Elitism is concerned with the quest for the very best life has to offer. That is all it concerns: quality, pure and simple. It is not to be confused with snobbery, where cost, perceived value or status are what is demanded. Snobs are awful people, they crow about how much they have spent on something or how many points some dreary reviewer, with no passion or love for their subject, has awarded it. Team Elitistreview totally reject snobbery – we are solely concerned with the best wine (food and ceramics, or anything else that takes our fancy!), be they £500 or 50p!
Having said this, I am an unemployed lunatic and so cannot really afford bottles at £500, although I have drunk and reviewed many that would retail for that price (and far, far more) thanks to the generosity of friends who are less insane and more work-capable than me. Therefore, it pleases the tits off me when I find something of the very highest quality at a price I can afford. Supreme quality can certainly be found at low price points. Moreover, Team Elitistreview know that quality exists at every level; one can have a bloody brilliant portion of fish and chips or a perfectly cooked piece of foie gras. Different price points, but still at the zenith of quality for what they are.
However, today we are concerned with the absolute best! Hooray for the absolute best! This wine has all the qualities of a gratuitously fine wine (complexity, style, personality, huge pleasure potential, age-worthiness, etc.), so I imagine you think I am about to review some unaffordable ‘unicorn’ wine that is far beyond the reach of most people’s wallets, that I only got to try because I know a bunch of loaded people in the wine trade.
Not a bit of it! This was purchased using the extremely limited power of my disability benefits, and it is so affordable once I had assessed it as better than sex (I am guessing a bit with this quality comment as I do not like sex, being damaged goods and everything – but do not worry, I am completely fine with that) I could afford another bottle plus one of its sister wines. The Wine Society were selling the Champagne Bouzy Grand Cru les Maillerettes Blanc des Noirs 2012 made by the grower Pierre Paillard for £49 a bottle – a good vintage of a Grand Cru lieux-dit of a speciality-style (in this case made entirely from Pinot Noir) from a highly regarded grower is very rarely that affordable.
However, it is completely brilliant to be a member of the Wine Society. If you visit this page that lists their Pierre Paillard wines you will see that they have lopped £9 off the price and it is now on sale (as is the ‘sister’ I referred to – Bouzy Grand Cru les Mottelettes Blanc des Blancs 2012 – this is made entirely from Chardonnay) for an un-tmesis-believable £40 a bottle! Most Grand Marques sell their basic non-vintage wines for about that price these days! I love recommending bargains, which this undoubtedly is; now let me tell you why it is one of the very best Champagnes I have ever devoured with excessive aesthetic delight!
Champagne Bouzy Grand Cru les Maillerettes Blanc des Noirs 2012, Pierre Paillard
Hold a glass of this up to bright, natural light and you will notice that it has a very slight pink hue – obviously because it was made entirely from red grapes. Should I deduct a point from the colour score? Ha ha! Only kidding! What sort of puffed up, self-aggrandising arse thinks they are such mighty judges of wine that they can objectively assign points as a measure of the quality of a wine’s colour? Arses, indeed. It has the slightest tinge of pink, so what?
The power displayed on the nose is staggering, it has a serious ability to punch you in the hooter. It does this in an extremely pleasing manner (I am not into S&M either). The weight and power is derived from an abundance of really high quality fruit that went into this wine. At Pierre Paillard they claim to keep their winemaking as simple and as non-interventionist as possible so that the quality of their fruit which they farm with meticulous care shows itself in the wine.
There are surprisingly dark fruits here as well as the more strawberry and raspberry aromas one might expect from a Pinot-based Champagne. Hints of blackberry and blackcurrant are intertwined with the powerful, delicious scents of red fruits.
If you have never drunk a really good Blanc des Noirs this next comment might repel you, but I assure you it is terribly pleasing when you sniff it: There is a distinct aroma of dark, bitter chocolate on the nose. In my experience this comes from Pinot Noir grown in top-quality vineyards. I once served a bottle of Bollinger 1985 (one of the last decent vintages of Bollinger Grande Année) to my lovely friend ‘Stinky’ Geoff and he said, “If you blind-folded someone and got them to smell this they would say it was cold cocoa!” Much the same thing is going on in this wine, but the chocolate smell is edgier, more bitter and nervier due to the higher quality and greater proportion of Pinot present.
All that power, the panoply of fruit aromas, the edgy chocolate notes and a richly intense limestone tang make this an astoundingly complex and intricate nose. There is so much detail there and it is all thanks to the high-quality fruit and the privileged vineyard site. There is no messing about with new oak for fermentation or anything like that – it is a wine that speaks with clarity and passion about its origins and cepage . God, it smells bloody fantastic, so a big mouthful is called for!
