All in Good Time
When Alice Paillard left her hometown of Reims as a teenager, she had little intention of returning. However, her travels around the world taught her a valuable lesson about love, passion and belonging, leading her back to her roots in Champagne and into the family wine business alongside her father, Bruno Paillard. Today, Maison BRUNO PAILLARD is celebrated worldwide for its exceptional wines, born from a shared love and respect of the land and a proud, timeless heritage.
Speaking to Alice about her childhood, it is clear that her parents instilled in her a respect for nature from a very young age. “My siblings and I grew up walking in the vineyards, with our parents sharing with us the fundamental values, passion and love for all things nature, wine, arts and music,” she says. “It was a very sensory experience; from tasting the delicious regional cookery to sampling and appreciating beautiful wines on a regular basis. I was fortunate to experience this love and passion early in my life.” Educated with a strong work ethic, a young Alice was inspired to leave the family home to explore the world. As she explains, “Growing up as the youngest child in a small town, I needed space to breathe and build my own experiences.” Living in different cities, from New York and Venice to Paris and London, shaped her future, sparking a desire to connect with her homeland and leading her back to join her father in the family business.
“One key word that defines our wines is ‘respect.’ Respect for the land, respect for our region’s personality and respect for our customers”
While working alongside her father signified a coming of age, Alice had a keen ambition to learn the intricacies of the winemaking process. She explains, “When I first returned to the Maison in 2007, it was crucial for me to understand how everything fitted together. I started working in the vineyards in Oger before moving on to the cellar and then looking after the key export market.” By the time Alice eventually took over the management in 2018, she had worked in every position in the house, enabling her to have a deep understanding of the Maison. Staying sympathetic to the Maison’s origins is as important today as it was when her father began the business. With an overwhelming desire to create a unique, pure and elegant Champagne, for over four decades, Bruno slowly evolved the Maison from the ground up, using grapes from the local villages, to 25 hectares, including 12 grand crus that provide over half of the Maison’s grapes
Today, the Maison remains proudly independent and resolutely faithful to its style, producing a wine that’s true to its origin and reveals the authentic, chalky character of Champagne’s soil.
Alice explains, “One key word that defines our wines is ‘respect.’ Respect for the land, respect for our region’s personality and respect for our customers by producing wines that have undergone the necessary extended ageing to express their full potential. She continues, “The other is ‘time’, which goes hand in hand with respect. Time is of the essence always as you cannot compromise or take shortcuts if you want to create the best possible Champagne. Champagne is essentially a waiting game – what we harvested this year will only see the light of day in four years’ time at the earliest, so one must exert patience and let the wine reveal themselves at their own pace.”
Despite its enviable success, preserving the Maison’s unique identity is a keen focus for Alice “We are and never will never be a Maison driven by size or volume simply because the style of wines we produce requires patience,” she explains. “We make long-term decisions; planting a vine is a 60-year project, and when we start working on a new cuvée, it will take us six years minimum before we can start thinking of releasing it.” This explains why Maison BRUNO PAILLARD cuvées can only be found in fine wine merchants, gastronomic restaurants and a few prestigious hotels worldwide, including Hand Picked Hotels. However, Alice also recognises the need to evolve, “One must not forget that we are working with something alive – the vineyards, the wine, the climate – and people change as well,” she says. “As such we absolutely must continuously evolve,” she continues. “However, we can say that our vision remains unchanged – respecting our terroir by extracting wines that are a true and pure expression of their origin and respecting our customers by bringing them the best possible wines with detailed information. So, maybe the way we reach this vision means we need to keep evolving but, you know what? It means we are alive!”
Alice’s choice: Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée Extra-Brut At Bruno Paillard, our most important wine remains the one that started our story all those years ago. Our Première Cuvée Extra-Brut brings together what we believe to be some of the greatest terroirs of Champagne enriched by the complexity of one of the oldest perpetual reserves. It epitomises what our Maison is about, bringing together complexity and subtlety. Each vintage, come blending time, this is always the cuvée we start with. It is precise, filled with energy but it will also show a richness that will only reveal itself to those patient enough to wait.