Taittinger is confident it has the stocks of reserve wine to ensure quality in its Champagne production this year even after severe spring frosts cut prospects for output in the region by between 10 percent and 20 percent, and more in some areas.
That's according to Vitalie Taittinger, the company's marketing director and daughter of Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, who bought back control of the brand in 2006 after it had been sold by family members to U.S. investment firm Starwood Capital Group LLC.
"It's our duty to keep the quality of the non-vintage" Champagne, she said during a visit to London this month, while commenting that it will be a "gymnastic" feat to maintain quality and freshness after such a tough growing season. "We're lucky because we have the opportunity to work with reserve wine" from 2015 and 2014, she said.
The frosts over three days between April 8 and April 15 were followed by periods of humidity which led to mildew, prompting one of the worst-hit harvests in living memory. "It's very rare," she said. "It's just nature."
While Taittinger is preoccupied for now in ensuring the quality of the 2016 Champagne production, it is also keeping an eye on its new venture in southern England. It said last year that it was buying 69 hectares of land in Kent in a venture with U.K. agent Hatch Mansfield, with the aim of planting more than half of it with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to produce some 300,000 bottles a year of sparkling wine.
"It's really the beginning," she said, making clear that the company sees it as a long-term project with the first production several years away. "We will take our time."