On January 2, 2020, Vitalie Taittinger becomes president of the family champagne house. The moment is solemn for this 40-year-old woman. She sits at her desk, on the first floor of the brand’s headquarters, in the heart of Reims. She discovers two messages from her father, whom she succeeds. In the right drawer, a little handwritten note to show him his confidence. In the one on the left, an extract from the life of a saint, inviting people to listen and place themselves at the service of others.
He’s like that, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger. He dramatizes his withdrawal as he dramatizes his life. He wants a solemn handover, because it is the result of an extravagant adventure, which saw him, fourteen years earlier, redeem the Taittinger champagne that his family had sold to Americans.
This redemption, many Rémois still speak of it greedily. On November 8, at the stroke of 1 p.m., while Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, 68, was seated in a restaurant in Reims, the cook let him know: “Ah, this recovery! You shit! But what a story! “ We don’t understand anything about this brand of champagne, its identity, how it works, if we don’t start from there. His daughter Vitalie confirms: “The redemption is our marker. “
Let’s resume. On Sunday May 29, 2005, a large majority of the 38 shareholders of the Taittinger family resigned themselves to selling their empire. That is to say 14 palaces, including the Crillon, the Lutetia and the Hotel du Louvre, in Paris, or the Martinez, in Cannes. And then the budget hotel chains Campanile and Kyriad. Other gems, such as the Baccarat crystal factory or the Annick Goutal perfumes. Finally, champagne, the only brand bearing the Taittinger name.
The group is doing well but annual dividends are low, some need new money, others have wealth tax to pay. There are also dissensions within the family. Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, he is against the sale but accepts the law of the majority. On the other hand, that champagne leaves the family fold is ” a tragedy “. He took the crazy idea of buying it, especially since the American investment fund Starwood, which holds the rope to acquire the group, is not interested in bubbles and will resell this brand.
The father, figure of the region
Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger has several reasons for wanting to get his hands on the champagne that bears his name. He has worked in the firm since he was 23, starting at the bottom of the ladder to become its Deputy CEO in 2003. It’s also a matter of honor. Of fidelity to the history of his family. He thinks of his grandfather and founder of the brand, Pierre Taittinger, who bought Forest-Fourneaux champagne in 1934 and gave it his name. He thinks of his uncle François Taittinger, who developed the champagne business until his death in 1960. He thinks of his father, Jean Taittinger, political figure of the region, mayor of Reims from 1959 to 1977, also former minister, who lives in retirement in Switzerland and sees with sadness his group vanish.
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Taittinger, a crazy story of champagne and family