Last week, we attended the official launch of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2007at award-winning restaurant The Frog in Spitalfields, London. Being nearly three years since the last Taittinger prestige cuvée release – Comtes de Champagne 2006 was revealed in September 2015 – this was an important occasion and both current President Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger and new Chef de Cave Alexandre Ponnavoy were there to present the launch.
Since the first cuvée in 1952, Comtes 2007 is the thirty-seventh vintage produced and marks the fourth consecutive release since Comtes 2004. Ponnavoy, who has been working as assistant to Chef de Cave Loïc Dupont for the past four years, began with an overview of the season. “It was a surprise year… following a warm winter, the buds started early and the harvest was consequently early,” he said. Although many were predicting a mid-August harvest, difficult weather in May disrupted the flowering period, so the grapes matured a little slower and the harvest officially began on August 30th.
Freshness, acidity and complexity are central to Comtes 2007. The simple vinification process – only the fist press juice is used (the cuvée) and 5% of the wines are matured for four months in fresh oak barrels – is the key to keeping the freshness, according to Ponnavoy. Although the vintage was lacking somewhat in juicy fruit, it had plenty of acidity and this shows in the finished champagne. Fruit-forward and already quite complex with a nice salinity on the finish, Comes 2007 is tasting fantastic now and will age well for a few more years yet.
Comtes de Champagne is always a blend of five Grand Crus in the Côte des Blancs: Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger. Asked why just five Grand Cru villages are used and why the price isn’t higher, Pierre-Emmanuel commented: “I don’t want [Comtes] to be a champagne for billionaires and I don’t want the connoisseur being unable to afford it.” Cheers to that!
|Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2007
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 9.5 Years | Dosage: 9 g/L | Disgorged: November 2017
Showing very forward on the nose, quite open already; hints of brown apples with plenty of rich pineapple, guava and bright grapefruit. On the palate the lees ageing contributes a round mouth-filling texture and it’s just starting to show some creamy and nutty character. A hint of salinity on the finish helps lift the freshness. Good length. Great now, likely a faster maturing vintage like Comtes 1999; enjoy now to 2025. 17.5+/20
Depending on the vintage, around 150-300,000 bottles of Comtes de Champagne are produced. However, as Taittinger picked the grapes early in 2007, only a tiny amount of Comtes 2007 has been made. The bottles are available now (22nd March 2018) and the magnums will be released later this year. As ever, the magnums will be very scarce and highly allocated. As such, this will be a very limited release compared to the 2006. Comtes de Champagne 2008 will be the next vintage, likely releasing Spring 2019. If I ranked Comtes, my preferred vintage order would be: 2002, 2004, 1998, 2007, 1996, 2005, 1999 and 2000. They are all very good – I have a preference for the vintages of Comtes that have more tension, purity and freshness, hence why 2004 is right up there.