houses make a Blanc de Blancs, but very few, like Taittinger, Salon and Krug among them, are known for their consistent quality displaying maximum finesse, lightness and elegance.
(Read more in Sommelier India, April-May 2014)