Champagne Taittinger has kicked off a joint venture with UK distributor Hatch Mansfield by planting its first vines in Kent.
The brand’s president, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, planted the first vines at the brand’s new Domaine Evremond vineyard in Chilham yesterday (4 May), with an eye to planting a total of 40 hectares over the next two to three years.
The two companies have set their sights on producing 300,000 bottles of “premium English sparkling wine” a year. However, it would take six or more years to reach that level of production, given the length of time the vines needed to reach the point where they were producing a necessary quality of fruit, said Hatch Mansfield MD Patrick McGrath.
The first bottles from Domaine Evremond have been given a tentative release year of 2023, as they will be aged in bottles for three years before hitting the market.
“We believe the combination of chalk soils, climate and topography of our site in Kent are ideal for producing quality sparkling wine,” added Taittinger. “These attributes are perfect for grape growing, and are very similar to the terroir in Champagne.”
This comes as the well-known champagne brand has established a growing presence in the UK, with value rising 6.6% from £11.8m to £12.6m in 2016 and volume up 9.6% to 37,970 9l cases [Nielsen 52 w/e 8 October 2016].