Images credit : Thomas Alexander
Taittinger plant a new vineyard in Kent 'Domaine Evremond'
and unearth a 450 million year old fossil in the vineyard.
The famous champagne house - 'Tattinger'- have bought land in the South East of England in Kent and planted their own vineyard with the classic champagne and sparkling wine grape varieties. In doing so they came across a unique find in the new English vineyard, an ancient fossil.
The new vineyard is called 'Domaine Evremond' which takes its name from Charles de Saint-Evremond (1614-1703). He was a Frenchman and the first true ambassador for Champagne. He helped to fuel Champagne’s popularity in England at the court of Charles II.
Charles de Saint-Evremond was a poet, epicurean and literary critic. rather aptly he is buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, the owner of the famous champagne house with the same name, is a passionate historian and decided to name the new English vineyard in Kent in Charles de Saint-Evremond memory.
The new English vineyard titled 'Domaine Evremond' is a joint collaboration between the french Champagne brand Taittinger, who are the majority shareholders, and its UK agent Hatch Mansfield and investor friends.
Two years after the first plantings at Domaine Evremond’s vineyard site in Chilham, Kent, Champagne Taittinger have since announced the news that they bought a further 8.5 hectares of to be planted with vines in May 2019.
Christelle Rinville, viticulturist for Champagne Taittinger, oversaw the new plantings at the site in the south-east of England. These latest plantings on English chalk soil and sunny south-facing slopes, comprise vines of Pinot Noir - 60% and Chardonnay - 40% bringing the total area under vine at Domaine Evremond to 28.5 hectares.
Patrick McGrath, Managing Director of Hatch Mansfield, comments: “These new plantings took place in ideal conditions on two adjacent sites, and we are optimistic that they will produce top quality fruit in the future.”
Champagne Taittinger is the first big Champagne House to establish a vineyard in the UK and will be making 'premium English Sparkling wine'. The Domaine Evremond vineyard is a joint venture between Champagne Taittinger - the only Grande Marque Champagne House to be run by its eponymous family - its UK agency Hatch Mansfield Ltd, and friends.
The first full vintage at Domaine Evremond is aimed for this coming October with the fruit from vines first planted in May 2017. They hope that a potential release date for the English sparkling wines could be 2024.
The famous Taittinger family has over 80 years of winemaking expertise in Champagne and they plan to use this to their full advantage. This unrivalled experience and alongside its British team they belive that they will create 'Premium English Sparking wine of real excellence'.
An ancient Fossil
To help get the new English vineyard underway the Master of Wine Stephen Skelton has been advising on the planting regime and how to get the most out this new English vineyard.
In doing so, Stephen came across the most remarkable find in the new English vineyard, a fossil dating back 450million years which he says was 'just lying there on the surface'.
Image of the fossil taken by Stephen Skelton
Stephen goes on to say that from a quick Google search It's complete to the best of his knowledge and that 'you can see where the spikes were'.
Stephen has worked on many English vineyards and in doing so he has come across various 'bits of old agricultural iron and the odd horseshoe, but nothing very interesting'. He goes onto say that 'This has by far been the most interesting find to date.'
If you're wondering what Stephen has done with the fossil he states that ' it's on my desk.It makes a great paperweight'.
Stephen explains that they have planted the classic sparkling wine grape varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and some Pinot Meunier with the plan being just for sparkling wine at the moment with the possibility of still wines in the future.
Stephen mentioned that the new English vineyards 'are the steepest of the sites we have - we have three other big blocks - and face a bit more west than the others. One site is very sheltered and has less chalk. The other is bit more exposed and higher in chalk content.'
These are all great indications of being top quality sites to plant an English vineyard which will be ideal for producing English sparkling wine.