Pierre Paillard champagne – the men, the legends

Pierre Paillard champagne

They’re on every good champagne menu I’ve seen so far. Yet, I had never tasted Pierre Paillard champagne in my life. Why? Well, there are usually many Paillards to choose from, and I don’t do well with making choices. But lucky me, a few weeks ago, Quentin Paillard, heir of the domain, came to The Hague for an elaborate tasting in wine shop Bouzy. Needless to say, I rushed my way over there to bring an end to my Pierre Paillard-less life.

Pierre Paillard – the domain

The Pierre Paillard domain is nestled in Bouzy, a Grand Cru village in the heart of the Champagne region. The family-owned estate has been producing champagnes for eight (!) generations, with vineyards located on the slopes of Montagne de Reims. What once started by the legend Pierre Paillard, is now continued by brothers and legends Quentin and Antoine. The Paillard family owns 11 hectares, of which 60% is Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. These include plots that are clay and sand-based (perfect for their coteaux wines and rosé) and plots that are just clay-based, which give their Chardonnay champagnes that elegant, flowery taste. The Paillard family is on the road to becoming 100% organic certified and uses traditional methods to produce each bottle, ensuring that the natural character of the grapes shines through.

Even though most of their vines are located around Bouzy, the brothers have recently explored other areas in the Montage de Reims, including Verzenay and Ludes. The first results will soon be on the market, which is very exciting!

From Bouzy to Bouzy

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in The Hague, the air was buzzing as Quentin Paillard, a tall and friendly-looking man, stepped onto the imaginary stage at Bouzy, a wine bar in The Hague. The connection between this place and his French hometown, Bouzy, had fostered a special bond between his family and the wine shop owners, who warmly announced his talk. As members of my champagne-tasting club, my friends and I eagerly awaited the tasting and the tales that were about to unfold. And, oh, we were in for a treat.

With every word he spoke, Quentin painted a vivid picture of the complexity of champagne production. He revealed the secrets hidden beneath the soil, telling us about its composition and how it influenced the grapes. We learned about the nuances of good and challenging vintages and how water shortage actually encourages vine roots to dig deeper, making them stronger and the grapes more tasteful. All combined, this is what makes Pierre Paillard champagne special, and, more important, tasty.

You win some, you lose some

Speaking with a lot of champagne makers through the years, I’ve noticed that most of them don’t seem to worry much about poor harvest years. Quentin Paillard was no exception in this regard. When he came to our table, I told him about my grape-picking endeavours with David Léclapart, and how the vintage of 2021 had been a complete disaster. That year, Chardonnay yields were close to zero, which was a much bigger problem for the Chardonnay-focused David. Quentin did share David’s opinion about good and bad harvest years: you win some, you lose some. He said: “Sometimes nature gives, sometimes it takes: all we can do is do a great job in the vines and in the cellar. The rest is out of our hands.” Can’t argue with that.

Pierre Paillard champagnes

We tasted eight different champagnes, from 2018 all the way back to 2002. Below, I’ll give you a short description, so you can make your pick the next time you see a long list of Pierre Paillard’s champagne on a menu and can’t choose, which has happened to me so many times before.

Les Parcelles, 2014

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
BouzyPinot Noir 70%
Chardonnay 30%
7 years in cellar,
disgorged January 2023
Extra brut7,5/10

Les Terres Roses, rosé, 2018

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
BouzyChardonnay 65%
Pinot Noir 35%
(of which 5% Bouzy red wine)
red fruits
Extra brut8/10

Les Maillerettes, 2017

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
BouzyPinot Noir 100%Give it a minuteExtra brut8/10

Les Mottelettes, 2017

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
BouzyChardonnay 100%Great development
in the glass
Extra brut7,5/10

Bouzy rouge – Les Mignottes, coteaux, 2018

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
Bouzy, Lieu Dit
Les Mignottes
Pinot Noir 100%Clay topsoil,
also used in
Les Terres Roses

La Grande Récolte, vintage, 2008

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
BouzyPinot Noir 55%
Chardonnay 45%
From private collection
Rich & toasty
Reminds me of Selosse
Extra brut8,5/10

La Grande Récolte, vintage, 2012

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
BouzyPinot Noir 55%
Chardonnay 45%
Even richer than
La Grande Récolte
Extra brut9/10

Oenothèque, vintage, 2002

LocationGrape varietiesSpicy detailDosageRating
BouzyPinot Noir 50%
Chardonnay 50%
Produced by
father Paillard
Highly aromatic
Extra brut9/10

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