The very first in the family to express an interest in winemaking was Fiacre Taillet, who made wines in Merfy as far back as 1400. Jump forward a few centuries and his descendant (another Fiacre) is doing the exact same thing. However this Fiacre was scrupulous in documenting his projects, from winemaking to the socio-political climate of the time, Fiacre left behind him a comprehensive view of what it meant to be a winemaker in the 18th century. This ritual stuck and each Taillet to come after Fiacre has kept written logs.
The current winemaker Alexandre Chartogne-Taillet has kept logs of his own since he took over in 2006. The double barrel surname is a result of the marriage of Marie Chartogne and Etienne Taillet in 1920, following which the estate was built to carry both of their names.
Alexandre worked alongside Anselme Selosse which has profoundly effected his style of winemaking today. Selosse was the pioneer of organic viniculture in Champagne and Alexandre certainly mirrors that spirit with his increasingly focused and pure wines.
The vineyards of Chartogne-Taillet are located on the Montagne de Reims, in an area long associated to winemaking. These hills were first cultivated with vines by the Romans, later being maintained by the monks of the Abbey if Saint-Thierry. Merfy is a village which has always been known for its exceptional wines, often served at the tables of kings. “What is unusual about Merfy is that we have clay and sand over chalk,” says Alexandre, “so the vines are living in two different environments. It’s important that the roots go deep into the ground in order to extract real minerality, and sometimes our roots go down more than 20 meters.”
The focus on family in winemaking is a common theme, however no more than at Chartogne-Taillet, with their tradition of handwritten logs which are passed down from generation to generation. Even one of their main cuvées “Fiacre” which is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, from two neighbouring vineyards, is named after the man who began this impressive Champagne dynasty.
– Lucy Kelly