Feb 09 2009

Mmmm…Taittinger!

On Thursday I was fortunate enough to attend a Taittinger Champagne luncheon at Sixteen restaurant in the Trump International Hotel & Tower. (FYI: While not necessarily monetary, unpaid internships do have their perks!) The views from the restaurant are absolutely stunning. The 30-foot floor-to-ceiling windows leave nothing to be desired when gazing out over Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and the Wrigley Clock Tower. It couldn’t have gotten much better than that, but it actually did. Learning first-hand about one of the oldest and most prestigious Champagne houses in France from export director Ambroise Bobtcheff, while sipping the goods, was a real treat.

Bobtcheff shed much light on the Taittinger
history and philosophy for us, emphasizing the importance that the centuries-old, (still!) family-owned Champagne house places on consistently maintaining the highest standards of elegance and quality possible. Here are some numbers he shared, which put in perspective how much smaller and more exclusive the production of Taittinger Champagnes is compared to some of the other houses in the region: 6 million bottles of Taittinger are consumed annually, compared to Veuve Clicquot’s 15 million and Moët & Chandon’s 25 million.

Three bottles were opened during the lunch: a 1998 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, which is 100% Chardonnay, only produced in exceptional vintage years, and aged 9-10 years before release; the NV Brut La Française, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier which is aged 3-4 years; and, lastly, the 2003 Comtes de Champagne Rosé, blended from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay grapes, all from grands cru vineyards. This Rosé is only made in exceptional vintages from first pressings as well. Because of bubbly’s overall food-friendliness, even though we all ordered very different dishes – from beet salads to winter ale soup to seared ahi tuna sandwiches and black bass – the Champagne found its place with all of our selections.

Have you had a fabulous Champagne lately which you’d like to share? Were you sipping it as an apéritif or having it with a meal? If so, was it a pairing you’d recommend? Let me know!

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