Bruno Paillard’s Yin and Yang

Champagne Bruno Paillard is a maison from Reims. The area around the unofficial capital of Champagne is traditionally a Pinot Noir region. And so there was a 1981 Blanc de Noirs as a vintage from the founding year of the house. Since then, Pinot Noir has played a major role at Bruno Paillard, but there has never been a pure Champagne made from red grapes. 42 years later, the house has now presented its first Blanc de Noirs as a Multi Vintage.

First, the basic facts about the new Blanc de Noirs: base vintage 2018 with 12.5 percent reserves from a “Réserve perpétuelle” created in 2015. Grapes exclusively from Grand Cru communes. Two-thirds from Verzenay, Verzy and Mailly in the northern Montagne de Reims and one-third from Bouzy in the southern Montagne de Reims. 24 percent of the base wines (exclusively from the first pressing) aged in new wood. The yeast ageing was just over three years. My bottle was disgorged in November 2022 and added 3 grams of dosage per litre. MV XB is what the Maison calls this category: Multi Vintage Extra Brut. All Champagnes in the entry-level segment fall under it, with the exception of Dosage Zéro.

The long shadow of the Blanc de Blancs

The long wait for a Blanc de Noirs from Champagne Bruno Paillard certainly has something to do with the fact that the founder of the same name was able to acquire excellent vineyards on the Côte des Blancs in 1994 and 2004. Since then, the house has gained a great reputation for pure Chardonnay Champagnes with its Blanc de Blancs Non-Millésimé, but especially with the Vintage. To underline this, Bruno’s daughter Alice, the current director of the house, held a Blanc-de-Blancs-masterclass at ProWein (we reported). The latest proof: the Blanc de Blancs 2013 from the house’s own vineyards in Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, which was presented last autumn. It is currently very precise and has an enormous freshness. On the nose, apple and lime, tangerines and orange peel, plus white almonds, roasted hazelnuts and a hint of brioche. On the palate, the aroma of white plums is added, with a slightly creamy texture, delicate perlage and very good length (94 p.).

Elegance of the North

It was therefore not to be expected that Alice Paillard would now present a Blanc de Noirs, as is currently fashionable. Like the just presented (and quite successful, more here) Blanc de Noirs Essentiell by Piper-Heidsieck. Fruity, opulent and sometimes also in combination with Pinot Meunier. The Blanc de Noirs from Champagne Bruno Paillard, on the other hand, should explicitly focus on the delicacy and elegance of the northern Grand Crus of Champagne on limestone soils. Verzenay and Verzy in particular, with their fresh, finesse-rich Pinot Noirs, are currently the focus of several classic Maisons. At Champagne Louis Roederer, Verzy forms the backbone of the Vintage Champagne. Both Crus flow together into the Prestige Cuvée Cristal. Champagne Bollinger recently presented the Blanc de Noirs PN VZ 16, in which Pinot Noirs from Verzenay dominate the blend. One of the reasons for this is that the vineyards, which are partly exposed to the north, create the conditions for balanced, racy champagnes even in hot vintages like 2018.

But how does the new Blanc de Noirs from Bruno Paillard present itself in the glass? Very delicate, with a hint of cherry, apricots, yellow roses, grapefruit and quince on the nose. Quite lean on the palate for a Blanc de Noirs, with a delicate saltiness and puristically dry. Perhaps one should wait a little longer until the Champagne dares to come out of its shell (93 p.). It is said that Champagne Bruno Paillard already has two Blanc de Noirs vintages maturing in the cellar: 2015 and 2016. We are curious. In any case, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay now form the equal Ying and Yang of Champagne Bruno Paillard.

Image rights:

Stefan Pegatzky / Time Tunnel Images

More on the topic and introductory information:

Stefan Pegatzky: Champagne: The 100 most important maisons, vintners and cooperatives. [only in German]

240 pages, numerous illustrations.

Wiesbaden: Tre Torri Verlag, 2001.

Awarded the German Cookbook Prize in Gold as the best wine book of the year 2021.

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