It will be greater than comprehensible in case you are pondering, “Not one other 2008 champagne!” A fast look by means of the information exhibits this to be the sixth from that classic that I’ve highlighted right here; I guarantee you they’re all greater than worthy of the eye given them. It is a spectacular classic.
I’ve additionally centered on 2012, having checked out 5 of the champagnes from that classic to this point. The 2008 and 2012 are very totally different vintages, however each are great, the very best of this century (2002 could be a worthy runner-up, and 2018, when it hits the cabinets, may problem it).
The 2012 classic was an ideal Pinot Noir yr and the wines are wealthy and full-flavored. In all probability the years it most resembles are 1996 and 1990. The 2008 is extra of a Chardonnay classic, classical and stylish, extra delicate and restrained. As I’ve talked about beforehand, it jogs my memory of the astonishing 1988 classic. Good examples from each years will cellar for a number of a long time in good situations.
Some classic memory
The 1988 classic is an attention-grabbing one, if I could reminisce. The Champenois had been determined for classic because the final glorious yr was 1985, however that was a particularly small crop. Nineteen eighty-six was an affordable yr however, as my father would have mentioned, there weren’t that many wines to jot down residence about. I keep in mind the 1986 Pol Roger Blanc de Chardonnay (now known as a Blanc des Blancs) as the very best I tasted from that yr. I can’t consider any champagnes launched from 1987, although I’m positive there should have been a couple of – definitely nothing of notice.
So when 1988 got here alongside, it was embraced, though on the time, way more in hope than expectation. It was ok to be launched as a classic, which was desperately wanted, and to supply reserve wines for the longer term. However there have been solely a only a few satisfied of its greatness (and I most definitely was not one among them). The beneficiant and pleasant 1989s had been thought-about superior, and 1990 was seen as head and shoulders above them each.
My first go to to the Champagne area was in 1993 and I spoke with quite a few homes about vintages. It was universally acknowledged on the time that 1990 was the very best by far; 1989 was superb; and 1988 introduced up the rear.
I used to be again a yr or two later and there was some rethinking taking place: 1990 was nonetheless the star, however for a lot of 1988 had come by means of on the rails and was pipping 1989.
Again once more a few years after that and issues had undoubtedly modified. Whereas not many had been placing 1988 first (some had been), most conceded it to be at the very least the equal in high quality of 1990. Poor previous 1989 was lagging effectively behind. The explanation, I imagine, was merely that 1988 was a really restrained, pristine, elegant classic, one among purity and laser-focused acidity that hid its glories for a while.
Nineteen eighty-eight is the last word instance of a classic sneaking in below the radar. That’s far much less prone to occur lately as every thing is below a lot scrutiny. Again then, you actually needed to wait until the wines had been launched, however now each facet of the climate, strategies within the vineyard, mixing, and extra are all below the microscope.
Which might clarify why 2008 was getting individuals excited even earlier than they’d completed harvesting the grapes. Based on the group at Taittinger, 2008 was “heat but contemporary – the proper expression of our continental local weather in Champagne.” It was particularly thrilling for Blanc des Blancs kinds.
If the world is a stability of swings and roundabouts, then the devastation of the monetary markets all through 2008 was greater than offset by the glories that had been to return from the vineyards in Champagne. Though it’s more likely that the 2 are on no account linked.
Why overview the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc des Blancs 2008?
You could be asking your self why trouble reviewing yet one more 2008 – we’ve obtained the image.
For starters, it’s a nice yr. Subsequent, the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne simply could be the very best of all of them. A call resembling that can come down to non-public preferences, after all, however this champagne has a litany of excessive scores – most vary from 98 to 100 – and reward from critics.
It was additionally named the very best champagne of 2021 by the extremely regarded Superb Champagne journal. I do know the group behind the journal very effectively and I understand how significantly it takes its champers. It isn’t the primary time that Taittinger’s Comtes has gained this award, both; the Taittinger 2000 gained in 2012. Different winners through the years have included the Uncommon 2002, Cristal Rosé 2002, Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle No. 22, Moët & Chandon MCIII 1.14, and Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006. Good firm.
Comtes de Champagne is the flagship of the home of Taittinger and was one of many earlier flagships ever launched. The primary classic was 1952 (use of the identify was licensed by Depend Guillaume, the final descendant of the Comtes de Champagne) and there have solely been 36 vintages since then.
