Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs

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Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs was created to commemorate Thibaud IV, Comte de Champagne, who planted the first Chardonnay vines in France in the 13th century. First released in 1957 with the 1952 vintage, it is produced exclusively from the delicate first pressing of costly Chardonnay grapes grown to greatest perfection in the vineyards of the communes of the Côte des Blancs, named for the suitability of its microclimates to that vine variety. Champagne Taittinger's extensive vineyard holdings of 600 acres include several parcels in the 100 percent-rated villages of Avize, Cramant, Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs, and assure the consistent supply from year to year of the most exceptional Chardonnay grapes available.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is elaborated and brought to maturity in the 13th century chalk cellars once the property of the Abbey of Saint Nicaise, where each step of the méthode champenoise is performed traditionally. Following harvest, the grapes are pressed immediately in press houses located among the vineyards, yielding a first pressing, referred to as the "cuvée," which is followed by two more pressings, referred to as the first and second "tailles." The greater part of the juice, and that of the finest quality, is extracted in the "cuvée;" neither of the "tailles" are used in Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. In all, no more than 100 litres (approximately 26 gallons) of juice per 160 kilograms (approximately 350 pounds) of fruit may be extracted from the combined three pressings. The must is then transported to the vinification facility, where a cool fermentation takes place under temperature controlled conditions. Following this, a small portion of the wine, usually approximating five percent, is matured for a few months in small, 225-litre, new oak casks. Blending takes place in the early spring, followed by a slow secondary fermentation at 45 to 50 F in Taittinger's cool cellars from which the wine acquires complexity and the fine, pinpoint bubbles characteristic of its sparkle. Prior to dégorgement, Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is aged four to six years, twice the legal minimum for vintage champagne, to fully capture the subtle bouquet, complexity and body of the Chardonnay grape.

This superb Champagne, produced only in years exceptional enough to declare a vintage, is appropriately presented in an antique-style bottle of XVIIIth century design. Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is the ultimate expression of the Taittinger style, a Champagne of great refinement, elegance and delicacy. The clean, aristocratic Chardonnay fragrance is offset by warm, toasty nuances, which carry onto a palate of finely- balanced, generous white fruit flavors underscored by a fine, crisp acidity and subtle mineral notes. The refined, toasty finish is lasting and complex.
Wine Spectator: 94
A rich base of toasted brioche and briny mineral supports flavors of poached quince, white peach puree, fleur de sel, pastry and smoked almond. There's a quiet verve to this wine, with a fine, silky texture throughout. Drink now through 2025. 150 cases imported.
Wine Advocate: 98
Taittingers 2002 Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne is off the charts. I have tasted the 2002 now many times, and it has never been less than thrilling. A vivid kaleidoscope of pure Chardonnay aromas and flavors opens up in the glass. The 2002 is at once incredibly rich yet also totally weightless and impeccable in its balance. All the classic Comtes notes are there, but with a level of detail and nuance I dont think I have ever seen before. The 2002 is breathtakingly beautiful today, but also appears to have the stuffing to age for decades. Personally, I would be looking to buy the 2002 in magnums if at all possible. Sadly, there is little wine to go around as 2002 was a very short crop. Readers who can track down the 2002 are in store for something truly great. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2042. This is a fabulous set of new releases from Taittinger. The 2002 Comtes de Champagne is easily one of the very best young Champagnes I have ever tasted.