Ahh Champagne. I have been known to say that I could happily drink it every day with no trouble at all. In typical British understatement: I’m quite fond of Champagne. So it was a great treat to go on a trip to the region with my friends at Bibendum to visit Bruno Paillard.
Not only were we given the royal treatment at the winery, but after the tour and the very interesting tasting (more on that in a minute), we were then whisked off (some of us in Bruno’s swanky French auto) to his home where his good friend prepared a decadent 9-course lunch, each course paired with a different Bruno Paillard Champagne – my kinda day! Oh and did I mention that his good friend is only one of the world’s most renowned chefs – Joel Robuchon? Not a bad way to spend a Monday afternoon.
Have you heard of Bruno Paillard Champagne before? If not, keep a look out for it and give it a try if you have the opportunity, it’s excellent. Bruno has several really interesting philosophies about Champagne which he shared with us during the day. Firstly though, a bit of background…
In a region where most Champagne houses have centuries of history making bubbly, Maison Bruno Paillard is one of the relative newcomers. The house was founded in 1981 when Bruno was just 27 years old. They currently produce just under 500,000 bottles a year of which about 75% is exported to 42 countries around the world.
Two things set Bruno apart. Firstly, in referring to the house style he prefers the more accurate term of ‘multi-vintage’ instead of ‘non-vintage’ so commonly used in Champagne. This is because the non-vintage Champagne at Maison BP actually comes from a solera system (exactly like those used in making Sherry) and every bottle will have wine from 1985 and every vintage since. Knowing this, it does seem that ‘multi-vintage’ is perhaps a more accurate description.
The second thing Bruno does that many of his Champenoise cohorts do not, he puts the date of disgorgement on every bottle. Just to refresh our memories on what exactly disgorgement is: it’s the process of removing the dead yeast cells that were produced during second fermentation in the bottle and have collected in the neck of the upside-down bottles (after a process called riddling). This sediment must be removed (or disgorged), the bottle topped up with reserve wine before the cork, cage and capsules are applied.
So why put the disgorgement date on every single bottle? Simply so we can see how the wine evolves. Bruno does a much better job at explaining this than I do, as you’ll see in the video below. It’s a very interesting concept and in fact, there are a few restaurants that list a full page of the same Bruno Paillard ‘multi-vintage’ Champagne, with different dates of disgorgement. Bruno is very proud of the fact that his Champagne is listed in 422 Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.
And speaking of Michelin stars, Joel Robuchon knows a thing or two about those! In the beautiful setting of Mr & Mrs Paillard’s home, we enjoyed a meal to remember! Ranging from a soft cooked hen’s egg with caviar and smoked salmon to a morel cappuccino with parsley (courses 2 and 4), but instead of reading about it, watch the video and see for yourself!
There’s always time for wine!
Tara – Wine Passionista