This past Sunday, we had another great tasting experience that we want to share with you - this week, Taittinger Brut Prestige Rose, an absolutely astonishing Champagne, worth quite some attention!
Before I get into the tasting, I want to talk more about Champagne, as it seems there may be some misunderstandings out there.
Often, I hear literally any wine with carbonation being called Champagne, but this could not be more wrong. There are several different types of sparkling wine. There is carbonated sparkling wine, a simple white wine with added CO2 gas, very inexpensive and low-quality wines - please stay away from wines like that! Then there is steel tank fermented sparkling wines. A white wine gets transferred in exceptionally large steel tanks, where an actual second natural fermentation of the wine takes place (no added gas). This second fermentation creates the carbonation (no additional alcohol). The now carbonated wine gets then filled into bottles. The most well-known wine following this method is Prosecco.
But let’s get into Champagne now. I get puzzled over and over again when I hear people say they do not like Champagne or even worse, the phrase "Champagne is only for women". I absolutely adore exquisite Bordeaux wines, Super Tuscans and all these other heavy hitters, but none of these styles of wines have that special something a Champagne has, even a $200 Bordeaux may not have that sparkle that can already be found in a $50 Champagne. Champagne is simply pure elegance, sexy and full of style. Champagne is beyond complex, something for advanced wine drinkers and surely not a "Girly Drink", it is literally anything but a girly drink. And I am sure that any experienced and advanced wine lover will agree, it is difficult to beat champagne. The added beauty of Champagne (real Champagne only) is a guarantee for quality. Even entry level Champagnes are absolutely beautiful, starting at $40, but of course greatly increase in quality in higher tiers. I recently saw a video of two guys blind tasting entry level Champagnes, here below is the video, I thought I share it with you in the hope some may enjoy it!
But where were we? What is actually Champagne, compared to other sparkling wines. Champagne uses a white wine made out of only the best grapes available (large quantity of Grand Crus) This makes already a particularly good "Base Wine" This base wine gets poured into the Champagne bottle, where a mix of yeast and wine is added, and then closed with a beer cork. These bottles are now aged deep below ground, in the Champagne caves. I previously posted some pictures from when I got to visit some of these caves back in 2019, here they are again. So, this is where champagne lies for normally 3 - 10 years, before the wines gets released. This long again together with live yeast in the bottle, using an exceptionally fine base wine creates the absolutely astonishing quality of Champagne, some of the most desired wines in the world. This yeast aging develops the unique flavor in Champagne the "Brioche" flavor, the most delightful yeast notes you can possibly taste. Only one step in between aging and the sale; disgorgement. the neck of the bottle gets frozen, then the beer cap is removed, which, because of the pressure, will release the yeast sediments in the wine. Then the "dosage" follows, a mix of wine and sugar added to the wine, this way a producer can decide if they want a dry or sweet champagne. The bottle then gets corked, sold, and enjoyed.
This is just a very simply summarized overview on what Champagne is, by using the Traditional Method.
One last thing regarding Rose Champagnes, before going into our tasting. Many people have the impression that rose wines or rose champagnes are sweet and girly, but it is actually often the opposite. It is quite common for the rose champagne to be more complex than the white version from the same producer. More finesse, more flavor, more complexity, and more elegance, that also why rose wines are often more expensive. Again, rose wine DOES NOT EQUAL sweet wines. There are generally two ways of producing rose Champagne. Most common is the normal rose wine method, when producing the base wine for the champagne, producers simply produce a rose wine. A rose wine has almost the same production method as white wine. The only difference however, skins and flesh are separated right away for white wines (to not get color and tannin into the wine). While for rose wines, skins and flesh are kept together for several hours after crushing the grapes, bringing some color, complexity, and aroma into the wine. This color generally comes from Pinot Noir. So, you may be wondering, is Pinot Noir also used for white Champagne? Yes! A red grape producing a white wine! Most red grapes have white flesh, and if separated right away, even a Pinot Noir can produce a white wine. The other way (very uncommon), simply mixing white and red wine together to produce a rose. This is not a very ideal process though.
Time for Taittinger now!
Champagne Taittinger was established in 1931 by Pierre Taittinger on the foundations of Forest-Forneaux, itself established in 1734 and the third-oldest wine producing house of Champagne.
Taittinger has close to 600 acres of vines and is based in the city of Reims.
It is estimated that Taittinger has approximately 10 - 15 million bottles of Champagne aging in their caves. In comparison, Moet claims to have around 100 million bottles, being the largest Champagne producer worldwide. It is estimated that approximately 300 million bottles of Champagne are produced per year, of which 5-6 million are Taittinger. While this number may seem relatively low, they are still estimated to belong to the 6 larger Champagne producers.
Time to open!
Our first impression, even before opening the bottle was actually the glass. It is extremely small, holding between 3 - 4 oz only, we sure wondered why that is.
The first pour created a beautiful foam, that does not overflow the glass. An incredible amount of very small and fine bubbles, looking as smooth as it can be.
A pale pink color tone.
The nose was not quite as intense as we have expected, but we were thinking that this could be to the extremely low temperature we were holding it. The first thing I noticed right away were some nutty notes, I was however the only one fining it right away, probably though because I was looking for the unexpected, so when you taste it, you may need a few minutes until you can detect it too. While maybe not so intense in the nose, it was extremely complex, it was floral, fruity (red fruit, not too ripe), there was minerality and of course brioche, not overwhelming brioche though.
On to the palate, wow... what a treat!!!
The first thing that stands out right away is the texture. The extremely fine, but plentiful bubbles, are creating something that almost feels like a creamy feel. Of course, this champagne is like any other wine a water like consistency, but these bubbles make the wine very silky soft, velvety, to a point where you do not ever want to let go of this mouth feel, absolutely incredible. This sure is not something you will experience with too many wines. It has an extremely light touch of sweetness, but still relatively dry. A very full body, with a first not a very overwhelming brioche note, goes into an incredibly long brioche-dominate finish, lasting well over 20 seconds.
Its primary aromas consist of fruity, floral, mineral and brioche notes. Lots of almost ripe strawberry, some raspberry and red currant and other red fruit. Also on the palate, fatty nuts, such as walnut, macadamia, hazelnut, and almond.
The only serious downside to consider with this beautiful champagne, is that the bubbles fade away relatively fast in the glass. We are rather slower wine drinker, analyzing every sip, so by the time we finished our glass it was a touch to flat. So, if you get a chance to try a bottle yourself, make sure you use small glasses and do small pours (the bubbles do stay in the bottle a while longer), so 10 small glasses are more recommended rather than 4 normal sized ones.
Other than that, I wish we would have had a magnum bottle, or two bottles of it, as it was so incredibly well balanced with a good freshness, and really nothing bothersome, an absolute delight. Surely one of the better Champagnes I have had so far, looking forward to the next one soon!
Dine - In Price - 125
Retail / Take - Out Price - 100
But really, please stay away from Prosecco, please DO NOT TOUCH sparkling wines (CO2 forcefully added), and stay with the lovely, elegant, and sexy Champagne.