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.

Bruno Paillard Brut Millesime 2008 Assemblage 2

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 aging 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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