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Bruno Paillard releases 2004 vintage and praises family-owned Champagne houses

Published:  04 October, 2013

Champagne Bruno Paillard may be one of the last houses to release its 2004 vintage but said it was in keeping with its trademark style of extra ageing and maturity.

Both its Assemblage 2004 (RRP £70) and Blanc de Blancs 2004 (RRP £72) will be available exclusively to independents and selected high end restaurants through Bibendum, its UK importer.

Bruno Paillard, who is one of a select few who is the founder, owner and winemaker with a Champagne to his name, said 2004 was a "remarkable vintage" after a "near-perfect" growing season. He said he remained fiercely proud that Champagne Bruno Paillard was still a 100% family owned Champagne house. He has made his daughter, Alice, chief executive (pictured with Bruno) so that she can carry on the house for the next generation.

"Champagne is at its best when a family is involved," stressed Paillard adding he was "free" and not a "slave" to any business.
The Assemblage is made from grapes from nine villages and is 52% Pinot Noir and 48% Chardonnay. Paillard, though, said he was more interested in where the grapes were grown rather than their actual variety.

Speaking at a press event in London yesterday, Paillard said he hoped Champagne could go back to being considered a "great wine" and not just a mass distribution product.

He estimated Champagne Pailllard was between the 25th to 30th largest Champagne house, but one of the top five independents. It produces between 450,000 to 500,000 bottles a year.

Restaurateurs, he added, liked its natural Champagne style with its advanced minerality and acidity that work so well with food. There were not many houses that can claim to be listed in 420 Michelin restaurants around the world, he added.

The UK accounts for 10% of its business along with Italy and France. It is so looking to gain distribution in the US by going direct state by state. It is now in six states including New York, California, Illinois, Nevada and Washington State.

The UK market needs to treated carefully, said Francois Colas, key account manager who looks after the UK. Considering its size it also worked closely with Bibendum to ensure it was going in to the right outlets.

He said it was not quite at the level to have its own office in the UK but would soon have someone here all the time.

Colas said the Champagne market in the UK was polarised between London where people appeared to be spending again and the "suburbs" where it was a harder market.

Paillard said the house had started harvesting its grapes for the 2013 vintage on September 30. He expected picking to continue until October 10, the latest, he said, since 1991. Yields he said would be down for Chardonnay but up for Pinot Noir.