I was delighted to meet Bruno Paillard in Reims this summer. With his impressive height and trademark blazer, he had a real presence amongst the hordes attending this years European Champagne Ambassador Awards (I was runner up!). Bruno presented one of the awards and also provided champagne for the reception - Bruno Paillard NV Blanc de Blancs from clear glass magnums!
Transparent bottles are something to behold and seeing blanc (regular) champagne inside as opposed to rosé, is still something of a novelty. Bruno Paillard's NV Rosé and NV Blanc de Blancs are in transparent bottles which showcase the delicate colour of the wines, giving a sense of what to expect before the wine is tasted. The issue of light strike on champagne is not lost on Bruno - he is clearly aware and bottles in relative darkness, then ships these clear-bottle-cuvées wrapped in a protective cellulose sheet.
I recently had an opportunity to taste the latest cuvée from Bruno Paillard, the 2004 Blanc de Blancs. A regular dark green bottle holds this wine - no clear glass here - an indication, perhaps, of a more serious and age worthy cuvée. The label provides a different aesthetic from his NV wines and features the artwork of Chinese artist, Chen Jiang Hong. An abundant harvest, 2004 was notable for its high quality and quantity of fruit. Champagnes from 2004 seem to be significantly riper, softer and more generous than 2002, with excellent flavour concentration.
The wine was a pale, light gold colour with tight, slow moving bead. Made with grapes from several Cote des Blancs Grand Cru, the nose was delicate yet complex. Disgorged in 2014, the wine has seen an impressive 9 years of sur-lie ageing, followed by a year of post disgorgement 'rest' before release. Pineapple, citrus, fennel and sweet spice were enticing, though there were also aromas of sous bois, Pierre-fusil and crystallised fruit and nuts - a real delight which made me eager to taste. The mousse was fine, the mouthfeel very silky, whilst the flavour profile was along the same lines as the nose, though with more toast, mineral feel and slightly bitter finish.
Although a relatively young Champagne House, Bruno Paillard is gaining a reputation for producing high quality, low dosage champagnes of delicacy and finesse. This vintage Blanc de Blancs exemplifies that style and seems best suited to lobster, caviar or romance!
Available in the UK from Bibendum RRP £60-65