2004 Taittinger Brut Millesime

Year: 2004
Appellation: Champagne
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 93
Wine Advocate: 91
Vinous Media: 92
Sparkling Wine
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"A toasty Champagne, with an exotic hint of cumin spicing the wine and supporting flavors of clementine, ginger bread and graphite. There's intensity and racy acidity, all put together in a well-meshed, elegant package. Drink now through 2024. Tasted twice, with consistent notes." (WS)

"The estate’s 2004 Brut Millesime is a tense, wiry Champagne that needs at least several years in bottle to come together. The higher proportion of Chardonnay is felt in the wine’s cut and verve. A hint of crushed rocks lingers on the finish. With air the wine softens a touch and becomes richer on the plate, but another few years in bottle should be beneficial. This is Lot L8376MX00200, disgorged November/December, 2008 (not indicated on label). Anticipated maturity: 2012-2022.

Taittinger is one of Champagne’s most consistent large brands. The flagship Comtes de Champagne and Comtes de Champagne Rose, two of the finest wines in the region, sometimes fly under the radar, but they are both super-pedigreed wines with brilliant track records for developing considerable complexity in bottle. Readers who want to learn more about the estate and Comtes in particular may want to take a look at my article on www.erobertparker.com published earlier in the year. Taittinger does so many things well, but it would be great to see the estate add disgorgement dates to its labels." (WA)

"(L1051M202200): Bright gold. Orchard fruit and citrus zest aromas are complicated by notes of honeysuckle, baking spices and candied ginger. Juicy and focused on the palate, with very good depth and clarity to its pear, quince and orange flavors. The spicy note builds with air and carries through a long, sappy, linear finish. The aging curve for this wine looks to be pretty long." (IWC)

Winery Notes:
Taittinger Brut Millésimé is produced from select Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes grown in vineyards in several of the finest microclimates of the Champagne region. It is produced only in vintage years when the harvest yields fruit of excellence equal to Taittinger's rigorous standards of quality. Champagne Taittinger's extensive holdings, third in importance among those of the great champagne houses, total 752 acres of vineyards in the finest growing areas of Champagne, and allow the house to rely predominantly on its own grapes to maintain the consistent superiority of this cuvée.

Following harvest, the grapes are pressed immediately in press houses located among the vineyards, yielding a first pressing, referred to as the "cuvée," which is followed by two more pressings, referred to as the first and second "tailles," which are not used in the blend. In all, no more than 100 litres (approximately 26 gallons) of juice per 160 kilograms (approximately 350 pounds) of fruit may be extracted from the combined three pressings. The juice is transported to the vinification facility, and a cool fermentation of the must takes place under temperature controlled conditions, after which the wine rests until the end of the winter. Blending occurs after the primary fermentation, and thereafter the final cuvée undergoes the secondary fermentation in the bottle at 45 to 50 F in Taittinger's cool cellars. Aged for five years, the wine acquires complexity and the fine, pinpoint bubbles characteristic of its sparkle.

Insofar as its grapes are of a single vintage, the creation of Taittinger Brut Millésimé requires the greatest skills of the blender's art. It frequently entails the selection of a wider range of cuvées than a non-vintage quality which may benefit from the addition of reserve wines of prior vintages. Taittinger Brut Millésimé l983, for example, was achieved through the blending of 38 different growths. The foundation and consistency of the distinctive Taittinger style relies greatly on the proportion of each grape variety in the blend: Pinot Noir lends the finished blend body, vinosity, structure and power as well as the elegant red berry aromas typical of the variety; Chardonnay contributes elegance, finesse, crispness and delicacy to the blend, as well as a degree of structure and longevity. Taittinger's reliance on Chardonnay for this as well as for its non-vintage cuvée, which represents 50 percent of the finished wine, is the source of the exceptional refinement of the Taittinger style.

Pale gold in color, with delicate strands of pinpoint bubbles, Taittinger Brut Millésimé shows the elegance of the house style while expressing the individual character of its vintage year. The fragrant white fruit and berry nose is offset by nuances of toast and minerals which carry onto the crisp, full palate. Delicately structured yet generous fruit flavors, clearly marked by Chardonnay, are balanced by a clean, refined acidity culminating in a fresh, persistent finish.

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