Like many in the trade I was introduced to the wines of Paul Bara very early on. I instantly enjoyed their upfront, simple, fruity style. They became a benchmark for what I looked for in wines that are defined by Pinot Noir. I have, of course, since tasted thousands of other Pinot Noirs and the wines of Paul Bara drifted off into the list of many ‘good’ wines that I enjoy when I have the opportunity to crack a bottle.
This is totally unfair. The wines are fabulous. Every time I go back to them I ask myself; ‘Why don’t I have this in my cellar!?’ The wines have such a wonderful warmth to them with cherry notes, biscuit and blackcurrant. Every single one of their wines oozes drinkability so much so that I have never been tempted to hold on to their vintages (perhaps I am missing out!?).
Paul Antoine is the 7th generation of the family which dates back to 1833. They started producing Champagne in 1929 and were part of the local cooperative until 1965. They own 11 hectares, all in Bouzy (86% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay) split into 34 plots dotted around the town. The Chardonnay sits mainly on the flat, the Pinot Noir on the hill and mid point.
In the vineyards they use mostly organic fertilizers and pheramones, no herbisides or insecticides. In the cellar they choose to press with both traditional and new presses and use only the Cuvee. The Taille is sold. They have invested heavily in steel tanks as of 2015, creating a new room filled with gleaming inox! They are one of the few producers that I have seen that use underground ceramic tanks although not so much nowadays.
Their range starts with the cracking Brut Reserve. Current release is the 2010 base producing a warm fruity, cherry ladened front palate with a lovely playful red currant and white pepper mid palate. There are few BSAs that I can recommend as highly as this one.
Brut Grand Rose shows playful strawberry notes and a bright palate. There is good weight to the palate and it delivers a lovely lift with strong acidity.
The Millesime 2006, a 90/10 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend delivers the wonderful warmth and biscuit notes but with a bit more opulence on the palate. Good weight and a well balanced acidity. The wine is developing a fantastic edge of salinity.
As many will know, Paul Bara is part of the Special Club and their 2005, a 70/30 blend of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay shows a slightly stewed note on the nose. A touch nutty and a lovely sweet length to it like fine icing sugar. Classic notes of forest fruits and specifically blueberries. Yummy!
Their prestige cuvee, Comtesse Marie de France is a wonderfully understated masterpiece of Pinot Noir. A powerful nose lifts to deliver rich fruit but with so much elegance. The grapes are mostly taken from a single vineyard; Maillerettes.
They are in the early stages of a new cuvee: Annonciade, which will be the first wine to be made in oak. The first vintage will be 2004 to be released in late 2015, early 2016. It is in honour of his great, great, great grandmother who married a barrel maker. The wine spends six months in young oak. 1000-6000 bottles will be made of each vintage. The wine is as yet untasted.
Region: La Montagne de Reims
Contact: Chantale Bara and Paul Antoine
Cuvée De Prestige: Comtesse Marie de France
Year Founded: 1833
Bottles produced: 100000
Style: Fruity, warm,
Vinification: Uses both traditional and new press. Only cuvee. Only steel tank (except for their new cuvee: Annonciade). Tries to do single parcel vinification. No malolactic fermentation on any cuvees.
Viticulture: No herbicides or insecticides and mostly organic fertilizers.
Recent Tasting Notes from Paul Bara