My life in a glass

Vitalie Taittinger is beautiful, a mum of three and heir to a world-famous family business. And she gets to drink Champagne every day of the year…

Do you have the best job in world working in a Champagne house? I don’t know about the best job in the world but I do love what I do. As artistic and marketing director I’m in charge of growing the Taittinger brand and ensuring it can compete with all the other big names in the business. My days are so varied and I get to work alongside my father and my brother Clovis in our family business which has been inspirational. Of course, we have our moments, and don’t always agree on everything but helping to shape the future of our company is hugely rewarding.

Did you always want to join the family business? Growing up I dreamt of becoming an artist and I have an art degree. For a brief period in 2005 our family stepped away from the wine that forged our identity, although within a year my father had bought back our business from the Starwood hotel group and I realized I wanted to be part of the adventure. I didn’t have any formal training the wine industry but I do think my artistic background brings an extra dimension.

I am proud that Taittinger continues to team up with artists to design special bottles – including Roy Lichtenstein and the latest bottle from renowned Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado, who has created a limited edition bottle for the 2008 vintage. I am also lucky enough to be part of events that Taittinger sponsors, including the Baftas which is undeniably glamorous.

Tell us a little about the Taittinger brand. Taittinger is based in Reims, the unofficial capital of France’s Champagne region, we are the only family-run Grande Marque Champagne. Our flagship wines are the Comtes de Champagne, consisting entirely of chardonnay grapes, and the Comtes de Champagne Rosé which is a combination of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Our chalk cellars are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and we welcome visitors 18 metres below ground to discover the art of Champagne making – as well as sampling our wonderful product of course!

Last year Taittinger planted vines in Kent, why the UK? The Kent countryside is already producing some really good wines and has the perfect conditions for grape growing, thanks to its chalk soils and your climate. It was the obvious choice for us when we were looking at expansion.

The new wine will be called Domaine Évremond after Charles de Saint-Évremond, who first introduced 17th-century London to Champagne at the court of King Charles II. We hope to release our first English Sparkling wine from Domaine in 2023. Ultimately we are aiming to produce 300,000 bottles per year but this will not be for six years or more as the vines take time to produce the right quantity of the best fruit.

And the British do love Champagne! Yes, Britain is a very important market for us and English people know a lot about Champagne, probably more than other nations. You are becoming the connoisseurs of all our markets and have no complex about Champagne, you drink it every day, not just for special occasions.

At mealtimes, do you always drink Champagne? It all depends on the moment. For example, when it’s very hot I’m happy drinking a cold beer. I enjoy a glass of wine, and it’s always a pleasure drinking a glass of Bordeaux or Burgundy.  When I’m travelling I always try the wine from the region I’m in, I enjoy trying new things.

At home, I always have a few bottle of Champagne at home to share with friends when I’m cooking. And a little tip, if you have any Champagne that has gone flat use it mixed with cream, peppercorns and herbs (dill and sorrel are excellent options), and bring to a light simmer. For a Champagne beurre-blanc, add a lump of butter.

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A walk amongst the grapevines reveals a red rose on the end of every long row. Called the  ‘Guardians of the Vineyard,’ the roses’ health mirrors the viability of the fruit. If the roses are healthy, the grape harvest should be a success.

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