Bruno Paillard was founded in Reims in 1981 by Bruno Paillard, who had worked as a Champagne broker before founding his own domaine. Paillard’s family has been growing grapes and selling Champagne in the region since the 18th century, so his leap into Champagne production was no great surprise. Paillard bought grapes from nearby growers for his first few vintages, then in 1994 began buying his own vineyards. Today Paillard owns 75 acres, about 30 of which are in Grand Cru appellations. His estate vineyards supply about a third of the grapes needed for the annual production of 500,000 bottles. The estate makes vintage and non-vintage Champagne and receives highly complimentary reviews for its wines. Wine Advocate has written that “Bruno Paillard’s Champagnes stand out for their elegance and total finesse. Although a relatively new house by Champagne’s standards, Paillard’s wines have a timeless classicism about them that is highly appealing.”
Champagne is a small, beautiful wine growing region northeast of Paris whose famous name is misused a million times a day. As wine enthusiasts and all French people are well aware, only sparkling wines produced in Champagne from grapes grown in Champagne can be called Champagne. Sparkling wines produced anywhere else, including in other parts of France, must be called something besides Champagne. Champagne producers are justifiably protective of their wines and the prestige associated with true Champagne. Though the region was growing grapes and making wines in ancient times, it began specializing in sparkling wine in the 17th century, when a Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Pérignon formulated a set guidelines to improve the quality of the local sparkling wines. Despite legends to the contrary, Dom Pérignon did not “invent” sparkling wine, but his rules about aggressive pruning, small yields and multiple pressings of the grapes were widely adopted, and by the 18th and 19th centuries Champagne had become the wine of choice in fashionable courts and palaces throughout Europe. Today there are 75,000 acres of vineyards in Champagne growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne’s official appellation system classifies villages as Grand Cru or Premier Cru, though there are also many excellent Champagnes that simply carry the regional appellation. Along with well-known international Champagne houses there are numerous so-called “producer Champagnes,” meaning wines made by families who, usually for several or more generations, have worked their own vineyards and produced Champagne only from their own grapes.