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Champagne Taittinger flies high

The humble bubble in the bottle of Champagne made the headlines in late September when recent research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal in the United States was made public.

The study by Dr Liger-Belair and Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin of the Institute for Ecological Chemistry and Molecular Biogeochemistry in Neuherberg, Germany found that the bubbles in Champagne are responsible for a large percentage of Champagne’s complexity of flavours, as well as its natural effervescence.

Following the publication of the research, Champagne Taittinger has taken to the sky, launching its balloon to taste a range of Taittinger’s Chardonnay-rich Champagnes at a variety of altitudes over the South Downs of England.

With the aid of a spectrometer, the “highly pleasurable study” will seek to establish the bubble speed, bubble size and flavoural differences of Taittinger’s Brut Réserve Non Vintage, widely available on ground level, its Vintage Champagne and top of the range Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, all of which are available in more lofty, high-end establishments.

Lynn Murray, marketing director for Hatch Mansfield, the UK agents for Champagne Taittinger, says: “It is a well established fact that our sense of taste changes as one achieves altitude. Over the course of 2009 many of our guests who have taken flight with us in our Taittinger hot air balloon have asked whether the change in pressure affects the size, speed and number of Champagne bubbles.

"We know of no study that has looked at this; so we have decided to carry out a series of Taittinger tastings at various heights with professional wine tasters, including one of our company’s three Masters of Wine.”

The company hopes to unveil their findings in the summer of 2010.

1 October 2009 - James Graham