As the export director for one of the world's leading Champagne houses, Clovis Taittinger — from Champagne Taittinger — spends much of his time travelling, helping to expand his family's brand around the world.
It's fitting, then, that he's named after an ancient king, Clovis I, who united much of what is now France in about 500 AD, and was the region's first Catholic ruler.
"Clovis was one of the fathers of the modern country of France," says Taittinger. "He was a victorious king, a great king and conquerer."
As for Taittinger himself, he's on a path to conquer the world of wine — in particular, of course, Champagne. A typical day? There isn't one, he says. "We are in 140 countries in the world and, as you can imagine, every one of those countries needs specific attention, a specific plan and a specific strategy."
And this past fall, Taittinger became the first Champagne house to invest in England's burgeoning sparkling wine business, buying vineyards in Kent with a group of investors.
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, Clovis Taittinger is on the road a lot. One day, may be at a meeting in the U.S. or a dinner in Canada. Or Asia. Or Scandinavia. Or perhaps he'll be at home; he and his family live in the heart of Paris, in the first arrondissement, only blocks from the Louvre museum and the Tuileries Garden.
Married to a woman that he met at university (he holds a master's degree in history from the Sorbonne), Taittinger is the father of two young children. He and his sister Vitalie (who works in marketing and design, and is often seen in the Taittinger advertisements) joined the family business at the urging of their father, who spent more than 30 years dedicated to the company, which received its name in 1932. (For a time, Champagne Taittinger was owned by Starwood Hotels, but Taittinger's father bought it back in 2006.)
"I do my best to balance the company and private life," Taittinger says.
"It's important for the company to have people bearing the name of the brand. We are a small team, and we are all very much involved in the operation of the company."
Words of a leader, from a king of Champagne.
What friends would fine in his home cellar: "They won't find anything very interesting, some good bottles of Bordeaux, some that I can find in the shops around the corners from where I live. But I'm not a collector. I have no patience for that. I'm living in Paris in a small flat. I have no room for a cellar. I keep one or two cases of stuff, but that's it."
How he gained his wine knowledge: "It's learning by drinking, by experience. I grew up in it, the wine education given by my father and learning through the people who make the wine and their stories."
His favourite tunes: "I like French music, all French music, especially from the '870s and '80s. I grew up on that and I still very much lean toward that. Most of them have died, but they were very famous: Claude Francois, Jacques Brel, Joe Dassin. They are very different from each other but they were the musical pride of France at the time and they are still very popular. It's very easy-listening, good melodies, good feelings. It's about the good old times."
When he's not talking about wine or spending time with his family: "I'm a great reader. I love reading, and I read all kinds of books, about war, crime, biography, a very diverse selection."