Apart from the fact that they are both protected by Geographical Indication and that they are alcoholic, there’s nothing else really, that connects whisky and Champagne. They are originated from different countries and one is made using grain, while the other from grapes. However, like a brilliant dram, it is hard to resist an exquisite flute of bubbly from a renowned Champagne house. It is with this mentality that we accepted an invitation from Vinum Wines to experience the 2016 releases from Bruno Paillard (BP).
Bruno Paillard is a relatively young Champagne house, as the owner started his own estate not too long ago in 1981. He comes from a family of brokers and growers, dating back to 1704. Paillard himself was a broker for six years before starting his own champagne estate.
Like many boutique producers, BP kept the production small, but ensured that every single bottle retains the notes and character synonymous with the Champagne house.
They select the best possible grapes from their vineyards, which is of course, expected. This Champagne house also uses only the juices from the first press only – the first 50cl from every kilo of grapes. Naturally, first-pressed juices gives the most pronounced flavours and notes, compared to the produce from subsequent presses.
Each cru, or batch, is vinified separately, so that BP can blend with greater precision. What’s also interesting is that BP always adds a significant amount of reserve wines for their multi-vintage Champagnes. This gives “consistency to the house style”, as described on its website. We were also told that this is also seldom practiced when it comes to non-vintage brut.
And similar to how whiskies get better with age (at least, the majority of the time), Champagnes generally get more complex when they are aged longer prior to disgorgement. BP prides itself as a Champagne house that ages its Champagnes longer than the required time.
This is generally how it works: after blending, yeast is added into the bottle for its second fermentation. The bottle is sealed with a temporary cork. Fermentation happens during the first month and CO2 is produced. As the gas has nowhere to escape, it dissolves into the wine – this is what makes the Champagne bubbly. After a few weeks, the yeast dies and with this, releases aromas into the wine, adding to the complexity of the final product.
BP Champagnes are aged from three years for Première Cuvée up to eight to ten years for N.P.U. – “NEC Plus Ultra”, or in essence, their top quality bottlings. NPUs have seven characteristics:
- Produced in Great Vintages
- Produced from Grand Cru grapes
- Produced from first pressings only
- Fermented in small oak barriques for at least nine months
- Has a minimum of 10 years maturation on lees into its bottle
- Disgorged as Extra Brut
- They are returned to the cellar for a significant period of rest after disgorgement.
Speaking of which, we got to taste the NEC Plus Ultra 1999 and the NEC Plus Ultra 2003.
The former was paired with the Adour Salmon (beautifully done two ways) at Les Amis. The NEC Plus Ultra is fruit forward, particularly, pears and apples. It is accented by a creamy nuttiness, with an underlying tone of minerality that BP Champagnes are known for. This brought out the sweet and rich flavours of the salmon, especially the portion that was prepared tataki style.
The NEC Plus Ultra 2003 has a bolder and more intense character. It has a scent of ripen berries, tropical fruits as well as almonds and cashews. Despite the rich notes, it still possesses minerality and a fresh palate. This is why, this Champagne is paired with the Carpathian Pork Loin, to balance the heavier flavours of this red meat. Unfortunately, the NEC Plus Ultra 2003 won’t be available in Singapore any time soon.
We also sampled the flagship Rose Premier Cuvee as well as the Assemblage 2004 (48% Chardonnay 52% Pinot Noir) and Assemblage 2008 (42% Chardonnay 42% Pinot Noir and 16% Pinot Meunier).
More information on Bruno Paillard Champagne can be found via their website, www.champagnebrunopaillard.com.
And, they are available in Singapore via www.ddwines.com.sg