Regular readers of these pages will know my liking for the Champagnes made by Maison Bruno Paillard. This time it’s about vintage Champagne and the new release of Assemblage 2009.
This Champagne is made exclusively from the first pressings of the grapes, ensuring the best quality. These came from ten of the best terroirs in the heart of Champagne, such as Grand Cru Oger and Mesnil for Chardonnay and Mailly for the Pinot Noir. The glorious 2009 summer was particularly excellent for ripening Mailly’s Grand Cru Pinot Noir. It turned out to be the warmest summer in Champagne since 2003.
Assemblage in 2009 is an equal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, of which 20% was barrel fermented. Pinot Meunier, which featured in the 2008 vintage, has been excluded this time. The cuvée slept for ten years in Maison Paillard’s cellars, seven years of which were on the lees, with disgorgement in September 2017. Hence this is a wine that’s mature and ready to drink, though will doubtless continue to age well if kept. As is usual with the house style, the dosage is low. So with only 5g/l of residual sugar, this is Extra-Brut.
Nevertheless, the ripeness of the grapes combined with bottle ageing and the influence of barrel fermentation means that the acidity is in perfect balance with the low sugar, meaning no overt aggression on the palate.
A delicate woven texture and precision, alongside persistent vivacity, are all hallmarks of this wine. I found it surprisingly delicate and subtle, with complex notes of ginger spice and candied pear and lemon with an underlying mineral streak. There’s no overt wood influence despite the proportion of barrel fermentation. Instead, a seamless and stylish blend with just a little brioche and biscuit showing before a long hazelnut and almond finish. It’s a wine for food.
Match that delicacy with food that shows a similar quality – Lobster and oysters are classic. I tried it with super-fresh fillets of sea trout, oven-baked and garnished with lemon, parsley and almonds – an ideal combination. As an aside, I used large red wine glasses for this wine rather than traditional Champagne flutes, which helped an appreciation of the aromas and flavours opening up in the glass.
Since the first vintage of Assemblage in 1981, a different artist designs the label each year, according to a theme that reflects the characteristics of the year. For this 2009, the Maison features Swedish artist Anna-Lisa Unkuri to illustrate “Invitation au Voyage”. And indeed, this Champagne is some trip.
Hedonism Wines, £68.80
Champagne Bruno Paillard
Avenue de Champagne