Interview with Alice Paillard of Bruno Paillard

Nov 22, 2017

An Interview with Alice Paillard of Champagne Bruno Paillard

In 1981, Bruno Paillard founded the first new Champagne House in almost a century. 35 years later, the company continues realize the vision set forth by its founder. Alice Paillard joined her father in this endeavor in 2007, and now co-manages the firm. We spoke to Alice in December to get an inside look at Maison Bruno Paillard. 

Q: What inspired you to join Maison Bruno Paillard?

It started with my great attachment to the region, to Champagne. My family is very deeply rooted here. I felt it was extremely important for me to travel as soon as I could, and explore different places and cultures…because I needed these experiences to realize that I belonged in Champagne ! Then of course the notion of inspiration is a dynamic one : Maison Bruno Paillard has accomplished so much already, and yet it still has such a wonderful path to travel in the future, so the project itself is very fullfilling and continues to inspire me.

Q: Walk us through Maison Bruno Paillard’s connection to art, and to the relationship between this connection and your winemaking philosophy.  

It begins with a question that we rarely consider: when we look at a bottle of Champagne, what do we see written on it ? It is not an invented name of an estate. It is always the name of a person. Sometimes a name that became a brand, most of the time the name of someone who died 2 or 3 centuries ago : but always the name of a person. It is interesting to consider why: because a fine Champagne is above all an act of creation. For this : yes, you need the best terroirs, the best grapes. But at the genesis of a Champagne, before all of this, one needs a vision of what one wishes to create.  In that regard, vinifying in Champagne is an act of creation. In our case, this vision is about creating wines which must express the elegance and tension of our northern terroir of Champagne.

It was thus a natural extension of this thought process that led my father to decide to complement Bruno Paillard labels with artistic illustrations, thanks to the talents of various painters, to characterize the unique creations inside the bottles of our vintage Champagnes : wines which, by definition, change style with each vintage.

Q: Since 1994, you have developed your own vineyards to the point where over half your fruit comes from your 12 grand crus. How has this development influenced your wines?

And it goes on step by step…to the point that we now source ⅔ of our grapes from these vineyards. Our way of working our own vineyards is inspired by the same vision discussed above; for instance, our method of ploughing the ground encourages a particular verticality of the rooting system into the chalk to extract minerality. As such the style was not changed, but clearly enhanced, and continues to be more and more.

Q: Your House has been a scion of innovation within the world of Champagne, as exemplified by your revolutionary facility and your pioneering display of disgorgement dates. In what areas might we see Maison Bruno Paillard innovate next?

To us, being innovative simply is being true to the founders of Champagne. Those who, in the early days of Champagne under king Louis the XVth, looked for solutions to create a bottle strong enough to resist the pressure of Champagne, to ensure second fermentation would happen consistently, to devise a method of disgorgement…

The key to our innovation lies in our subscription to the following mandate : we never do things just because « they were always done this way ». This way of thinking has led us to innovation in very different arenas. Most of our recent innovations have happened in the vineyard, with simple advances such as creating the appropriate tool to work the ground in the method we want.

Q: How is the 2016 vintage looking for Maison Bruno Paillard?

So, a bit too early to say… But it is certain we have a very good base to work with in the cellar for next spring !

Q: To finish up, give us a couple of your favorite Champagne Bruno Paillard pairings.

The go to, simple and pure pairings I would suggest would be a plate of sushi with the Première Cuvée, a plate of cheese with the Rosé Première Cuvée, a few oysters with Blanc de Blancs de Grand Cru and for N.P.U. – Nec Plus Ultra…I would suggest nothing! It is a wonderful after dinner wine, which should be paired simply with great company and the right music !


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