Champagne Taittinger Trio that are Great Value: Les Folies de La Marquetterie, Prelude, and Vintage 2015

The last time I visited Taittinger was a lot of fun. The House was, as it and so many others always are, guilty of the most generous hospitality. This time, on my arrival, there was much whispering and not a little agitation.

Nothing to do with me, as it happens, and I knew precisely why, but was not quite sure how to address it.

Champagne Taittinger vineyards (photo courtesy Thomas Alexander)

First though, regular readers will be aware that we have looked at the champagnes from Taittinger on numerous occasions here at Quill and Pad, though usually their prestige Comtes de Champagne – 2007, 2008 and 2012 specifically, but also in passing with other vintages such as their glorious 2002.

We have more than covered the House, its history, and indeed, its link with James Bond (it was his original preference when it came to champagne, largely because author Ian Fleming was a fan,) in sufficient detail.

Back to the visit. I was ushered into the small theatre they have and shown the latest video, introducing the House and its wines. I’m sure it has been upgraded or amended since then, but it focused very heavily on the concept of blending – vineyards, regions, vintages and varieties – which is the very lifeblood of the Champagne district.

We caught up in a stunning room for a chat and a tasting and the wine they were keen for me to see what was, for me, a new wine, their Les Folies de La Marquetterie NV (A$150), which I found a touch ironic as at the time, it was from a single vineyard.

We proceeded with the tasting but finally, they could hold back no longer and I was asked if I would especially mind if they put the television on in the background. They seemed mortified to be asking, but I insisted that not only did I not mind, I was very much hoping they would.

My visit had coincided not only with the World Cup (soccer), but literally exactly with kick-off for one of France’s most important games (I bet whoever scheduled that was not popular).

So the tasting continued and we all enjoyed a French victory (trust me, I suspect I may not have seen quite so many superb wines had the French not been victorious).

Champagne Taittinger wine vats



Les Folies de La Marquetterie

The Les Folies de La Marquetterie is a fascinating champagne.

Champagne Taittinger’s Château de la Marquetterie

The Château de la Marquetterie was, prior to the French Revolution, the residence of Jacques Cazotte, author of French classic ‘Le Diable Amoureux’ (I’ll confess, not a subject we studied at school, Down Under) and was also used by General Castelnau as headquarters during the Battle of Champagne. In 1915 (my grandfather spent around three-and-a-half years enjoying French hospitality in the trenches at this time, much of it in this area, so this is much more familiar to me).

Later, it was considered to be the birthplace for Champagne Taittinger.

Champagne Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie NV

Les Folies de La Marquetterie is a non-vintage blend of 45% Chardonnay and 55% Pinot Noir. Each parcel is vinified discretely and they also use oak on certain occasions. Many years before, on my first visit to Taittinger, I remember seeing small oak barrels in use for a tiny percentage of their wonderful Comtes. I thought I might have a scoop, but apparently it was well known as part of the experimentation of the time and has been used since.  

The wine usually sees five years on lees. Originally, Les Folies de la Marquetterie was exclusively made from grapes sourced from the Folies vineyard overlooking Château de la Marquetterie; however, it has become a victim of its own success and they now need to supplement that with other estate vineyards, noticeably from Trépail, Mailly, Verzenay and Hautvillers. They note that 35 crus are now incorporated. The feeling is that this has led to a slightly riper style.

Les Folies de la Marquetterie NV is definitely a champagne worth seeking. An attractive pale gold, the nose offers notes of brioche and nuts, stonefruits, peaches, ginger, figs, glacéd fruits and strawberries and cream. The palate sees appealing hints of gingerbread. There is good concentration and vibrant, if slightly bitey acidity. The palate is richly flavoured and complex. We see hints of plums and spices and a minerally/chalky backing.

This is energetic, fresh and offering excellent length. Lots to love here. While gorgeous drinking now, there is no reason that this would not benefit from five to ten years in the cellar. It would be an ideal champagne to match with richer dishes. 94.

Price: around 65 euros

Champagne Taittinger vineyards



Prelude NV

As much as I love the Folies, I am even more enamored of another from the Taittinger range, the Prelude NV (A$145). This is a wine of great depth and beauty. A blend of Chardonnay (50%) and Pinot Noir (50%) from Grand Crus only. The first press is used, nothing else, and the wine spends more than five years on lees.

Champagne Taittinger Prelude NV

The Chardonnay is sourced from Avize and Mesnil-sur-Oger, while the Pinot Noir hails from Mailly, Bouzy and Ambonnay. Dosage sits around 10 g/l, which may seem a little high these days (perhaps marginally), but the balance is so impeccable that this is not the least problem.

