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Champagne Taittinger to plant first English vineyard

Published:  09 December, 2015

Champagne Taittinger has bought land in Kent to establish an English vineyard, which will operate under the name Domaine Evremond.

Champagne Taittinger has bought land in Kent to establish an English vineyard, which will operate under the name Domaine Evremond.

It will become the first Champagne house to invest in English sparkling wine.

Champagne Taittinger will own 55% of the new venture. The remaining shares will be owned by UK agent Hatch Mansfield, together with a number of private British investors and friends.

A total of 69 hectares of land has been purchased at Stone Stile Farm, near Chilham, in Kent.

The farm is owned by the Gaskain fruit-farming family, who will continue to grow quality apples, pears and plums next to the vineyards.

The multi-million pound investment will ultimately produce some 300,000 bottles annually for the premium end of the market.

Some 40 hectares of south-facing slopes have been identified as ideal terroir for high-quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines. Planting will be at no more than 80m above sea level.

However, the land needs to be converted into use as vineyards, and no major planting is planned until 2017.

The first fruit for wine-making is expected in 2020, with the first bottles the following year.

The first Domaine wine is likely in 2023.

The company hopes to replicate the success of Taittinger's 1987 Domaine Carneros US joint venture with the Kopf family of Kobrand Wine & Spirits.

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, president of Champagne Taittinger, said: "We have dreamt for a number of years of working with our dear friends in the UK to create a special Franco/British project.

"Built on the values of friendship, this venture will create something special to show our appreciation of the UK support for Champagne - it is Champagne Taittinger's number one export market. We are very excited that this dream is now becoming a reality.

"We believe we can produce a high-quality English sparkling wine drawing on our 80 years of winemaking expertise. Our aim is to make something of real excellence in the UK's increasingly temperate climate, and not to compare it with Champagne or any other sparkling wine."

Patrick McGrath MW, managing director of Hatch Mansfield, said: "We are delighted to be working with Champagne Taittinger on this project and we have a joint ambition to produce very high-quality wines using our combined expertise.

"As a team, we have a real belief in the potential of English sparkling wine. Our aim is not just to be an English sparkling winemaker, but also to be a significant supporter of the whole English wine industry."

Viticulture consultant Stephen Skelton MW has been advising the company throughout, and will continue to work alongside the viticulture team, which will also include: Champagne Taittinger's directeur general, Damien Le Sueur; directeur des vignobles, Vincent Collard; and viticultural consultant, Franck Mazy.

The estate is named for Charles de Saint-Evremond, a 17th-century soldier, epicurean, writer and literary critic.

He was exiled to England in 1661, where he introduced Champagne to the court of Charles II. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

The estates wines have yet to be named.