Champagne Bruno Paillard Reflects After Turning 40

Champagne Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV  

© Etienne Ramousse / photo provided

Champagne Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV

Champagne Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV  

© Etienne Ramousse / photo provided Champagne Bruno Paillard Reflects After Turning 40 Bruno Paillard founded his eponymous Champagne house in 1981, making it one of the youngest in the region. The 40th anniversary last year prompted a few changes.

“Last year Maison Bruno Paillard turned 40,” says Alice Paillard, the founder’s daughter who now runs the estate. This was “a milestone which caused us to reflect on our evolution; the natural progression towards being exclusively extra brut; and the acquisition of more vineyards which now make up the majority of our cuvées. Both these principles remain faithful to our original quest to express the purity of the great terroir of Champagne.”

Pioneering house

Bruno Paillard was a Champagne broker before founding his house, which gave him a great perspective when sourcing wines and building his business. Purity and expression were his highest aim from the start, which explains the stellar rise of the house in ultra-quick time. It was Paillard who pioneered stating the disgorgement dates on the bottle's back label as early as 1983 – a move that has since been copied by many. He has been a steadfast agent for progress and transparency in the region. The commitment to extra brut dosage (up to 6g/l) likewise underlines the commitment to purity and quality.

Anniversary reflections

More subtle adjustments have also been made to packaging. “We have retained the packaging elements so special to us, such as the bottle shape which is inspired by 18th century bottles,” Alice Paillard says.  But a new logo, a woven design, “was inspired by the shape of a shell from the soil of our Chèvres pierreuses plot in Cumières. The circular movement is also a symbol of the perpetual reserve, a principle dear to our Maison, which has preserved its style over the years. The logo’s flexible geometric shape illustrates the links to the vine shoots and the vineyard. This design is circular, yet not closed; it expresses the importance of being turned towards the world.”

The caress of silk

The house’s Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is the first wine to bear the new label. Apart from being a supremely elegant expression of a blanc de blancs, this wine also stands out for another reason: its lower pressure.  Champagne bottles usually have five bars of pressure, hence the sturdy bottle with a punt and the muselet, or wire, which keeps the cork in place. When the second fermentation which puts the bubbles and therefore the pressure in the wine – via dissolved carbon dioxide – is made with less sugar, there will be less pressure and the mousse will be softer, yet still lively.

“Our Blanc de Blancs is rooted in the very heart of Côte des Blancs: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger. These extraordinary terroirs are particularly demanding. We wish to enhance their inner energy as much as we want to civilise it. This is why the lower pressure decision is a part of the equation for this cuvée. But part only,” Alice says. “We wanted it to feel like the caress of silk. In order to apprehend the full expression of taste, one must never forget texture. It was ultimately crafted to let our Chardonnay express the full depth and minerality of carefully selected Côte des Blancs vineyards. To that end, the winemaking decisions and the choice to fine-tune the pressure is indeed an integral part of making this wine. It also contributes a delicate and ethereal feel to the wine. It is worth clarifying that it is not a demi-mousse per se and the end pressure sits well above three bars.”

The most recent disgorgement of Champagne Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV was in October 2021 with a dosage of 5g/l. The wine is made exclusively from the first pressing of Chardonnay grapes from grand cru vineyards in Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger. It contains reserve wines going back to 1985, explaining its extraordinary depth.