Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvée
 
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Bruno Paillard Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premiere

In 1975, 21-year-old Bruno Paillard followed in his family's footsteps, taking a job as a Champagne broker. Over the following six years, young Paillard scoured the vines and cellars of Cramant, Aÿ, Bouzy and Verzenay. By 1981, at the age of just 27, his knowledge of the region was said to be encyclopedic.

In 1981, with the global economy still teetering after the oil crisis, Bruno rolled the dice as few have ever done in recent Champagne history. First, he quit his job. Then he sold his car and rented a small cellar. A couple months later, he hung out his winemaking shingle, crafting just a few hundred cases of Grand Cru Champagne that stunned critics with their combination of golden color, rich yeastiness, and superb limestone backbone.

The press that followed quickly catapulted Paillard into the top rung of the region's hierarchy. Britain's The Guardian described Paillard's straw-hued Champagnes as "more elegant than Bollinger, Krug and Dom Pérignon!" Then Robert Parker, Jr. piled on, writing: "In an appellation and region where change is measured in centuries, Bruno Paillard has surprisingly emerged in the last decade as one of the bright young stars." Champagne Bruno Paillard took off like a rocket ship.

Having followed Paillard's wines over the last couple of decades, we've been most impressed not only by Bruno's vigilance in the vines and the cellars, but by the superb age-worthiness of his Champagnes two to three years after disgorgement. For those who aren't up to speed on the Champagne process, "dégorgement" is a technique invented by Madame Clicquot in 1816, designed to remove yeast remnants, or lees, prior to final bottling. While the process was carried out manually throughout much of the 1900s, modern automated disgorgement is carried out by freezing a small amount of lees-y liquid at the neck of the bottle, before adding a sugary dosage before final bottling.

Run-of-the-mill Champagnes are initially spruced up by the dosage, before quickly plateauing and declining just three to six months after bottling. But the tête de cuvées of the Montagne de Reims, Cramant and Mesnil are naturally infused with such exquisite richness and steely nerve that they continue to add weight and complexity for years after disgorgement. It's only after tasting the full lineup chez Bruno Paillard in Reims that one fully appreciates The Guardian's comparison with Krug, Bollinger and Dom Pérignon.

From a collector's perspective, and we've been laying down these Champagnes for the better part of 20 years, we particularly appreciate Paillard's "full disclosure" labeling protocol. He was the first producer of non-vintage Champagne to pioneer the routine inclusion of disgorgement dates (so important in determining not only the freshness of a cuvée, but the likely vintage mix) on EVERY release. So while we've included both Parker's and Tanzer's most recent reviews of Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere, neither review is of this specific bottling. The Wine Advocate is describing the disgorgement of September 2010, Tanzer of July 2011. Today's Brut Premiere is still fresher, with a disgorgement date of January 2012.

Straw-golden in color with fine, small bubbles. Gorgeous, precise aromas of apricot, ripe apple, orchard pit, mineral and piercing. Rich and racy on the attack, with sharp, rich flavors of citrus and pear, braced by top-pedigree limestone minerality. Almost two years after bottling, this brilliant Brut Premiere is only now coming into its own, marrying unusually plush concentration with superb length and persistence.



Tasting Notes

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvée
"Straw-golden in color with fine, small bubbles. Gorgeous, precise aromas of apricot, ripe apple, orchard pit, mineral and piercing. Rich and racy on the attack, with sharp, rich flavors of citrus and pear, braced by top-pedigree limestone minerality. Almost two years after bottling, this brilliant Brut Premiere is only now coming into its own, marrying unusually plush concentration with superb length and persistence."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

"The NV Brut Premiere Cuvée is exceptionally polished and refined from the very first taste. Lemon, grapefruit, green pears and flowers are some of the many notes that are woven together in this classy, totally polished wine. The two-plus years of bottle age post-disgorgement are a great example of how first-class NV Champagnes can develop beautifully in bottle, something I have seen time and again with Bruno Paillard's wines. Hints of hazelnut, almond, crushed rocks and pastry add elements of complexity, yet the wine retains its classic sense of energy and vibrancy. This is a great showing. The Brut Premiere Cuvée is 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 22% Pinot Meunier. Disgorgement date: September 2010. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2017."
92 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

"Pale gold. Expressive, precise aromas of nectarine, pear skin and chalky minerals. Racy and focused on the palate, displaying steely citrus and orchard fruit flavors underscored by zesty minerality. Concentrated but silky and brisk, with strong finishing cut and excellent length."
91 points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

 

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