In mid-October, I had the opportunity to meet with and visit Quentin Paillard of Champagne Pierre Paillard. Quentin and his brother Antoine manage the families’ vineyards totalling 11 hectares made up of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The Paillard family have been in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy for over 200 years and the brothers are 8th generation growers.
There are three areas of focus that Paillard spoke of during our time together:
- Vine Selection – this is ‘the foundation of the house’. Most of their vineyard land has now been propagated through ‘sélection massale’ from two main sites. These vines produce 30-40% less fruit but the aim is to have high quality, low yield fruit, “People thought my brother and I were crazy because we wanted less yield. We really want to be transparent in what our consumers are tasting in our wines.”
- Soil Management – Champagne Pierre Paillard ploughs their soils and has not used herbal or chemical herbicides for over 25 years.
- Winemaking – the goal is to maintain the identity of the grape varieties. Historically, the house practiced diligence in the use of oak so as to ‘not overshadow’ their champagnes. There has been a shift in that method and the champagnes crafted today are made without oak. The Paillards’ believe in long aging prior to release – most champagnes see between four and ten years of aging in cellar. Additionally, the majority of their champagne falls into the ‘Extra Brut’ category of 2 – 3 grams of sugar in their dosage. Vinification is done plot by plot and malolactic fermentation is never stopped. Champagne Pierre Paillard produce 85,000 bottles a year.
Champagne Pierre Paillard Tasting:
‘Les Parcelles’ XIII Bouzy Grand Cru Montagne De Reims Extra Brut NV – with 2013 as the base year for the champagne and comprised of 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay, this is a bright and alive wine. Full of fresh cranberry, red McIntosh apple and citrus notes, I enjoyed the complexity and finish of this champagne. 30€
‘Les Maillerettes’ Bouzy Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut 2013 – sourced from 50 year old Pinot Noir vines, this wine spends 5 years on its’ lees. The dosage is nicely balanced at 2.5 grams and has fantastic structure. I am quite a fan of Blanc de Noirs champagne a and this is a very good example. The colour is beautiful with flecks of gold – this is a rich and seductive champagne. 55€
‘La Grande Récolte’ Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut Millésime 2006 – one of the most delicious champagnes I have tasted. The bubbles are fine and delicate and the nose smells like the apex of a symphony – seriously. Tension and brightness and resolution all wrapped into one glorious sip. Great mineral depth and long-lasting finish. 60€
‘Les Terres Roses’ Bouzy Grand Cru XIV Rosé Extra Brut – delicate salmon pink in colour with persistent bubbles, this Rosé champagne is made predominately from the 2014 vintage. Crafted with 60% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir, 5% of still red wine is blended in. The nose is lifted and elegant with fresh field berries and mandarin orange flavours. €45