The Champagne region centered around Reims, France is 318 villages of which only 17 villages are Grand Crus (highest quality). Champagne houses (maisons) in these villages are small, family-owned and operated. Also known as “Grower (produced) Champagnes”, these small estates own the vineyards unlike large maisons (i.e. Moet Chandon, Veuve Clicquot) who buy grapes from many growers. Grower Champagnes are becoming popular because they offer better value by avoiding mass marketing expenses of large champagne houses. But Grower Champagnes represent a small segment of the market with only 30% market share.
I visited Maison Pierre Paillard, a grower champagne house in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy outside Reims. We were greeted by Antoine Paillard (8th family generation), who with his brother and father manage all winery operations including viticulture, wine-making, sales and distribution. The winery produces 90,000 bottles which pales in comparison to major champagne houses such as Mumm whose volume is 5 million bottles. Maison Paillard owns 28 acres of vineyards in Bouzy which sources all grapes for its wines. It practices organic principles and uses no chemicals in their vineyards.
Antoine, the winemaker and owner, quoted “Tension, Elegance and Freshness” as the hallmarks of his wines. Harvest is mid-September with picking by hand. Wines undergo primary fermentation of 10-12 days, then sit 6-8 months before blending and bottling in July. Non-vintage wine is aged 3-4 years and vintage wine is aged 10 years before release. A tour of his underground chalk cellars showed approximately 450,000 bottles in various stages of aging.
PIERRE PAILLARD Bouzy Rouge 2012
Bouzy Rouge is the ONLY still wine produced in Champagne region – 100,000 bottles of still wine is produced versus 308 million bottles of Champagne!
100% Pinot Noir, leaner style Pinot with bright acidity and freshness, 12% ALC.
Limited production and a small amount is exported.
PIERRE PAILLARD champagnes(from left to right
Blanc de Noirs NV – 100% Pinot Noir from Les Maillerettes vineyard. $49
“Light golden color with sweet yeast, red fruit and tiny bubbles. On the palate it is light-bodied with a delicate mousse and approaches off-dry with a lovely strawberry, citrus and mineral flavors. Long finish. Aged 3 years. 100% Pinot Noir sourced from single 0.8 acre lot planted in 1970”
Brut NV – blend 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. $39
“Very pale golden color with yeast, apple, wet stone aromas and plenty of pin prick sized bubbles. On the palate it shows a delicate mousse with apple, citrus, and mineral flavors. It’s lean and crisp. Medium-long finish.”
Blanc de Blancs NV – 100% Chardonnay from Mottelettes vineyard. $49
“Very pale color with very yeasty citrus, and stone fruit aromas. On the palate it shows a creamy delicate mousse and subtle apricot, citrus, and mineral flavors. Very persistent. Long finish.”
Millesime 2004 – 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay
“The nose of the 2004 shows vibrant red fruits, clotted cream, pastry notes and hazelnuts. The palate has a ton of minerality with lush cream notes and light red apple flavors coming together with lemon zest on the finish. For this Champagne, fire up the grill and try a grilled rack of lamb.” D&M Tasting notes
Cheers, Bob the WineGuy
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