Clovis Taittinger arrives serene and aloof, he smiles as he introduces himself and we take a sit in the lobby of The Dean Hotel. If the name rings a bell is because he’s part of the family who runs Taittinger Champagne, one of the few brands still held by its namesakes in the region.
His tranquil demeanor was intermittent: It was on when talking about his background in consultancy and real state and when answering the box-ticker questions. “Of course it is a big interest”, he goes, when asked about the importance of the 69 hectares of land that his family purchased in Kent, UK, one of the most promising regions for British sparkling wine. You can feel he has been asked about the topic plenty of times as he scriptedly mentions that it will take at least a septennium for the wine to be available and that the project is a big adventure received with great enthusiasm.
But his expression changed and went brighter when Champagne arrived to the table. Literally, as the waitress poured, and metaphorically, in the conversation. He didn’t need to tell how passionate he is about it, the way his serenity turned into eagerness and his aloofness was replaced with purpose spoke for itself. “We are the wardens of the temple”, the gate keepers, he says, bestowing his family with the epic responsibility of preserving the vineyard for generations to come.
This deep sense of legacy is a shared value in the Taittinger house. In fact, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, Clovis’ father and CEO of Champagne Taittinger since 2007, was a very active participant in the process of getting Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars approved as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. This year he became President of the region’s UNESCO project after the sudden death of Pierre Cheval.
This is a wonderful opportunity for Champagne to showcase the wines, but also our culture and the history of the region
He goes on about the historical value of the Champagne region, “Cathedrals, vineyards, its Gaelic influences, its Roman influences… The history of Champagne is the history of France.”
What is the main benefit of keeping Taittinger as a family-run business?
“The main benefit is for the consumers. Taittinger has earned credibility and it’s a name that relates to authenticity and quality. As long as my father or myself and our family is involved, we’ll never compromise on that.”
His father, who has mentioned publicly and in several occasions that he plans to retire at 65, is 63 at the moment and hasn’t pointed out a successor. Clovis, who has a sister that also works for the family’s company is a strong candidate to carrying the torch next. For him, the most important lesson his father has passed on is to “never compromise, always be yourself and dream, never aim low in your dreams.”
That comment led to inquiry about his own dreams, and he does aim high: “My real dream, my biggest dream, is a happy world where people are aware of the importance of the environment and of preserving our species, a world that is not just about money but about quality of life.”
Inspired about all the dream talk, Clovis shares another of his interests, reading. His current book is Belgian author Georges Simenon’s L’Aîné des Ferchaux (Magnet of Doom). A mystery novel makes sense as he mentions “life’s too short” and he enjoys “to be surprised”.
Perhaps that’s why he remains open minded about the future, “plans are guided by life” he says, and life, just like Champagne, is “unexpected, funny and unpredictable” . However, the surprising part for Clovis is not the drink itself -which surely he knows well enough- “it’s what happens after. There is a magic in drinking Champagne.”
There is a magic indeed. And Clovis Tattinger is the sorcerer’s apprentice, a guardian of an heritage that is his and also the world’s. “It’s my name on the bottle” he says, and you can notice he’s aware that with a great name, comes great responsibility.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.