You Need To Try This is a running archive of all the awesome drinks and dishes we’ve come across over the course of our professional and private lives — or at least the ones that we have the presence of mind and patience to photograph before they get in our bellies.
Farmer Fizz. Champagne of Terroir. Artisinal Champagne. Récoltants-Manipulants. All terms to describe Grower Champagne. So – what is it? Well, it’s Champagne made from growers, évidemment. Nearly 90% of all vineyards in Champagne are owned by independent growers – about 19,000 of them – and almost 2000 of these growers make and sell their own wine. These Grower’s Champagnes make up approximately one fifth of all sales. The rest are controlled by the large négociants; the large houses own just 10% of the vineyard area of Champagne, but control approximately 97% of exports. Champagne is trés grande business, where brand oft rules over wine.
While it’s certainly not true that Grower Champagnes are intrinsically better, they are inherently characterful, singular and relevant Antoine Paillard is a youthful and confident 8th generation vine grower. He carries on the family tradition as winemaker, along with his brother Quentin and father Benoit. The Paillard family has been growing vine and making wine in Bouzy since 1768, and making wine under the Pierre Paillard name for four generations.
Situated in the heart of the Montagne de Reims, Bouzy is a renowned Grand Cru village for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Here they own all Grand Cru vineyards (22 parcels), 11HA in total and averaging 25 years of age, all exclusively cultivated on own roots, and without clones. Sustainability governs the winemaking; malolactic fermentation is not blocked and native ferments are encouraged. As Quentin put it, “We think that a great wine is built in the vineyards and that the winemaker is an artist who uses creativity to elaborate the most beautiful cuvées.”
The blends are key to the house’s unique style, rare because of their high percentage of Chardonnay in an area known primarily for Pinot Noir. Dozens of stainless steel tanks, wood vats, concrete tanks and clay eggs of varying shapes and sizes fill the tiny winery. As Antoine explains, they vinify each small plot separately, and then collectively decide what to blend and when, for each wine.
Les Parcelles is marked by the Roman XII on the label to indicate it was based on the 2012 vintage. This Extra Brut is an impressive 2.6 g/l dosage, keeping all tight and crisp. A 60/40 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend, this was disgorged 2016 December after four years on the lees. Highly impressive, with a gossamer meringue, fine cream, finer nut base. Succulent, but with a tight grip of chalky acidity, this is drinking beautifully now (that structure!) but will age gracefully in your cellar for a decade easy.
Champagne Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut 12 NV | Champagne, France | $57