Taittinger's plan dates back to 2015 when it bought 70 hectares of land which had previously been a fruit farm. Its aim is to create a sparkling wine labelled "Made in Britain."
In this new vineyard close to Chilham village in Kent, Taittinger has big plans for its new wine that it has named Domaine Evremond. Three type of vines have already been planted—Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The first wine is not expected to be released before 2022. Taittinger intends to produce 300,000 bottles a year.
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This new wine cannot be called champagne, obviously. Champagne can only be used to describe wines produced according to very strict specifications in a specific region of France.
This bold adventure is not unrelated to British consumers' love for champagne and sparkling wine in general, as seen in their recent interest in prosecco. The market share of this famous Italian sparkling wine grew by 34% in the UK in 2015. In 2016, the Brits were once again the number one champagne consumers, with 31.1 million bottles dispatched across from France. However, Brexit has perhaps had an impact on sales of French bubbly as they were down by 14% last year.
Taittinger's initiative is also a reminder of the challenge facing champagne production in France due to global warming. The region is home to the most northern vineyards in France, but warmer temperatures make it more difficult to get rid of diseases on vines, and drier seasons are affecting the quality of the grapes.