The Grande Marque Champagne house of Taittinger was formerly the house of Forest-Fourneaux, founded in the middle of the 18th century. The transformation into its current guise began when it was bought in 1934 by a former cavalry officer from Alsace, Pierre Taittinger, and his brother-in-law Paul Evêque.
Pierre had dreamed of owning a Champagne house since he had been appointed to a general’s staff in Épernay during the First World War and moved back there in 1932. Having bought the Champagne house two years later Pierre’s political career took off and much of the early running of the business was done by Paul and his sons.
As the Second World War began, Pierre’s son François joined the firm, and by 1945 he was running it. He did so with great vision, changing the name to Taittinger and directing his brother Jean to make improvements in the vineyards, the basis of all great wines, before his untimely death in 1960.
It was François’ son Claude who picked up the reins in 1960 and over the years he led an expansion of Taittinger, with 140 hectares more vineyards, a move into the Loire by buying sparkling wine house Bouvet Ladubay, acquiring a hotel chain, interests in construction and printing and acquiring Domaine Carneros in California’s Napa Valley. Despite Claude’s tireless work to promote the house this expansion led to takeover bids that culminated in the sale of Taittinger outside the family in 2006.
Happily for the family, the new ownership was short lived and in 2008 Claude’s nephew Pierre-Emanuel Taittinger was able to buy the business back and now works with his daughter Vitalie and his son Clovis to run this Grande Marque with great aplomb. As he puts it: ‘We cultivate vines, not egos at Taittinger’.
Indeed, the wines have improved under Pierre-Emanuel’s custodianship, blending pinot noir and chardonnay with great skill across the various elegant cuvées except for the flagship Comtes des Champagne which is an impressive expression of 100% chardonnay from only grand cru sites. This is a great house on great form.