Current environmental issues are at the core of the 288 hectares that comprise the Taittinger estate, now the 2nd largest vineyard in Champagne. Visionary Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger established an environmentally responsible approach as early as 2005.
Concerned with preserving and transmitting an exceptional terroir, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger launched the vineyard’s environmental transition upon his arrival. The estate is entirely covered in grass and operates without the use of herbicides or insecticides, working the soil and developing biodiversity. Christelle Rinville, Vineyard Director since 2020, faces this continuing challenge every day. Recalling her arrival, she remembers: “Speaking from a personal perspective, I was deeply impressed by this House, so humane, promoting dialogue and reactivity, as well as by this vast, magnificent vineyard.” The estate is distributed over 37 crus, divided approximately into thirds between the Montagne de Reims, the Côte des Blancs and the Côte des Bar. It has been HVE and VDC certified since 2017 thanks to the efforts of Christelle Rinville, whose work also consists in “successfully completing each wine-growing year (from planting to harvest), adapting to the constraints imposed by climate change and regulations, managing the teams and optimizing use of the equipment, as well as taking decisions on any investments to be made”.
HVE, VDC and UNESCO
HVE (High Environmental Value) is a French certification scheme launched in 2011 and focusing on a strategy of plant protection, managed fertiliser use and biodiversity conservation. VDC (Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne) is a certification scheme launched in 2014 and revised in 2020, requiring a commitment to respecting regulations, HVE certification, and specific to the Champagne region (the preservation and enhancement of terroirs and landscapes, responsible management of waste and sub-products, and reduction in the carbon footprint). “VDC also entails a collective dimension in that it involves proving Champagne to be a responsible and triumphant region,” Christelle Rinville stipulates.
Champagne was indeed triumphant in July 2015 with the listing of the Champagne Coteaux, Houses and Cellars as UNESCO World Heritage sites. In his constant pursuit of beauty and excellence, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger continues to play a dynamic role in the forward-looking Champagne region. Among other things, he presides the Coteaux, Maisons et Caves de Champagne organization.
Christelle Rinville and Alexandre Ponnavoy (Cellar Master) have worked together to develop plot selection and grape tasting as well as to monitor grape maturity with a view to optimizing harvest dates and the desired quality for the grapes. “The grape maturity is monitored by a ‘Maturity’ committee with over 1700 samples taken before harvest, and even more for red wine plots and plots intended for the Folies and Contes de Champagne cuvees,” Christelle Rinville explains. With climate change, she has “to adapt growing methods, the way of working the soil and to how the vines respond, by facing up to variations in weather that are constantly changing (spring frosts, hailstorms, increasing periods of drought, in the Côte des Bar, for example”. Decision-makers in the sector participate in tastings so as to be fully involved in the quality desired and the quality achieved.
In the early part of the growing year, the estate is conducting an eco-grazing trial with sheep in order to reduce the use of tractors and to better control the green spaces, always complicated to manage during this season.
Christelle Rinville explains that her vision “is to continue with virtuous and demanding processes while working towards a limited use of inputs and sustainable fertilization practices and remaining consistent as regards quality and vine sustainability objectives, with respect to people, the environment and the terroirs”.
“The biodiversity of the vineyards is ensured by the proximity of forests, low walls, hedges, copses, and living soils with a variety of earthworms and areas teeming with rabbits and other game.”