The identify got here from the tales of the counts of Champagne from centuries previous. Specifically, Thibaud IV, King of Navarre and a person who “embodied the peak of the political, financial and creative affect of Champagne from 1222 to 1253.” He was alleged to have returned from the Crusades with two treasures: the Damask rose (gardeners amongst us could be conscious that it was apparently grafted on to the Gallica rose, widespread all through Europe, and apparently all roses now grown in Europe come from this crossing) and a brand new grape, the ancestor of the Chardonnay.
The residence of Thibaud IV has belonged to the Taittinger household since 1932, who has undertaken appreciable renovations.
Comtes de Champagne is, after all, a Blanc des Blancs (100% Chardonnay) and there’s no higher web site in Champagne for Chardonnay than the legendary Côte des Blancs. Ninety-five p.c of its vineyards are planted to this grape. The soils are dominated by chalk and the vineyards predominantly face east, giving them optimum sunshine.
Solely grapes from 5 Grand Crus within the Côte des Blancs are ever used to make Comtes: Cramant, Avize, Chouilly, Oger, and Mesnil-sur-Oger, though apparently in sure vintages Taittinger does like to incorporate a small proportion from the Premier Cru Pierry, although this didn’t occur in 2008.
Solely first urgent juice is used, and the wine does bear malolactic fermentation. Manufacturing is estimated at between 100,000 and 300,000 bottles per yr, relying on the classic, though in 1995 Taittinger managed 500,000 bottles.
Round 5 p.c of the mix spends time in oak, simply 4 months. One-third of the barrels are refreshed yearly from the Seguin Moreau cooperages. I keep in mind my first go to to Taittinger a few years in the past once I noticed the brand new barrels. I assumed I used to be onto a scoop of Woodward/Bernstein proportions, however Taittinger has at all times been utterly upfront about this, believing it contributes that one thing particular to the wine.
The bottles, which may simply spend ten years on lees, achieve this within the well-known Gallo-Roman chalk quarries below the previous Saint-Nicaise Abbey in Reims, carved from the chalk within the fourth century. These chalk crayères have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage web site.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc des Blancs 2008: stats and historical past
The wine was disgorged in July 2019. Its closing launch was delayed as a result of COVID-19 issues across the globe, however when it hit the cabinets eager consumers had been on to it in a flash.
Dosage is attention-grabbing. Lately, it’s round 9 to 10 grams/liter (9 for the 2008), however again within the Seventies it was round 17 grams/liter. The discount, which I imagine results in higher wines generally, is partly as a result of decreasing sweetness is the development at this time and likewise as a measure attributable to local weather change: we’re seeing hotter vintages and riper grapes, diminishing the necessity for prime dosages.
There may be additionally a Comtes de Champagne Rosé although it’s hardly ever seen lately. It was a favourite of the well-known dancer Rudolph Nureyev, who mentioned, “Once I drink Comtes de Champagne Rosé, I now not dance, I fly . . . ”
Why is the Côte des Blancs and its well-known chalky soils such a particular web site for Chardonnay in Champagne? Taittinger’s winery supervisor, Christelle Rinville, explains it effectively: “Chalk acts like a sponge. It captures water and holds it by means of capillary motion which not solely facilitates glorious soil drainage and gives crops with a daily provide of amino acids and mineral salts – the precursors of aromas – but additionally contributes minerality which is revealed at a later stage within the wines.”
The home is as soon as extra in household fingers – it was bought off to the U.S. funding agency Starwood in 2005, however later repurchased in 2007 because the household realized how vital the enterprise was to it. This was all fairly outstanding. The choice to promote after 60 years within the Champagne enterprise got here as a result of, as does appear to occur in French households, the estates and enterprise had many homeowners: 38 heirs (French probate laws, if I could make a really broad generalization, sees estates divided amongst all heirs/kids and so it solely takes a couple of generations for there to be many homeowners; it’s, after all, way more complicated than that however you get the final gist of it).
Additionally included was Baccarat crystal and 14 luxurious accommodations, together with the Crillon in Paris and the Martinez in Cannes.
The worth was €2.1 billion (fast relations have talked about how devastated they had been however I’d think about that type of cash would go a good distance towards easing the ache). Solutions from a number of the members that that they had misplaced every thing appear a contact exaggerated, particularly when you possibly can then flip round and lift $850 million, as you’ll quickly see, however I assume every thing is relative.
