Story and photo by Manos Angelakis
Bruno Paillard Sparklers!
Between Champagne, Crémant, Cava, Franciacorta, Sect and Prosecco there is an ocean of great, just good and middling sparkling wine now in the US market, with every brand vying for attention.
The variety on wine store shelves is such that the traditional French “Grand Houses” that used to dominate the market up to the middle of the 20th century are having difficulty competing. To be honest, the past’s “snob appeal” that many of the Champagne producers depended on to boost sales is no longer working.
Having visited numerous sparkling wine producers in Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany and even Chile and Brazil, I do not see much difference between the better French Champagne product and a very good Cava or even a very good Franciacorta. And, of course, the premium price that the mass French producers try to wring from the public is contributing to sparkling wines aficionados looking for a better wine and a better deal.
Having said that, I still think there are excellent sparklers and value coming out of Champagne, but it is from much smaller producers than the giant mass vintners like LVMH.Some of the Champagnes that I find irresistible come from Bruno Paillard.
A few weeks ago, Bruno was in New York City to showcase his latest releases. For those that don’t know the Maison Bruno Paillard: it is a medium sized innovative producer that offers in the US 3 distinct styles of non-vintage Champagne (a Première Cuvée, a Rosé Première Cuvée and a Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru) plus a vintage dated Millésimé Blanc de Blanc and a Millésimé Assemblage; the final and, to my taste, better product is the N.P.U. i.e. the ”Ne Plus Ultra” which is the result of Bruno’s desire to create the greatest possible Champagne.
Maison Paillard owns a collection of 79 acres of vineyards in a diversity of micro-climates, and produces a limited amount of single-vineyard champagnes, currently sold only in France, while the assemblages and non vintage bottles are also available in the US.
One of the firm’s most notable innovations has been that, since 1983, the “Disgorgement” date appears on the back label. Why is that important? Disgorgement is a core process in the méthode traditionel of sparkling wine-making; the beginning of the ageing process that is more involved than perhaps any other wine style. The aromatic, visual and taste evolution of the bubbly starts when the aging starts. Disgorgement triggers a short, sharp intake of oxygen, which together with dosage will have a significant impact on the wine’s aroma and taste. A bottle develops faster after disgorgement and will taste different let us say six months after disgorgement compared to three years after disgorgement. The evolution of Champagne depends not only on the vintage but also on how long the wine is consumed after disgorgement. Great vintages will comfortably improve for 20 or even 40 years.
To your health!
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