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Kent is starting to make a name for itself for its high quality vineyards. Taittinger is set to become the first French champagne maker to produce sparking wine in England. The company has joined forces with British distributor Hatch Mansfield to buy 69 hectares of farmland near Canterbury in southeast England for £4m to £5m.

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, the company's president said there are plans to produce high quality wines from the land acquired. He said the chalky soils of Kent were ideal to make "a great" sparkling wine in Britain's increasingly mild climate due to global warming.

Southern England is starting to make a name for itself as an up and coming wine region due to warmer summers which are favourable for the cultivation of grapes. Since 2000, the sparkling wine industry has been growing in the region.

Taittinger will plant the first 30 to 40 hectares of land in Kent with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, with the first harvest expected in three to four years. The first bottles of sparkling wines are expected to be sold within seven to eight years, he told Reuters.

He said the new wine produced in Kent will be called Domaine Evremond after Charles de Saint-Evremond, a Frenchman who lived in exile in England in the late 1600s and helped contribute to the popularity of champagne at the court of King Charles II.

Taittlnger exports most of its champagne produced in France. The UK is its biggest market, accounting for 255 of its export market.

Outside France, Taittinger also has sparkling wine vineyards in the US. It launched Domaine Carneros in the US in 1987, a joint-venture with the Kopf family of Kobrand Wine & Spirits.