The brand is to produce sparkling wine from its new vineyard in Kent, Domaine Evremond in Chilham, with the first bottles expected to be released by 2023 after three years of aging in the bottle.
The group plans to plant a total of 40 hectares over the next three years, comprising the three grapes needed for traditional sparkling wine: Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.
Brand owner Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger was joined by his wife Claire, and daughter and face of Taittinger Vitalie, to plant the very first vines in a ceremony organised by UK distributor and partner, Hatch Mansfield, on 3 May.
The Kent vineyard is a joint venture between Taittinger and Hatch Mansfield, including managing director Patrick McGrath (pictured, right), and investor friends.
Domaine Evremond is named after Charles de Saint Evremond, a Frenchman who was exiled by the French court of Louis XIV, who brought the concept of Champagne to the English court of Charles II. Having become a poet, epicurean and literary critic in the UK, he is buried in Westminster Abbey.
This is not the first time the French brand has ventured outside its home region of Reims, France, to plant sparkling wine vines: since 1987 it has planted vineyards at the Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, a joint venture with the Kopf family, of Kobrand Wine & Spirits.
“Our family has always had a great affection for the UK and for Kent ‒ my father Jean Taittinger twinned Canterbury with Reims when he was mayor of the latter in the 1950s,” says Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger.
“We have been very impressed by the quality of English sparkling wine being produced, and we believe the combination of chalk soils, climate and topography of our site in Kent are ideal for producing quality sparkling wine. These attributes are perfect for grape growing, and are very similar to the terroir in Champagne, for us it was a natural step to do this.”
English sparkling wine is growing in popularity, with increased numbers of sommeliers recommending the drink, and many rising brands establishing themselves.
Examples of this include Alex Preston, sommelier at Isaac At in Brighton, who not only specialises in English sparkling wine, but wine specifically from Sussex.
Speaking to BigHospitality in March, he claimed that sparkling wines from Sussex “don’t just rival” French Champagne, but “trump” it.