Coming from a long line of prestigious champagne makers, it is clear for Virgnie Taittinger that champagne runs in her blood. Together with her son Ferdinand Pougatch, who has joined the company as brand manager, they set out to push innovation in the traditional world of champagne.
What was it like working with your father, Claude Taittinger, running the Tattinger Champagne business for over 40 years?
My father, Claude Tattinger was the CEO of Taittinger for over forty years. My mother, Catherine de Suarez d’Aulan is the daughter of Yolande Kunkelmann, who owned Piper-Heidsieck until 1988. I guess it’s quite evident that sparkling champagne is in my blood, and that I was genetically programmed to work in this bubbly world.
When I joined Champagne Taittinger in 1986 at my father’s side, I learned all the skills connected to the production, handling, and international marketing of champagne. They were twenty-one unbelievable, but also challenging years. Claude Taittinger is a legend in the world of champagne and the pressure was intense. Well, at least that was what I thought before working with my son, who is a legend in his own right.
After working with your father, you then started your own eponymous Champagne brand, Champagne Virginie T, with your son Ferdinand. How important is it for you to keep the business within the family?
I created Champagne Virginie T. not for myself, but for my family. After Champagne Taittinger was sold in 2006, my passion for champagne and my dedication to the future of my children inspired me to start this new adventure. Working with my son Ferdinand is essential to creating the soul of tomorrow’s champagne.
It is a rare and beautiful privilege for a mother to have the opportunity to share my savoir-faire with my son. The empathy between mother and son is integral to creating our beautiful champagne. Working within the family is all about tradition, know-how, and a day-and-night, seven days a week kind of devotion, because the bubbly never sleeps!
Tell us a little bit about the signature Grande Cuvée 6 ans of Virginie T. What makes this series so special?
The world of champagne is very traditional and with very traditional players. When I first started Virginie T. I knew I had to be different, and that I had to think differently. In order to succeed, we had no other choice but to bring something new, innovative, and surprising! I am not here to compete against the “Grandes Maisons” but to show that there is always room for innovation in a traditional environment.
The Grande Cuvée 6 ans d’âge has a very strong personality. I am a woman champagne maker and very proud of it. This cuvée proves that I have the confidence to prosper in the world of champagne.
Could you walk us through the champagne making process that each Virginie T. Grande Cuvée undergoes?
I chose to combine the best Grands Crus from the 2008 harvest which is truly outstanding vintage; 15% of reserve cuvée from the 2007 harvest, and the final 85% of our Crus which are classified as Grands et Premiers Crus from la Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, and Côte des Blancs.
The Grande Cuvée 6 ans has been aged “sur lies”, in our cellars for six years — which is three times the average ageing of a regular champagne Brut. Six years of cellar ageing refines and intensifies the diversity of aromas and undoubtedly develops a long finish.
One of your mottos is “Innovation in Creation” how do you incorporate this into Virginie T.?
There is no other champagne house that is exclusively distributed online. Also, each Champagne Virginie T. Grande Cuvée 6 ans comes in a spectacularly innovative box that transforms into a lovely ice bucket.
To take the innovation one step further, we have designed a highly technical label that will maximise your drinking pleasure with the use of thermo-chromic ink. When the V In the label turns pink, this indicates that your champagne is now at the ideal drinking temperature of 8°C — 10°C.
What is next for you and Virginie T.? Any exciting plans for 2017?
We want to keep surprising our customers, so we will launch a completely new and special cuvée each and every year. Our next cuvée is due out in 2017.
Interview by Hannah Tan