Developed through experience and observation, understanding the vineyard means that practices can be put in place to encourage the vines to express the best of their potential. It also makes it possible to respect the integrity of each terroir in order to increase the precision of the wines. As Vineyard Director, Christelle Rinville knows the Taittinger vineyard like the back of her hand. Here, she tells us about the special characteristics of the terroirs from which the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs and Comtes de Champagne Rosé cuvees are made.

The terroir includes several components: the soil, sub-soil, climate, relief, exposure and so on… Consequently, every plot has its own identity card. “The objective for Maison Taittinger is to work the vines so that they express their typical characteristics as much as possible, characteristics that depend on geological formation and the texture and biodiversity of the soils, but also on the vines’ propensity to develop somewhat early or late and their capacity to resist weather conditions (frost and dry spells, for example)”, Christelle Rinville points out.

Soil formation in the Champagne vineyard is very, very old – some 20 million years, in fact. The thrust of the Alps caused the Paris basin in the north-east to rise up and subside in its centre under the weight of marine sediment, revealing different buried geological layers. Erosion throughout the Quaternary period then shaped the topography, forming a landscape of relatively gentle slopes on the Côte d’Île-de-France (one of the three main cuestas), giving rise to the prestigious Côte des Blancs, where Chardonnay reigns supreme, and the Montagne de Reims.


As the finest example of Maison Taittinger style, the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes from the five villages classified as ‘Grand Cru’ in the Côte des Blancs: Avize, Chouilly, Oger, Le Mesnil- sur-Oger and Cramant – crus with fairly similar soils but with distinct expressions. All of them bring finesse and minerality, but maybe they will express notes that are more delicate (Avize), tender and fruity (Chouilly), softer (Cramant), sunnier (Oger) or will have a more austere and deeper character which reveals itself more over time (Le Mesnil-sur-Oger)… and so on.

The slopes of the Côte des Blancs dominate the chalky plain of Champagne. Mostly planted with Chardonnay vines, it produces wines combining finesse, minerality and strength thanks to its predominantly limestone sub-soils. “Chalk acts like a sponge. It captures water and holds it through capillary action which not only facilitates excellent soil drainage and provides plants with a regular supply of amino acids and mineral salts – the precursors of aromas – but also contributes minerality which is revealed at a later stage in the wines”, Christelle Rinville explains.


The Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2008 is created by blending Grands Crus from the Montagne de Reims and Côte des Blancs. “For the Comtes de Champagne Rosé, at precisely the time when the grapes are ripening, we choose plots with a rich expression of red fruits, with wonderful tension, wonderful elegance and wonderful freshness”.

The preferred terroir of the Pinot Noir, the Montagne de Reims brings its typical full-bodied character and gives structure and fruity elegance to the Comtes de Champagne Rosé. On these unique lands, chalk is deeper than in the Côte des Blancs and the plots selected for Comtes de Champagne Rosé, planted with older vines with deep roots, give the Pinots Noirs wonderful maturity.


Maison Taittinger works hard to bring the expression of the terroirs to light. To get the best from each vine, manual work has to be meticulous and fertilisation well managed. “Manual work – and this is true throughout our vineyard – is an art. Maison Taittinger is unwaveringly devoted to work on the vines which helps to provide the right conditions for the grapes to develop as they should. When it comes to managing the vineyard, as at the time of picking, no compromises are made; everything is our power is done in the name of quality, both for the quality of the grapes, to get the best wines, and for the quality of vineyard management and biodiversity. Quality also extends to our environmental approach – something we pay very close attention to”. Grapes from the different terroirs are pressed separately, always following this rationale, this guiding principle, with the aim of respecting the identity of each terroir of origin. These requirements, attention to detail and precision are all essential when creating a great cuvée.

The different terroirs that make up the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, by Christelle Rinville