During the Paris Wine Expo 2024 Bruno Paillard Champagne and in particular Benoit Ferré held a particularly interesting masterclass dedicated to the importance of disgorgement in the evolution of classic method sparkling wine. From my point of view, there are two strands that can be followed to drink truly enjoyable wines of this type: sparkling wines with a relatively short period of rest on the lees (3-5 years) and a long period of bottle ageing after disgorging (4-6 years or more in exceptional cases) and sparkling wines with a very long period of rest on the lees (7-12 years) and a relatively short period of bottle ageing after disgorging (1-2 years). This is why appointments such as this one organised by Bruno Paillard Champagne are invaluable for understanding how the same wine changes and, above all, getting to know one's personal tastes.

How is AOP Champagne produced?

Champagne wine is a classic method sparkling wine and is therefore produced in 10 steps:

  1. processing of base wine;
  2. addition of dosage syrup;
  3. bottling;
  4. frothing;
  5. ageing on the lees;
  6. remuage;
  7. disgorgement;
  8. dosage;
  9. topping up;
  10. corking.

Since this is not an article dedicated to the production of the classic method, we will only delve into the 2 fundamental stages to better understand the value of the Masterclass proposed by Bruno Paillard Champagne.

The base wine

The grapes, which are perfectly healthy and ripe, must not be subjected to shocks during manual harvesting and are therefore transported, when quality is favoured, in small crates of a maximum of 20 kg. The bunches are then selected and the grapes are softly, progressively and quickly pressed using a membrane press. The must obtained is immediately cooled, collected in stainless steel vats and decanted by gravity to eliminate the coarsest particles. The must is then stabilised through a modest dose of sulphur dioxide to avoid both oxidation and a significant yeast load. At this point, the must undergoes a second racking into a vat in which the pied de cuveselection of yeasts that will trigger the first alcoholic fermentation and thus transform it into base wine. This will be stored at -3 °C to block oxidative processes until the blending process that tends to take place in the spring following the harvest. Blending can take place with base wines from the same vintage, thus giving rise to ano sparkling wine vintage (at least 85% of the grapes must come from the same vintage), or with base wines from different vintages, thus giving rise to a cuvée.

Disgorgement (or degorgement)

At this stage, the neck of the bottle - now upright - where the yeast is located is frozen. The bottles travel on a conveyor belt first with the cap pointing downwards while the icicle is being formed, then with the cap pointing upwards where the icicle is ejected due to the pressure inside the bottle following uncorking after removing the crown cap.

Champagne Degorgement

You can now subscribe to the newsletter or scroll down the page to continue reading the article!

Bruno Paillard Champagne: the origins of a myth

Bruno Paillard was born in Reims in 1953 and, after an initial career as a merchant, founded his maison at the age of 27 in 1981. Rich only in dreams and willpower, he took a small rented cellar and bought grapes, which he carefully selected to create the first Bruno Paillard Champagnes. In 1994, encouraged by positive reviews from critics, he decided to buy his first vineyards: 3 hectares of grand cru vines in Oger on the Côte des Blancs. This was the first step in the construction of the current vineyard consisting of 25 hectares, 12 of which are grand cru, for a total of 89 plots, 19 of which are cru in the Montagne de Reims, at the beginning of the Marne Valley, in the Côte des Blancs and Les Riceys. The estate's own vineyards account for about 50% of production, for the remainder it buys grapes from independent winemakers who have now become loyal collaborators in more than 30 villages. Today, Bruno Paillard is joined by his daughter Alice Paillard who signs these Champagnes with a distinctive taste.

Bruno paillard champagne

Bruno Paillard Champagne is responsible for a very important innovation for any sommelier and winelover: this house was the first to display the date of disgorgement on the label. This practice is fundamental in order to both fully understand the wine and to choose the right wine for the drinking occasion and/or one's personal taste.

You can now buy my book dedicated to aspiring sommeliers, sommeliers and winelovers or scroll down the page to continue reading the article!

Chiara Bassi book sommelier illustrated manual

Sommelier: the illustrated manual

All my notes on wine and food in one book. Maximum portability to study where you want, when you want... and even with your smartphone unloaded! To all aspiring sommeliers... drink the wolf! 😄🐺🍷🍀

Chiara Bassi

Bruno Paillard Champagne: the Masterclass in Paris

At the Paris Wine Expo 2024, this Maison organised a particularly interesting event to understand the evolution of wine and the value of disgorgement in this process. Intriguing was the addition of the two base wines of the same finished Champagne before the second fermentation in the bottle. 

Bruno paillard masterclass paris

Bruno Paillard Champagne #1: basic wine (steel only)

Vintage: s.a. (base wine made from a cuvée of grapes from 1985 to 2022, which is then blended with the wine of the vintage)

It is pale straw yellow with an antique gold hue. Nose with notes of white-fleshed fruit, especially pear. In the mouth it is very acidic, with an important structure.

Bruno paillard champagne inox

Bruno Paillard Champagne #2: base wine (wood)

Vintage: s.a. (base wine made from a cuvée of grapes from 1985 to 2022, which is then blended with the wine of the vintage)

It has a pale, bright straw yellow colour. The nose is broader than the previous one as it is enriched with notes of vanilla and orange peel. In the mouth it is rounder, but still with a great acidity that makes you salivate.

Bruno paillard champagne reserve fut

Bruno Paillard Champagne #3: Première Cuvée Extra Brut

Vintage: s.a. (base wine made from a cuvée of grapes from 1985 to 2022, which is then blended with the vintage wine) | Disgorgement: January 2024

It is pale straw yellow and brilliant with a numerous perlage that forms an abundant froth on pouring and then remains in a persistent crown. The nose is delicate and elegant with notes of white flowers and apple. In the mouth it enters crisp and lively, but with an already very fine bubble despite its young disgorgement, plenty of structure and acidity.

Bruno paillard champagne premier cuvee

Bruno Paillard Champagne #4: Première Cuvée Extra Brut ++

Vintage: s.a. (base wine made from a cuvée of grapes from 1985 to 2022, which is then blended with the vintage wine) | Disgorgement: May 2023

It is bright straw yellow with a very fine perlage, quite numerous and persistent. Delicate and elegant nose with notes of white peach, white chocolate and white flowers. In the mouth it is crisp, savoury, very acidic, structured and with a very long finish that makes you salivate. It can grow a lot in the bottle, but is already very nice.

Champagne bruno paillard

Bruno Paillard Champagne #5: Cuvée 72 ❤️

Vintage: s.a. (base wine made from a cuvée of grapes from 1985 to 2022, which is then blended with the wine of the vintage) | Disgorgement: May 2019

It is bright straw yellow with a fine, numerous and persistent perlage. The nose is delicate and very elegant with those pleasantly oxidised notes that I adore, butter and pastry. In the mouth it is consistent, crisp, soft, fresh, structured and with a long finish of candied pear.

Bruno paillard cuvee 72

Bruno Paillard Champagne #6: ❤️❤️+

Vintage: s.a. (base wine made from a cuvée of grapes from 1985 to 2022, which is then blended with the vintage wine) | Disgorgement: January 2017

It is a deep, bright straw yellow with golden hues. The nose is intense, broad and very elegant with those oxidised notes that I adore from the previous one, enriched with raw butter, caramelised hazelnut, jasmine, zabaglione and honey. In the mouth it is consistent, creamy, savoury, structured, with a nice acidic backbone and a very long finish that makes you salivate. 

Bruno paillard champagne Reims

Bruno Paillard Champagne: a preview tasting of the 2009 NPU ❤️❤️❤️+

Vintage: 2009 | Disgorgement: November 2022 | will be on the market from autumn 2024 with 12 years on the lees + more than 2 years in the bottle (almost 15 years wait)

It is a deep, brilliant straw yellow with a very fine, numerous and persistent perlage. The nose is intense, very elegant and delicate with an unexpected note reminiscent of hydrocarbons and blending with hints of white chocolate, vanilla, pralined hazelnut, dried wild flowers and lime honey. In the mouth it enters coherently, crisp and creamy at the same time, savoury, structured and with a very long finish. Thanks to its tra nde acid shoulder it has a long ageing potential after disgorgement.

Bruno paillard champagne npu 2009

For more information, please visit the website of Champagne Bruno Paillard.

Loading