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With 288 hectares of vines, the Taittinger family are one of the largest vineyard owners in Champagne. Their holdings provide half of their needs for their annual Champagne production. Such extensive vineyard ownership is viewed as a way to control quality, but the company also concentrates on workforce management.
A system of task-related employee contracts has been adopted over the last 20 years at Taittinger, replacing hourly contracts. Today, each employee has sole responsibility for about three hectares of vines, including a requirement to meet specified yields. In other words, they work in a similar way to independent growers and are paid by the task rather than by the hour.
Worlds #2 Champagne 2012 by Champagne Magazine.
Champagne Taittinger only produces a vintage when the harvest is of exceptional quality. The bottles are first aged in the cellars for several years
– allowing the aromas to slowly mature and the wine to develop length and complexity – before they are ready to be enjoyed.
Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2004 is exclusively blended from first press wines.
It consists of Chardonnay (50%) and Pinot Noir (50%) harvested mostly from the Grands Crus in Montagne de Reims and the borders of the Vallée de la Marne.
The 2004 harvest.
Despite its unremarkable weather conditions, 2004 is an exuberant vintage. Although winter was cold, there was no period of intense chill. Spring was very pleasant with little rainfall. The blossoming was very steady, beginning in mid-June amidst cool temperatures.
Cool and seldom sunny, summer was dry until mid-August when a much needed period of rain commenced. The return of the sun and warmth at the beginning of September helped the fruit ripen. The harvest, which started with the Chardonnays on 20 September, proved to be one of the most abundant in the history of the Champagne region. The grapes were very healthy and of excellent quality.
The Chardonnays were of remarkable quality: balanced, complex, long, fresh and invigorating. The Pinots Noirs were elegant and well structured.
Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2004 has a pale yet radiant yellow colour. The clean effervescence gives off an abundance of bubbles rising to form a lingering ring of foam.
The first impression on the nose combines flintiness and yeasty bread aromas. This quickly gives way to a fine, intense, sweet fruitiness, as scents of crystallized lemon, mandarin fruit drops and a flowery touch of acacia honey emerge.
On the palate, the fruity entry is sublimely crisp and rich. The mid-palate is balanced, structured and smooth, releasing sugary pink grapefruit flavours.
The long, generous and complex finish is especially lively.
Despite its youth, Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2004 already possesses a remarkable balance between finesse, elegance and delectability.
Its immeasurable freshness suggests excellent ageing potential.
Ideal as an aperitif, this wine is also the ideal accompaniment to fish in sauce or white meats.
A great example of how large yields do not necessarily mean poor quality in Champagne. As a reaction to the previous year's low yields, the vines produced one of the largest crops on record. The growing season proceeded without major difficulties but the bumper crop called for bud thinning. August brought about cooler weather and some rains, increasing the risk of rot. The massive crop, averaging 13,990 kg/ha, was picked from September 18th onwards. The quality was a pleasant surprise; vibrant wines with appropriate intensity, refined charm and refreshing lightness. This vintage impresses me more and more, and I feel tempted to give it the full five stars. It comes with a rare balance of freshness, lightness, yet fine aromatic intensity. Post-release, this vintage has proven to be slow to age, and elegant wines are likely to keep on ageing gracefully. Dom Pérignon and Louis Roederer Cristal both excelled.