Bruno Paillard’s family lineage of brokers and growers in the two Grand Cru villages of Bouzy and Verzenay dates back to 1704. Following in their footsteps, Bruno began as a broker in 1975, and acquired a deep and extensive knowledge of the region and its wines. In 1981, at the age of 27, he started his own Champagne house – the first new maison in nearly a century. After renting a cellar for three years and purchasing carefully selected grapes from independent growers, Bruno released his first Champagnes. He then built his own cellar, allowing him total control over temperature, lighting and humidity. In 1990 Bruno built his current winery, and in 1994 began purchasing vineyards. He now has 62 acres, almost half of which are Grand Cru. The fruit from these vineyards cover 1/3 of his production needs and are farmed organically and sustainably – a rigorous and delicate job given that his 62 acres are subdivided into 40 different parcels. Bruno sources the remaining fruit from long-term contracts with high-quality, independent growers. The grapes are hand-harvested and only juice from the first press is used. Each cru is vinified separately, minimal dosage is added (8-9 grams of sugar per liter) and aging is driven not by AOC requirements but by Bruno’s precise and demanding requirements for quality. Bruno produces a mere 45,000 cases per year. From the Brut Premiere Cuvee to the N.P.U. (Non Plus Ultra), each cru shares a hallmark – a certain finesse and wonderful tension between fruit and acidity. All Bruno Paillard bottles carry the disgorgement date on the back label, a quality step pioneered by Paillard. After disgorgement, the bottles rest in the cellar for at least three months before they are labeled and shipped.
|(50% Chardonnay/50% Pinot Noir). Made only in exceptional vintages, the grapes selected for N.P.U. (Nec Plus Ultra) are hand-picked from five Grand Cru villages rated 100% on the echelle de cru: Cramant, Chouilly, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Verzenay and Bouzy. The essential difference between N.P.U. and Bruno’s other wines, is that the individual crus are fermented in small oak barrels and aged for an additional nine months. The best 22 barriques (11 of Chardonnay, 11 of Pinot Noir) were then selected and blended, and the wine was left to mature on it lees for 12 years. After three years of aging in bottle, the wine was released 15 years after harvest. Aging in oak lends a complexity and slightly oaky hint that connoisseurs will recognize as the hallmark of the great Champagnes of the past.