A few quick thoughts on the Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée NV Brut Champagne.
Note: This wine was a sample.
Bruno Paillard founded his eponymous house in 1981 when he was just 27 years old. Right away, Paillard forged his own path, pioneering the use of back label disgorgement dates in 1983.
He also took a considerable gamble for a young house by forgoing the tricky 1984 vintage because the quality didn’t meet Paillard’s standards. In her book, Champagne, Master of Wine Serena Sutcliffe noted that this hard decision cost Paillard over 1 million francs but solidified his quality-minded reputation.
Today, Bruno Paillard owns 32 ha (79 acres) of vineyards, which covers about 60% of their production. These include choice plots in the Grand Cru villages of Oger, Le Mesnil and Verzenay as well as highly esteemed Premier Cru vineyards in Cumières. All estate vineyards are farmed sustainably, with many plots organic and biodynamic.
The Première Cuvée is 45% Pinot noir, 33% Chardonnay and 22% Meunier, partially fermented in oak barrels with MLF allowed. The blend includes up to 50% reserve wines aged in a modified solera system that Paillard developed in 1985. This is impressive considering many NV usually only have 20-40% reserve wine.
Paillard treats his NV like a vintage Champagne with 3 years on the lees before disgorgement and dosage of 6 g/l.
High-intensity nose. Ripe apple with zesty lemon rind. Roasted almonds add a smokey note.
On the palate, the ripeness of the apple comes through. But the creaminess of the mouthfeel makes the lemon more custardy. Very well balanced with the dosage and lively high acidity. Long finish keeps the smokey notes and adds a little ginger spice.
This is truly an NV that over-delivers at vintage Champagne level. Exceptionally well made with excellent complexity. It’s averaging around 46 euros ($51), but if you can find this in the US for under $70, you’re getting a steal.
Really enjoyed this Bruno Paillard interview with Lisa Denning of Grape Collective about organic viticulture in Champagne.