In the Blanc de blancs or Rosé version, the Comtes de Champagne cuvée offers rare and precious wines that bear witness to a great know-how. The release of the Rosé 2011 vintage is a new opportunity to experience it.

The Comtes de Champagne Rosé cuvee was developed in the 1970s with vintage wines sourced exclusively from grands crus terroirs. In some years, no cuvee is produced at all. This is the case “if it doesn’t meet our criteria: quality of the harvest, quality of the wines as well as character of the cuvee,” confirms Alexandre Ponnavoy, the Cellar Master at Maison Taittinger. 

Since its creation, only 33 of these vintages have been released. “We are committed to the highest standards because Comtes de Champagne, which is available both as a Blanc de blancs and as a Rosé, is in Maison Taittinger’s DNA,” he stresses. 

Comtes de Champagne Rosé has a very specific blend. The red wine is sourced from vineyards in Bouzy, the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and the Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs. There is only a very select number of plots that are specifically dedicated to this cuvee. “We keep a close eye on the maturity of the grapes and have very precise viticultural practices in place.”

Three to four weeks after the harvests, it is time for the first tastings. “This gives us an indication of how the wine will develop. It’s the same relationship that you might have with your child. You’ll see them grow over time, but you can already get a glimpse of their potential and their personality at an early stage.” 

The wine is closely monitored until blending in April and bottling in June. Another 12 years elapse before its market release. “The wine is given plenty of time to mature. This is also a hallmark of Maison Taittinger. We reap the rewards of ageing on lees and the work of yeasts in the bottle, until the point at which the wine reaches its peak.” Comtes de Champagne is aged in the cellars – some of which date back to Gallo-Roman times – beneath the hill of Saint-Nicaise in Reims. This spot has consistent temperature and humidity levels all year round. 

According to the cellar master, Comtes de Champagne Rosé is a “rather precious and rare” wine. In the years following its creation, the cuvee was characterised by its preponderance of Chardonnay – Maison Taittinger’s signature grape. “Chardonnay is very mineral, reflecting its terroir, with notes of citrus,” he explains. The 1980s and 1990s coincided with a higher proportion of Pinot Noir in the blend, resulting in “sweeter and fruitier” wines. Motivated by a desire to return to its roots, over recent years Maison Taittinger has made a concerted effort to shine a spotlight on Chardonnay, with the grape currently accounting for 40% of the blend – a figure very likely to hit 60% over the long term. 

The last Comtes de Champagne Rosé was the 2009 vintage. “Quite a good year for harvests and for Chardonnay in particular, which reached optimum maturity.” With only several thousand bottles produced, the 2011 cuvee offers a “mineral wine, obviously, but this is also a wine with very radiant, voluptuous and enveloping characteristics for this year. It has a very interesting profile.” Alexandre Ponnavoy recommends uncorking this Comtes de Champagne Rosé with friends or family “because it is a wine for sharing”. If you plan on serving it with food, there are a few different options available. “Comtes de Champagne Rosé is a gastronomic wine – it stands on its own. But it does also pair very well with unprocessed foods. They can complement each other beautifully. Grilled lobster or even a really good cheese springs to mind.” 

Text : Cyrille Jouanno