However for Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, on the time president of the home, and his household, there are some issues extra vital than cash. He was decided to get the champagne enterprise again. Starwood was seeking to transfer it on, and Pierre-Emmanuel was up towards round 50 different bidders, together with such giants as Pernod Ricard, LVMH, Freixenet, and Louis Roederer. Nonetheless, towards the percentages, he managed to boost the required $850 million and Taittinger was in household fingers once more (the acquisition included the Californian operation, Domaine Carneros).
Right this moment, Vitalie Taittinger is the president of the home, succeeding her father, Pierre-Emmanuel, on January 1, 2020. Elder brother Clovis works alongside her as managing director, taking care of the worldwide markets. It is a partnership that clearly works because the wines, at all times great, have by no means been higher.
Taittinger was initially based by Pierre-Emmanuel’s grandfather, Pierre Taittinger, in 1932. Pierre had been quartered at Château de la Marquetterie in 1915 whereas in navy service. He was so taken with the place that when he had the chance in 1932 to purchase the château, he did so. After which he based the enterprise.
Alexandre Ponnavoy has been the chef du cave since 2018. He changed Loïc Dupont, who had been there for 30 years. Ponnavoy, beforehand at Louis Roederer, has been at Taittinger since 2015.
I’ve talked about the well-known crayères cellars. These had been carved out of the chalk by the Romans (or at the very least their slaves), offering them with 4 kilometers of tunnels below the city of Reims. Taittinger owns practically 300 hectares of vineyards and has plots in each Grand Cru. Manufacturing is estimated at round six million bottles yearly. Taittinger has an operation in California (Domaine Carneros) and is establishing one in England, the primary Champagne home to take that step.
With the brand new James Bond movie No Time to Die lastly opening across the globe, it might even be improper to not point out that in pre-Bolly days, Taittinger was 007’s favourite champagne. This dates again to the times earlier than there even was a Comtes made by the home.
Taittinger was the primary and final champagne talked about within the books (On line casino Royale and a brief story referred to as 007 in New York printed after Ian Fleming’s loss of life). In On line casino Royale, Bond asks for a bottle of the 1945 Taittinger after a win on the on line casino. The sommelier suggests the Blanc de Blancs Brut 1943. Bond notes that although Taittinger isn’t a well known model, “it’s most likely the best champagne on the planet.”
Fleming echoes his hero’s tastes in a letter to Claude Taittinger in 1963. Within the latter brief story, the Taittinger Rosé was to be served with scrambled eggs and “low music.” In Moonraker, after one other profitable card sport, Bond’s want record included “a couple of dozen of the Taittinger champagne” to go together with a Bentley convertible and a set of the best golf golf equipment.
Taittinger additionally featured within the movie From Russia with Love.
There was additionally one other connection: the son of Desmond Llewelyn, who performed Q in so lots of the films, was Taittinger’s British model ambassador for many years.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc des Blancs 2008 tasting notes
Comtes de Champagne is undoubtedly a champagne that advantages from additional time within the cellar, and this particularly applies to the 2008. A lot in order that I discovered it distressingly troublesome to carry myself to open the bottle. It felt a tiny bit like I used to be eradicating a bit of the enjoyment from the world. I obtained over that surprisingly shortly as if I didn’t then another person would.
For me, a really beautiful wine, an ideal champagne. These calling it the best Comtes of all will get no argument from me, although the 1990 and 1996 had been fairly spectacular. As had been ’00 and ’02. However I’m not positive any of those managed to climb to those heights.
The colour is an interesting limpid yellow inexperienced. The nostril explodes with flavors: stone fruits, hazelnuts, marzipan, limes, peaches, cashews, and floral notes. A touch of that magic chalk? Mouthfilling flavors on the palate with a gloriously creamy texture. The stability is ideal, and the construction is backed by crisp, inexperienced apple acidity.
There are early hints of the complexity to return. The wine has critical depth and but walks the tightrope of finesse, class, and delicacy. Slight hints of heat toast towards the end. The end is so long as I can recall on a champagne for a really very long time.
Effectively-cellared, this has 20 years or extra forward of it. I’d give it 99, solely as a result of I do know that there’s extra to return. A really monumental champagne. Promote your kids if crucial, however make sure you have got a few of this astonishing wine in your cellar.
For extra data, please go to www.taittinger.com/en/comtes-de-champagne