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Champagne Taittinger to establish UK vineyard

Champagne Taittinger has announced the launch of Domaine Evremond. Working with Hatch Mansfield and private investors, this unique collaboration marks the first time that a Champagne house has invested in the UK with the intention of producing premium English Sparkling Wines.

The team has purchased 69 hectares of farmland at Stone Stile Farm in Kent. Forty hectares of this will be planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines to produce English Sparkling Wine.

Comments Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, president Champagne Taittinger says: “We have dreamt for a number of years of working with our dear friends in the UK to create a special Franco/British project.  Built on the values of friendship, this venture will create something special to show our appreciation of the UK support for Champagne – it is Champagne Taittinger’s number one export market. We are very excited that this dream is now becoming a reality.

“We believe we can produce a high quality English Sparkling Wine drawing on our 80 years of winemaking expertise. Our aim is to make something of real excellence in the UK’s increasingly temperate climate, and not to compare it with Champagne or any other sparkling wine.  

“Our family has already had considerable success planting sparkling wine vineyards in the USA in 1987 when we launched Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, our venture with the Kopf family of Kobrand Wine & Spirits. We hope to replicate this success in the UK, working alongside our UK agent, Hatch Mansfield.

“Our family has strong connections to Kent through my father, Jean Taittinger, who twinned Canterbury with Reims over 45 years ago when he was Mayor of Reims (1959 – 1977); so I am looking forward to being able to strengthen these links with Kent and with Great Britain as we embark on this venture.”

Domaine Evremond is a venture between Champagne Taittinger, Hatch Mansfield, and friends, reflecting the independent, family focused philosophies of both companies. Domaine Evremond takes its name from Charles de Saint-Evremond (1614-1703), a Frenchman and the first true ambassador for Champagne, who fuelled its popularity in England during the court of Charles II. A poet, epicurean and literary critic, he is buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.  A passionate historian, Pierre-Emmanuel named this new venture, Domaine Evremond, in his memory.

The land, a former apple farm, is near Chilham in Kent, close to Canterbury and Faversham. The plots to be planted are a maximum of 80 metres above sea level, with chalk soil and south-facing slopes, creating an ideal terroir to plant and grow high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines. Stephen Skelton MW, one of the UK's leading viticulture consultants, has worked closely with the Domaine Evremond team in the capacity of viticultural advisor in securing this ideal plot for vineyard development.

Patrick McGrath MW, MD of Hatch Mansfield (pictured with Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger) adds, “We are delighted to be working with Champagne Taittinger on this project and we have a joint ambition to produce very high quality wines using our combined expertise. As a team, we have a real belief in the potential of English Sparkling Wine. Our aim is not just to be an English Sparkling Winemaker, but also to be a significant supporter of the whole English wine industry.”

No wine will be produced until the plots are transformed from orchards into vineyards, after which time premium English Sparkling Wine will be made using ‘domaine’ fruit from the farm.

Champagne Taittinger is the only leading Champagne House that remains owned and actively managed by the family named on the label. A leading brand in the UK and sold in over 150 countries worldwide, Taittinger own 288ha of vineyards in Champagne providing them with 50% of their production needs and makes them the second largest domain owner and grower in the region.

Hatch Mansfield is a UK wine company specialising in premium wines made by independent, family owned wine producers. Hatch works with brands from around the world such as Louis Jadot from Burgundy, Villa Maria from New Zealand and Errazuriz from Chile. The team has worked closely with the Taittinger family since 1998.

14 December 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor