Today’s Story: Champagne Paul Bara
Champagne Paul Bara is a small, family run Champagne house established in 1860 in the village of Bouzy in the Montagne de Reims wine region of France. Though initially the property consisted of a farm and a cellar with some vines, Paul Bara was the first of the family to sell Champagne under his name during the 1950s. In 1965, the family transformed a barn into their own press room and winery and set their sights on greater heights. 10 years later, in 1975, Paul Bara began exporting Champagne to the United States and was one of the first houses to do so. As he neared retirement, Paul’s daughter and sixth generation Chantale started helping to produce the wines and run the business before co-running the business in 1986 and later taking over. Since 2018, Chantale’s sister Evelyne Dauvergne began taking on more responsibilities as well.
Champagne Paul Bara consists of 11 hectares of all Grand Cru vineyards in Bouzy, with about 9.5 hectares planted to Pinot Noir and the remaining 1.5 planted to Chardonnay. The vines are rather low yielding and the family practices sustainable viticulture with a major focus on clean farming and biodiversity in the vineyards. All fruit is hand-harvested and hand-sorted, with winemaking in the cellar sticking to more traditional methods and only using first press juice. During aging, the wines rest in the impressive century-old chalk cellars dug by hand 11 meters below the surface of the earth. Total production is around 7,500 cases per year.
To learn more about Champagne Paul Bara and view pictures of the estate, check out their website here.
Today’s Wine: 2008 Bouzy Rouge Coteaux Champenois Grand Cru
100% Pinot Noir; 12.5% ABV
The 2008 Bouzy Rouge Coteaux Champenois Grand Cru is translucent pale to medium ruby in color. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, cranberry, black raspberry, olive, forest floor, underbrush, and crushed rock. Meanwhile, the palate displays notes of ripe sweet cherry, stemmy strawberry, rose, sous bois, light grilled herbs, mild peppery spice, stony mineral, and a hint of smoke. This is light-bodied with medium (+) acidity, light tannins, and a medium (+) finish.
Price: $55. This is certainly a fun wine, being a still Pinot Noir from a Champagne house known for their incredible quality and Grand Cru holdings, but I don’t think it has the complexities or depth to live up to the price. Nonetheless, it was an easy-drinking and tasty wine.