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Claude Taittinger: Obituary

Claude Taittinger, the emblematic figure of his family's Champagne House and one of the most important pioneers of the region's wines, has died at the age of 94.

Claude took over Champagne Taittinger, which was founded by his father Pierre Taittinger in 1932, in 1960 following the death of his brother, François. He served first as managing director and then president of the company until 2005.

During his tenure, he grew Champagne Taittinger from a niche label into a brand with international scale.

Moreover, as one of the pioneers of the broader Champagne category’s international success during the 20th century, Claude has been credited with taking France’s unique sparkling wine into the modern era and cementing its position as a luxury product.

When Claude joined the company in 1949, his brother sent him around the world to promote their family’s wines. He became not only an ambassador for the Taittinger label but also for the wider Champagne category, promoting the region and its wines in markets across the globe.

Claude was also a gifted storyteller and communicator – in 1962, he commissioned a revolutionary survey into the French public’s attitudes towards Champagne.

The results led Taittinger to become one of the first Champagne houses to communicate with consumers directly through sophisticated and effective publicity campaigns.

That talent for storytelling shone in the way he spoke to amateur wine lovers about the emotions behind Champagne, rather than focussing simply on the technicalities of production.

His gift for communication also led Claude to form links within the culinary and artistic worlds.

In 1967, he created the Pierre Taittinger International Culinary Prize in honour of his father – himself a knowledgeable food lover – and in 1983 he launched the Taittinger Collection, with world-renowned artists designing labels for the House’s vintage Champagnes.

In 1987, Claude led the family’s investment in Domaine Carneros at the foot of Napa Valley in California, a final international adventure that he shared with his nephew and successor as president, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger.

Claude died on 3 January in Paris. He leaves his wife, Catherine, three daughters Birgitte, Virginie and Christine, twelve grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

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