When it comes to a wine to celebrate a special occasion, little comes close to Champagne. For me, however, Champagne doesn’t have to be simply reserved for times when a celebration is on the cards. If money was no object, I’d be drinking Champagne (by which I, of course, mean sparkling wines from the region of Champagne, France) every day.
And when the Champagnes are of this ilk, it’s not hard to see why.
Bruno Paillard started his maison in 1981 at the age of 27, at a time when no new Champagne houses had sprung up in close to a century. He started making wine with fruit purchased from other vineyards, however in 1994 bought his first vineyard and now has close to 32 hectares of vineyards, including 12 grand crus. These grapes contribute around 50% of the maison’s total production, the remainder coming from the same vineyards he originally purchased fruit from.
What I like most about these wines are that they are simply not found everywhere, yet provide remarkable value. Indeed, this NV Champagne can be found with change from $100 AUD – and when compared with similar priced wines from larger, more commercial Champagne houses, this wine far surpasses them for quality.
The NV Premiere Cuvée is a composition of more than 30 base wines comprising 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 22% Pinot Meunier. 20% of the wine underwent primary fermentation in barrel. The final blend could include base wines from up to 25 vintages, giving the final blend extraordinary depth.
The wine spends 3 years on lees, then a further 5 – 18 months maturing post-disgorgement. Dosage under 6g/L puts the wine in the ‘Extra Brut’ category of Champagne. Essentially, consider it pretty dry. They call it a ‘pure, authentic Champagne’ and it’s hard to argue.
Pale lemon in colour with a fine, persistent bead – this is why I love Champagne so much, the bubbles are fine and dance along your palate. So many new world sparkling wines, especially at the lower end of the market, drink much like a sparkling mineral water – definitely not the case here.
Medium intensity aromas – green apples and pears, citrus and lemon zest, some florals, and then all the leesy goodness of brioche and pastry. Flavours leap out of the glass and onto your palate – those citrus hits again with lemon juice, lime zest, unripe peach and finally some toasty brioche. Medium bodied with high acidity, balanced alcohol and a long, persistent finish. Balanced is the best word to describe this wine, it doesn’t really put a foot wrong.
I always try to encourage people to stray away from the major Champagne houses when trying to find an interesting wine. As much as I enjoy Möet and Verve, I enjoy more finding smaller houses that just do what they do without the fanfare and marketing budget of the larger players – and do it equally well. This wine does exactly that and more. A very, very good Champagne.