Champagne Tattinger in Reims, France is in the top 10 of Champagne sales globally and this shows in the polish that is their tourist visitor center. Their staff is multilingual, the introduction video looks like the most cliche’ marketing video I’ve ever seen and the tour was very well scripted. These big places leave a bad taste in your mouth if you have done your research and know some of the truth behind the tour statements. The prices are high, demand is high and most people that visit these large houses are tourists who know very little about Champagne or lack the adventure to visit smaller producers.
However, the 2.5 million bottles stored in their caves and walking tour through them was a lot of fun. It was 41 Euro per person for the highest tier tasting and tour which took just over 1 hour with a group that was 4 Americans, 8 Chinese and another 5 or so Europeans. When you look at sales of Champagne, that tour-mix actually makes a lot of sense.
Tattinger’s intro video showed how Saint Dom Perignon himself helped them make the first bottles of wine. Their caves were deep below an abbey that was destroyed in World War 1 and they are made of chalk which the mines / caves today are relics of the immense mining of chalk that was used at the time as a building material. Despite this history <enter annoying techno music> Tattinger is cool, hip and ready for the modern Champagne buyer’s discerning palate. *barf* That video really was awful. “We are classic and hip. We appeal to everyone.”
Below the main building are caves that hold millions of bottles. I saw that most bottles alongside our tour path are 3 and 6 liter bottles which I imagine is intentional for people to oggle over. Supposedly the business is 100% family owned according to our tour guide. I challenged her on this but she remained persistent. Wikipedia says a USA Equity Firm bought some parts of Tattinger (mostly hotels) in 2005 but a Tattinger still owns the Champagne side of things. I doubt there aren’t foreign investors. A multi-billion dollar family business with no outside parties?
The high-end tasters I had were very good but their standard offerings were just okay. Like most big places, there were bottles for sale to-go but the cost was higher than we’d pay here in USA and unlike most European countries, the region has specific limits on how much Champagne can be served at a tasting which I assume is because Americans were drinking too much and driving to the next winery and getting in a traffic incident while en route.
Despite the negatives, the caves were very cool and I took a few photos to share here.