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July 02, 2014

Taittinger ‘Prelude’ Grand Cru NV

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Taittinger is one of the oldest Champagne houses, founded in 1734 by Forest Fourneaux, who worked closely with the Benedictine Abbeys. In the 1930s Pierre Taittinger acquired the estate and today the house is based in Reims and remarkably, given their global fame, operate from only 712 acres of vineyards.Their flagship wine Comtes de Champagne was the vanguard of blanc de blancs, we released their 2004 for £405 per case of six.

Taittinger also produce an exceptional Grand Cru cuvee called Prelude, which is made only from grapes grown in their six Grand Cru vineyards, classified as 100% in the Champagne system. Taittinger Prelude is composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir and produced only using the first press, offering a blend of incredible finesse. This Prelude is made exclusively from grapes from the superb 2006 vintage a large percentage of which herald from the village Le-Mesnil-Sur-Oger famous for the fabled ‘Clos du Mesnil’ and ‘d’Ambonnay’, notorious for the great wines of Salon and Krug, which cost over £300 a bottle. As such Taittinger Prelude offers an incredible way to buy, cellar and drink, it is a Champagne with incredible finesse and structure capable of ageing for a decade. Many believe Prelude knocks the socks off most famed and prestige vintage Champagnes, yet priced at £37 with duty and vat paid, £28 in bond, while easily surpassing the leading non-vintage Champagnes which demand the same price.

Prelude is aged on its lees for more than five years in the cellars of the former Saint-Nicaise abbey (13th century) and receives extravagant care and profligation. Taittinger do not use the Pinot Noir in Comte de Champagne, instead 70% goes into their Comtes de Champagne Rosé and as such Prelude offers the best of their Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay selected Grand Cru plots in the prestigious Cote des Blancs, where the chalkiest soils are found.

It is loved by the critics, winning numerous Decanter awards and receiving 19/20 from Jancis Robinson. Taittinger Prelude is essentially a vintage Champagne from 2006, undergoing the ageing requirements to be named such, yet offered to the market in small quantities for the discerning Champagne buyer. The colour is deep yellow/gold, with silver highlights. Beautifully floral with white jasmin, lily of the valley, hazelnut and subtle autolytic notes. The palate expresses wonderful crisp mineral notes, which envelop quickly into full bodied, rich and opulent flavour profiles, orange peel, tangy citrus, brioche and biscuit. The bubbles are fine and persistent and the finish is delightfully creamy. This is a Champagne to serve at dinner parties and then reveal that is it not a vintage Champagne by name, yet costs less than most leading NV cuvees. We do not hesitate in awarding it 93 points and recommend it highly to enjoy this summer or cellar for years to come.

Taittinger ‘Prelude’ Grand Cru - £170, 6×75 IB or £223 incl. duty and VAT 
Jancis Robinson – 19/20 points
Very distinctive Dom-P-like nose. Really sappy and energetic – quite different from the rest. Nutty, firm, with just a little edge of something fully developed to beguile but still lots of freshness and real density. Extremely distinctive! Intellectually interesting. Long. Full yet very refreshing.

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