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Champagne visionary Claude Taittinger dies

Published:  10 January, 2022

One of Champagne's most important pioneers passed away last week, aged 94.

Claude Taittinger was responsible for Champagne Taittinger's enormous global success in the second half of the 20th century, joining the house at the tender age of 22, in 1949.

He took full control of running the company in 1960, following the tragic death of his brother, Francois. Claude took the reigns initially as MD, subsequently becoming president of the company until 2005.

Under Claude’s stewardship, Champagne Taittinger grew from a niche label into a brand with international scale, while always maintaining its reputation for high quality.

When Claude joined the company in 1949, his brother sent him around the world to promote their family’s wines. He became not only an ambassador for the Taittinger label but also for the wider Champagne category, promoting the region and its wines in markets across the globe.

As well as his love of travel, Claude was also a gifted storyteller and communicator – in 1962, he commissioned a revolutionary survey into the French public’s attitudes towards Champagne.

The results led Taittinger to become one of the first Champagne houses to communicate with consumers directly through sophisticated and effective publicity campaigns.

His gift for communication led Claude to also form links with the culinary and artistic worlds.

In 1967, he created the Pierre Taittinger International Culinary Prize in honour of his father – himself a knowledgeable food lover – and in 1983 he launched the Taittinger Collection, with world-renowned artists designing labels for the house’s vintage Champagnes.

In 1987, Claude invested in the vineyards of California, purchasing Domaine Carneros at the foot of Napa Valley. The brand is today recognised as one of Napa's finest sparkling wines.

In 2005, Taittinger was brought by the American investment company Starwood capital. However, they decided to put the eponymous house back on the market, and it was snapped up by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, a grandson of the original founder, in 2006.