Monday, January 27, 2014

A Toast to Taittinger

A few weeks back Paul and I attended a wine dinner at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY featuring Taittinger Champagnes. I was really looking forward to learning about the Champagne House and its history, but unfortunately the rep from Kobrand lectured on the process on how to make Champagne.  I was a bit disappointed on the lecture part of the evening, but the bubbly and food did not disappoint.

Seems like Taittinger has a bit of a history that had the house going from one owner to another and back again.  It all began back in 1734 by Jacques Fourneaux who established a wine business in Champagne and worked closely with the Benedictine Abbeys which owned the best vineyards in that region. In 1870 the Taittinger family who were a family of wine merchants moved to the Paris area from Lorraine to retain their French citizenship after the Franco-Prussian War and the Treaty of Frankfurt.

Around 1912 Pierre-Charles Taittinger was working with one of his brother-in-laws running a company distributing and exporting Champagne. It was during WWI as a cavalry officer Pierre made his first visit to Chateau de la Marquetterie near Epernay where he fell in love with the propertyv.  In 1932 Pierre returned and purchased the Chateau from the house of Forest-Fourneaux.

From 1945 to 1960 the business was run by Pierre's son Francios until an accident claimed his life.  It was then that his brother Claude took over and directed the business until 2005. It was during this time that Taittinger became recognized as one of the fine producers of Champagne.

In July 2005 Taittinger sold the house to Starwood Hotels.  You might question what on earth is large hotel company in the United States doing purchasing a French Champagne house?  They must of asked themselves the same question because in May 2006 Starwood sold the House back to Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, Claude's nephew for 660 million euros.  Today Pierre-Emmanuel runs the business along with his daughter Vitalie and son Clovis.

Now for the Champagne and dinner!  We began tasting 5 Taittinger Champagnes, later all but the Brut La Francaise were paired with dinner.

Brut La Francaise is non-vintage and a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Oir, 25% Pinot Meunier. A bready, lemony chalky nose this bubbly showed expressions of minerality and apple with a full mouth feel.


Prestige Rose is a blend of 30% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier.  This Champagne had a beautiful salmon color and a nose of mulled strawberries.  Maceration for 1-2 weeks and aged for three years the palate was smooth with hints of blackberries.  This was paired with Cured Scottish Salmon (Saumon Ecossais Durci) with Smoked Fingerling Potatoes, Blood Orange Cells and Yuzu and Black Radishes. Gorgeous I must say and thoroughly enjoyed!  The Rose totally complemented all the flavors in this dish.

2005 Brut Millesime a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from a single vineyard and spent 5 years on the lees. Aromas of pear, green apple, bread and a hint of nuttiness on the nose.  The wine was creamy velvet on your mouth with complex tart green apple flavors.  Paired with Nantucket Bay Scallops (Coquille Saint-Jacques Poelee) with Parsnip Puree, Pickled Grapes (they were good!!) Fermented Mustard Seeds, and Lobster-Squid Ink Sauce.  The pickled grapes were amazing!  The scallops just melted in your mouth.

Prelude Grands Crus is a non vintage Champage, a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir that was aged for 5 years.  This Champagne nose was creamy with aromas of baked bread.  Higher in acidity and fresher in taste with tart red apple.  Paired with Roasted Guinea Hen (Pintade Rotie), Chestnut Puree, Sweet Potatoes in an Apple Foie Gras Sauce. OMG, the sauce made this dish!  If there was any way I could replicate it I would and I might just try. The pairing, wonderful and it brought out the flavors in the sauce like you wouldn't believe.

Nocturne Sec a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier.  This ending Champagne had a slight musty nose with a touch of sweetness.  Quite frankly, I was expecting it to be much sweeter than it was.  It paired perfectly with the Goat CheeseCake (Gateau au Fromage), Carrot Cake Pillow, Seasonal Fruit, Quince Sorbet, Balsamic Vinegar Syrup.






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