The Handbook
The Handbook

Think of Taittinger and you’re whisked away to the vine strewn slopes and stunning vistas of the Champagne region, morning mists and boulangerie runs, ruddy cheeked peasants waving as you trundle around in your 2CV puffing on a Gaulois and chewing on a bulb of garlic. You’re not thinking of suburban sprawl just off the M20. Welcome to Ashford, Tattinger.

The French Champagne house has just been granted permission to build a massive winery in the Kentish countryside by Ashford Borough Council in a move that will produce 400,000 bottles of English Taittinger and, more importantly, cements the rise of English wine.

It's no real surprise that a Grande Marque Champagne house like Taittinger would want a piece of the English countryside

Gone are the days when wine from these shores was scoffed at internationally and eschewed domestically, English wine has achieved what Californian and Australian producers did before, respectability. Thanks in no small part to brands like Nyetimber, the quality and consistency of English wine has risen to the point where it is often on par with European competitors. And so it’s no real surprise that a Grande Marque Champagne house like Taittinger would want a piece of the English countryside.

The plan, green-lit this week, will allow for a large state-of-the-art winery and visitor centre as the centre-piece to their 550 acre Chilham vineyard. The company bought the land in 2015, planted chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes in 2017 and plans to release the first bottles in 2024.

With parking for up to 32 cars and far reaching views across the North Downs toward Chilham Castle, the winery will offer tours (and, we’d hope, tasting) for guests and is a collaboration between Taittinger and British partner Hatch Mansfield.

Forget spending a day driving down to Reims, now (well, in four years time) you can have an authentic wine experience just an hour (or so) outside of London! But will it have the same romance? ‘Peut-être?’…