Tuesday, December 14, 2021

"Multivintage" Bruno Pailiard Première Cuvée Champagne: Pure Elegance

"Frog eyes should not be in your bubbly."
--Bruno Paillard

That's a quote that has remained with me for the last ten years. While I was touring the Champagne region, I visited the small House, Champagne Bruno Pailiard, and listened to the passionate, and outspoken, Bruno Paillard. I wrote about my experiences in Champagne Bruno Pailiard: The Art of Assemblage. In short, Bruno feels that the bubbles in Champagne should be tiny, almost microscopic, and that large bubbles, "frog eyes" have no place in a quality Champagne. Few would dispute that Bruno Paillard produces high quality Champagne. 

Champagne Bruno Pailiard is a small, family-owned Champagne House that was established in 1981, making it 40 years old this year. They currently own about 79 acres of vineyards, almost half of which are Grand Cru. In general, the vineyards are farmed organically and sustainably. They also purchase about 50% of their grapes from a variety of other growers. Bruno sees this as an advantage, because he then gains access to so many different plots and terroirs. This allows him much more versatility and diversity in his Champagne blends, like giving him a vast palette of colors to compose his masterpieces.

As I wrote before, "To Bruno, the blend is the true heart of Champagne, and that assemblage is an artistic process. It is a composition, where different "colors" are used to create a greater "picture." For him, a Champagne label refers more to a person than a place, as it is the person who retains the control over the blend. Thus, a blend is the best way to be loyal to your signature, to express your creativity."

And as Bruno's website states: "A great champagne for Bruno Paillard is – above all – an “assemblage”, blending: of diverse crus, grape varieties and vintages. It is about the constant desire to capture the quintessential finesse and elegance which champagne can bring when it is served with love and care. The Bruno Paillard style is a marriage of elegance and complexity which is manifested as a light and smooth effervescence, a remarkable purity, a true freshness and a silky texture."

I received a media sample of the "Multivintage" Bruno Pailiard Première Cuvée ($60), which is the flagship wine for the Bruno Paillard style. Bruno doesn't like the term "non-vintage," as he believes it's meaningless. He prefers to use the term "multivintage," as it is more indicative of the actuality of the blend, usually a combination of grapes from several different vintages. In general, this Cuvée is a blend of about 25 vintages.

The wine is also a blend of about 45% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 22% Pinot Meunier, from a selection of 35 of the 320 crus of Champagne. The specific selection of crus is kept a secret. The Cuvée is meant to be consistent year to year, even when the harvest isn't the best. In addition, only the first pressing of the grapes is used. The wine is aged for three years sur lie, longer than the legal requirement, and then aged for at least another five months after disgorgement. 

To Bruno, the disgorgement date is an essential element of Champagne production, and in 1983, he was the first Champagne producer to place the disgorgement date on every single bottle of his production.  "By doing this, he tells the consumer about a key moment in the life of a champagne bottle: Disgorgement is like a second birth for the wine." The dosage for this wine is very low, meant to create "a very pure, very authentic champagne." 

The Première Cuvée has a nice golden color and very tiny bubbles are visible in your glass. There's certainly not a single frog eye. The aromas are intriguing, with a fine melange of red berries, orange and grapefruit, and a hint of almond. As I tasted this wine, its elegance, complexity and freshness stood out, pure deliciousness and each sip made me crave more. Dry and crisp, the flavors were complex and tasty, including apple, citrus, almond, a touch of brioche, a streak of minerality, and red fruits, but each sip seemed to bring forth even more flavors. It's the type of Champagne to slowly sip, to revel in the different, intriguing flavors that flit over your palate. The finish is lengthy and satisfying, clean and pure. 

I loved this Champagne! Its elegance, subtlety and complexity were captivating. And it offers so much more than many other Champagnes at a similar price point. It would be great on its own, as an aperitif or celebratory drink, but it would also pair well with a variety of foods. I'd love to drink it with oysters or even lobster. And Champagne and potato chips is always a fun pairing. The Bruno Pailiard Première Cuvée earns my highest recommendation.

No comments: