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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.
This year was all about alternating weather patterns. A particularly wet winter gave way to a warm and dry spring. May saw some rain, and even though late June-brought about a minor heatwave, the remainder of the summer was moist and murky. Disease pressure was lifted but once again fine, hot September weather was able to save and concentrate the crop. A large crop (11,553 kg/ha) was picked from September 8th onwards. The year's biggest problem was the sour rot caused by the drosophila suzukii flies. It, and the challenging weather, demanded plenty of care and selection work in the vineyards. The results are variable. The year was especially demanding for Pinot Meunier from the Vallée de la Marne, which received a lot of rainfall and was troubled by both mildew and sour rot. With an average potential alcohol of 10.0% and total acidity of 8.3 g/l, 2014 looks good on paper and so too in the glass, despite its challenges. The successful wines come with attractive fruit, lovely vibrant acidity and an overt easiness to them.