Bruno Paillard Vintage Champagnes
We tried 5 different champagnes in the Bruno Paillard masterclass held at the just opened Bluebird Wine shop. I’ve blogged previously about their non-vintage champagnes, now it’s the turn of the vintage champagnes to go through the wringer.
The house only releases vintage champagnes in what they consider exceptional years, of which there are two labels. The first one was the Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage 1999. All the Assemblages spend 9 years on the lees before disgorgement and all the grapes come from a single vintage only. Another unique characteristic of the Assemblage is the label. Each vintage has an individually designed label by a modern artist. The house picks two words to describe the champagne and then asks the artist to create a label that reflects the words. The French artist Didier Paquignon was asked to do the ’99 label. The two words picked to describe the ’99 were tumultuous and warm.
This champagne was certainly a bigger and fuller bodied champagne then the previous NV examples. It was a rich yellow in colour with a complex nose of biscuit, brioche, and butter with underlying fruit aromas of figs and apricots all rolling around together in the glass. I suppose you could say it was a bit tumultuous with various aromas vying for attention. On the palate it followed through with toast, butter, cream, and the full rich flavours of ripe apricots and a figgy caramel note with a lingering finish. The bubbles were fine and delicate.
The last was the Bruno Paillard Nec Plus Ultra 1995. The origins of this champagne came about because of two British journalists who asked Bruno why didn’t he produce a single cuvee? And so the idea for the N.P.U was born. So far there have only been 2 NPU, the ’90 and the ’95 vintages. There are very strict criteria and only 9,000 bottles are produced. All the grapes must come from grand cru vineyards and must be from truly outstanding vintages. The grapes are pressed once before being put into used 100% small oak barrels for 9 months for their first fermentation. The wine then rested on on its less for 10 years before disgorgement and then had a very low dosage of 4gr/ltr. This champagne can technically qualify as an ultra brut because the sugar level is so low. After disgorgement it spent another 15-18 months in the cellar before it was released.
I was looking forward to this champagne and I was not disappointed. It was a beautiful starbright golden yellow with tiny but not persistent bubbles. The champagne was served in wine glasses which at first confused me but once I stuck my nose into the glass, I could see why they had chosen a wine glass instead of a flute. It had an extremely perfumed nose with tertiary aromas abounding. A slightly reductive nose, brioche, spice, ginger, hazelnuts and after a bit of time, aromas of eau de vie – marvelous! Very complex mouthfeel and tastes as well. It was a heady mix of oak, spice, brioche, and a diverse nuttiness followed by a hint of fruitness, candy apple and toffee being the predominate flavours I picked out. A great example of a vintage champagne. My only complaint was that the bubbles didn’t hang around for long. It could have been because we were drinking out of wine glasses instead of flutes but nonetheless, a fine example of vintage champagne.
Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage (£52 retail)
Bruno Paillard NPU (£120 retail)