A gleaming pale straw hue, the wine positively screams elegance and intensity. A seamless style, we have notes of quince, stonefruits, lemongrass, florals, honey and peaches. A note like roasted apricots. There are hints of raspberries to be seen here.

A champagne which is all class and drinking majestically at the moment.

Warmth and focus and their typical creamy texture, before a lingering crescendo of rich flavors, honeycomb, florals and berries. No reason at all that this won’t provide even more pleasure after six or ten years in the cellar. 95.

Price: around 55 euros

Taittinger cellar (photo courtesy Louis Teran)



Vintage 2015

Finally, the third of our trio, the Vintage 2015 (A$155). I believe that some places around the world have moved on to the 2016 and, while that has not graced downunder shores as yet, my thoughts would be to grab whatever 2015 you can.

Champagne Taittinger Vintage 2015

We have been blessed with quite a few wonderful vintages for champagne this century – 2002, 2004, the scintillating 2008, 2009 (which has very much been a year that has been under the radar, but its glories are starting to emerge), another superstar in 2012 and very solid years in 2013, 2014 and 2015. On the horizon, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are all extremely promising, all potential superstars. Exciting times, indeed.

2016 does seem to be receiving generally positive reviews for the region – two MWs have considered it. Jancis Robinson sees it as above average with Pinot Noir outshining Chardonnay, while Charles Curtis, in his book, ‘Vintage Champagne: 1899 to 2019’, one to which we have often turned, describes it as a three-star vintage (out of a possible five), “a problematic season that ended reasonably well”.

They are considerably more enchanted with the year than I find myself. The 2016s I have encountered have largely been uninspiring. Dull, a little muddled, lacking focus. I suspect that in past decades, 2016 might have been largely skipped as a vintage year and the grapes held in reserve for non-vintage releases. For me, there are better years on which to spend money.

If one may briefly digress, in any other region, this would not be an issue. The wine world accepts that there are good and lesser vintages. The problem is that they are expected to produce a vintage wine every year, so this is acceptable. In Champagne, lesser years were used for non-vintage wines.

Only good years were released. Expectations were set in place. These days, the trend with many houses is to try and release a vintage every year if possible, so we are seeing lesser efforts declared.

I have no doubt that there will be some very good 2016s, but overall, should you focus on other years, you won’t miss much. It will be fascinating to see which houses choose to release a prestige champagne from the year. Word has it that Louis Roederer will release a Cristal and Taittinger will release their Comtes, so we’ll see to what level they can ascend.

Of course, all that is moot for today and we have the 2015. Curtis also gives it three stars and describes it as a “hot, dry year without the excess of 2003”. 2003, for those not keeping up to date, was a horrible year. Robinson is more positive about the vintage, noting the richness and ripeness the wines offer, and stressing that Pinot Noir was especially good.

The Taittinger 2015 is also an equal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with 70% of the fruit from Grand Cru vineyards, the remainder from Premier Cru vineyards. The wine spends around five years on lees.

The 2015 is a deep gold/green hue. Richly flavoured, this is a champagne that is dense but dancing. Citrus, lemongrass, peaches, a flicker of red berries, stewed apricots, a touch of ginger and a whiff of vanilla. A lovely line of saline acidity runs the length of the wine. It is nicely balanced and has a good lingering finish.

Certainly a good five to six years ahead of it, but it is delicious drinking now, with the ripeness and opulence on offer. The ‘15s seem destined to be a vintage that is not particularly long-lived so enjoying them now seems the go. The champagne maintains the Taittinger DNA of elegance, which is neatly woven with the richness of the vintage. 94.

Price: around 55 euros

Champagne Taittinger grape picking


None of these three champagnes are considered as prestige releases – for Taittinger, that would be their brilliant Comtes de Champagne – and consequently they are priced well below, each coming in at around one-third of the price of Comtes. You can’t go wrong.

They are all beautiful champagnes and will reward drinking now or time in the cellar. Compelling evidence that, despite the price of champagnes being very much on the rise, you can still drink extremely well without needing to take out a second mortgage or selling a child. If you want to drink prestige cuvees these days, you might have to think about putting a child on the market.

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You might also enjoy:

Champagne Taittinger Comtes Blanc de Blancs 2012: Not Just a Great Champagne, it’s a Great Wine!

Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Blanc Des Blancs 2008: James Bond Will Like It

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2007: 96/100 Now And Set To Improve Over The Next 20 Years

Champagne Heaven! A Sublime Tasting Session With Pierre Peters Les Chétillons 2007, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2007, Henriot Cuve 38, And Salon 1988 And 1999

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