Wow, gorgeousness and gorgeousity in fizzy, liquid form! My senses are overwhelmed by the deeply involute, precise and utterly harmonious collection of tastes and textures in this wine. It has a gloriously fine mousse, it tickles and teases my palate! This is no harshly gassy fizzy pop, it is a refined and classy sparkler.
There is great power and energy to the palate. That powerful, bewitching fruit of the nose is here in abundance and shouts with life thanks to a brilliantly balanced acidity. The acid level seems quite high, as this is an Extra-Brut Champagne. However, I feel the balance is exquisite and such vivacity will only help the Champagne age for a long and ever more impressive life.
Even though it is powerful, impressive and so on, it is also a deliciously lovely drink. Each glass of this may have given my faculties much to ponder upon, but I just hugely relished drinking this. I felt alive, I felt happy, I felt that life is good. It gave me goose bumps as it pleasured me so intensely. The fine balance, the lively acidity and that lovely, lovely fruit just make you want to keep on drinking. This is why we keep looking for new fine wine experiences, in the hope we find something as intellectually pleasing and god-damned scrummy as this. It is pleasure unbounded!
The finish is extraordinarily long. It throbs with the powerful fruit and vivacious acidity that were so present on the entry and mid-palate, but also has an incredibly powerful limestone-derived quality that grips your palate. Swallow with great, great pleasure as, like I did with every mouthful of my half of the bottle, you will understand you have just experienced one of the absolute greatest mouthfuls of Champagne you will ever swallow in your life.
The Wine Society suggest you drink this before 2024, which is probably a sensible suggestion. However, if you have the power of supreme cellaring conditions I think you might well be fascinated by how long this continues to evolve, improve and slowly develop into a different experience. This is a gloriously wonderful wine, charged with dimension, energetically driven and infused with power.
This throbs with class, pulses with style and as the flavours linger on your palate and your neurones spark with unrestrained delight you think, “And this entity of total wonder cost how much?!?”.
I see no problem with keeping my second bottle until 2022 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Editor moving into my flat to become my hugely appreciated live-in carer. How hugely appreciated? Well, this bottle was opened for us both to enjoy for breakfast on the morning of his birthday a couple of days ago. Definitely hugely appreciated!
I must underline that this is one of the very best Champagnes I have had in my life. Obviously, I am not going to try anything as silly as ranking it, because down that pathway lies the rancid stupidity of attaching numbers to wine or quoting numbers attached to a wine you like to prove (ha ha ha!) that you have better taste in wine than someone else. Honestly, not many have pleased me more (and I am not going to mention which ones I think have, because they really might not have done), but none of those that may have done cost forty quid a bottle! Here is another link to the Wine Soc’s Paillard wines – click it and get buying!!
Oh bumholes, there is something I forgot to mention that I really loved about the wine! The palate had a savoury, slightly astringent character that was incredibly satisfying. That slight pink hue bought a few skin tannins with it!
A damn fine review if I may venture that opinion, sir! Oh – and greetings again from wherever the hell it is I am today. I thought it was supposed to be France, but I don’t think it is.
You know, a fact just struck me as a result of your post – the old échelle des crus was an early fore-runner of the Parker Points system! It was therefore rubbish. However, despite that, it’s funny how often wines from Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzenay and Verzy (not to mention the Cote des Blancs ones of course) keep coming up trumps. I’ve not tried this one though thanks to your suggestion it will be going straight on the next order.
And totally agree about that chocolate note observation. It gets more and more pronounced on ageing and can eventually dominate. I had an old work colleague back in the days when you could pick up mature champagnes for a song at auction (aaaah!), and he used to buy them by the shedload. Always a bit of a crapshoot, but he advised me of the trick whereby if you find yourself with an overwhelmingly chocolatey champagne, all you have to do is to back-blend it with a bottle of the youngest brut NV you can find and voila! – balance is restored!
Hope you are both bearing up, and sorry the gap between communications seems to be so long. All best wishes – Ian
I am sorry to say that the Curse of Elitistreview has struck this wine and it is all sold out! We must hope the Wine Society gets future vintages in. I wouldn’t know how to get the message to The Wine Soc’s buyers that we are gagging (and we are) for this wine. I only buy wine from the Wine Soc, I wouldn’t even know how to access the social networks that the site supposedly hosts.
If future vintages are more expensive it doesn’t matter: buy! Buy!! BUY!!! This is clearly a stunningly high quality cru for Pinot Noir and wines of this quality of are worth paying real money for. Ah… I wish I had real money…
Anyway, those of you who got this before it sold out make sure you cellar it incredibly carefully (if you are not going to have the massive pleasure of enjoying it soon) as Champagne is a delicate beast and, if well-stored, this will be beyond glorious when it is fully mature.