On the Trail

Small Allocations of Pierre Paillard Champagne

Gary Westby

Many readers of these pages have met Antoine and Quentin Paillard, the two young men at the helm of Champagne Pierre Paillard, one of our most progressive and innovative growers at our big Champagne tent events. I met Quentin first, and I am ashamed to say that I wasn’t looking forward to the meeting. At the time, we already had two very good producers on the Mountain of Reims, and I thought that the headache of differentiating the Pierre Paillard estate grown Champagnes from the negociant house of Bruno Paillard would not be worth the trouble. How good could the wines be anyway? They are in Bouzy, one of the best known villages, I am there all the time, and I hadn’t even heard of them! How wrong could I be!

The Paillard family is blessed with twenty-seven acres, entirely in the Grand Cru of Bouzy. They make their wine entirely from this estate, and only replant with their own massal selections. They are in the process of getting a certification for organic viticulture, and have not used agrochemicals for many years now. This intense focus on the vineyards, and the incredible terroir of Bouzy adds up to some of the best grower Champagne that we can offer. Bouzy is a perfect south facing terroir on the Mountain of Reims, and is blessed with very chalky soil. It is famous for making the red wine that goes into the best rose from the big houses, and for blanc de noir juice for prestige cuvees. The Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay and 1/3 older reserve wines. This is masculine, powerful Champagne in the style of a producer like Bollinger, but without any oak. It has great dark cherry Pinot savor and fine chalky length from great quality Chardonnay. 

We will only receive five cases each if their two single vineyard Champagnes, so don't read this post for too long before deciding whether you'd like some. In the past, these were sold as non-vintage with their “Acte 1” label, but from now on they will be labeled by vineyard site and released as vintage. The 2010 Pierre Paillard "Les Maillerettes" Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne is one of the most serious, concentrated grower Champagnes that we carry. Don’t buy this for a party toast, but do buy it for enjoying with your best salmon recipe. It's loaded with mysterious Pinot complexity and has a strict, cuttingly dry, chalky finish. It is from a forty-seven year old plot of less than half an acre. From a fifty-six year old parcel of Chardonnay, the 2010 Pierre Paillard "Les Mottelettes" Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne is equally beguiling. Like its Pinot Noir sister, this is best enjoyed with food, and makes a great partner to Japanese cuisine. The wine has an understated flowery aroma and flavor, as well as subtle brioche character.

Don’t pass this producer by like I almost did. They are one of the greats in our portfolio!

-Gary Westby