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A memorable day for English sparkling wine

Enotria&Coe buyers Harriet and Maggie were part of making English sparkling wine history yesterday, when Champagne Taittinger planted vines at Domaine Evremond, a former apple orchard in Kent.

Taittinger is the first Grande Marque Champagne House to plant vines in the UK, in order to make premium English Fizz. The historic planting was led by president of Champagne Taittinger, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger along with his wife Claire, daughter Vitalie, as well as representatives from the estate’s partner in the project and UK agent, Hatch Mansfield.

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Twenty hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines – the classic sparkling wine triumvirate – were been planted at the 69-hectare site at the new estate. Eventually, the estate will double this figure and have 40 hectares under vines. The first sparkling wines from Domaine Evremond are expected to be released for drinking in 2023.

Speaking from the windswept field in Kent, Pierre-Emmanuel said: “Our family has always had a great affection for the UK and for Kent – my father Jean Taittinger twinned Canterbury with Reims when he was mayor of the latter in the 1950s. We have been very impressed by the quality of English sparkling wine being produced, and we believe the combination of chalk soils, climate and topography of our site in Kent are ideal for producing quality sparkling wine. 

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These attributes are perfect for grape growing, and are very similar to the terroir in Champagne, for us it was a natural step to do this.”

Patrick McGrath MW, managing director of Hatch Mansfield, added: “Ultimately we will be aiming to produce 300,000 bottles per year of premium English sparking wine, but this will not be for six years or more as the vines will take time to reach the stage where they are producing the quantity of quality fruit required. It will be a gradual process.”

The new wine is named Domaine Evremond, after Charles de Saint-Évremond, who is credited with helping introduce 17th-century London to the habit of quaffing champagne.

harriet_3Here, Maggie shares her highlights from the momentous day.

  1. Having my own trowel – I have never owned one of these, but I feel I have now entered an exclusive club. Mine was number 45 of 250.
  2. The French view on rain: “We have even arranged for bubbles to fall from the sky," Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger said just as the heavens decided to open up. So much more poetic than it’s raining cats and dogs, a phrase I personally have never understood.
  3. The tasting of the other Kent producers and, in particular the Biddenden Gribble Bridge Sparkling Rosé 2012, produced 100% from Gamay. This was an off-dry sparkler that sung with the vibrant strawberry note I always associate with the super sweet and perfumed wild strawberries! A cheeky British Jalapeno salami was a surprise match for this wine.
  4. 2006 Comte de Champagne. Enough said.