The family business – which was founded in 1734 and which, after a few sales and buy-backs, is still owned by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger with his children Vitalie and Clovis ‒ announced in late 2015 that it planned to produce English sparkling wine.
The official ceremony to mark this first planting stage is set to take place on 3 May this year.
The first bottles are expected to be ready in five years’ time, under the brand Domaine Evremond, from 69 hectares of land at Selling Court farm in Kent.
The name comes from 17th century French soldier and royal court exile Charles de Saint-Evremond, who is said to have helped first introduce London to a version of the classic French drink, and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Champagne Taittinger is produced in the French town of Reims, but the company has said that the chalky Kent soil, and the south-facing aspect, will help it expand and diversify its reach and products. Its distributor in the UK is Hatch Mansfield, whose managing director Patrick McGrath has played a key role in the Kent project.
(Photo: Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger (L) and Hatch Mansfield managing director Patrick McGrath (R) dig in the Kentish fields / Taittinger)
The official launch of the vines comes at a booming time for English wine, especially the sparkling variety, with brands such as Nyetimber, Ridgeview and Chapel Down gaining in popularity.
Some have even said that English varieties are now eclipsing the French.
Speaking to BigHospitality late last month, Alex Preston, English wine sommelier at the Issac At restaurant in Brighton, claimed that sparkling wines from Sussex “don’t just rival” French Champagne, but “trump” it .
“In terms of temperature and climate, we're now much cooler than northern France,” he said. “Our grapes can stay on the vine a bit longer and develop a bit more flavour, but they are also a lot lighter overall. The English is fruitier [and] crisper.”