By Deborah Jackson, Editor, National Liquor News

During a recent visit to Australia Clovis Taittinger spoke to National Liquor News about the style, attitude and superlative quality that make Champagne Taittinger.

Is rosé becoming a big push for you at the moment?
For us rosé has always been one of the most historical and important wines in our range. Australia has never really been a big country for sparkling rosé and Champagne Rosé, and at Taittinger we want to be a sparkling leader and to contribute to the development of sparkling rosé. So I would say it is a friendly push, with lots of opportunities for discovery. Not a push-push. Australia is very big with everything, but particularly with being a leisure country and I think Champagne and Champagne Rosé are doing well, or can do well here.

Do you think Taittinger is more of an on- or off-premise brand?
I would say that the roots of the company are very much on-premise and still to this day it does represent the majority of our sales across the world, which is a great asset for the company. Although off-premise has taken on really big importance over the last 10 years for our group, mostly with independent retailers; we are an independent company and so we have a lot in common with independent retailers. But overall whether it is on-premise or off-premise, what we try to have is a really balanced distribution, with a very good positioning.

Do you have to market the brand differently for the Australian market?
It is very tricky, because it is very tempting to do things in a different way in each country in order to feel a bit closer to that country. But the biggest asset of companies like ours is our identity and the last thing you want to do is to dilute that identity too much. So we are asked to make specialised wines for different markets, like China for instance, but that is not what we do. What we do is, we rely on our local partners who have the best understanding possible of the way things are going here, but at the same time delivering our identity and personality. So it’s this balance of local knowledge and what we do in France which will give us the best advantage. On top of that everything is getting so globalised and people travel more and more and it is very important to us that if you are drinking our rosé in Sydney, New York or Paris, it has to be the same – the same quality level, the same standard. So we have one quality, one identity but then our local partners as well. The DNA of our company is that we are wine growers, wine makers, we are not a marketing company that creates a new product every two months and for every new season.

We’ve been hearing a lot about weather problems, particularly frost damaging vineyards in France, has this been a problem for you?
This year we had a significant frost in March and then again in April, although it was not as bad as in Bordeaux, but we lost 30 per cent of our harvest. Then we had a good maturation of our remaining grapes. But then we had other problems with a very severe rainy period, mixed with some very warm weather which has created some botrytis, so it has been a very complex year. The quality will be there, but much less quantity, but the wine will be great.

How big is the Australian market for you?
Australia is big for Champagne and it is big for Taittinger as well, it is one of our top five countries in the world, but not just because of the value, you are also very big in our hearts.

For more from Clovis including key selling points and advice for retailers trying to push Taittinger Rosé, see the November issue of National Liquor News.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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