Located to the east of Epernay in Bouzy, Paul Bara have been producing superb grapes off the same 11 hectares for seven generations; the strength of their wines riding on the purity of that A-lister, grand cru-rated fruit and its deep chalky soils.
The company falls under the category of grower champagnes, the fascinating set of producers who sit outside the big-name brands but often equal, sometimes even surpass, the flair and the quality equated with those brands. These producers do the whole thing from go to whoa, growing their own grapes, vinifying the champagne themselves and marketing the finished product under their own labels.
Paul Bara, the man, is a legend within the borders of Champagne, his star inextricably tied to the village of Bouzy. When Bara retired, he passed the reins to his eldest daughter, Chantale, the current steward of the house style.
Only the first pressing is used, the wines aged for at least four years in the 9m-deep chalk cellars and the vine yield maintained at very low levels. The vine mix is 9.5 hectares Pinot Noir and 1.5 hectares Chardonnay, the vine age between 35 and 40 years. There is no oak here, just stainless steel and enamel tanks. In a region where the majority of producers put their wines through a malolactic fermentation, Paul Bara do not. Preserving acidity in a region that is cool and on the brink of being unable to ripen the grapes is not the norm, however, it's working well for the Baras; their wines are rich and complex, and not at all aggressive or unapproachable.
One of the secrets to Paul Bara's complex and opulent style is their use of reserve wines, an approach not dissimilar to the likes of Charles Heidsieck. This in itself is uncommon for a grower champagne, where the cash tends to be a little more, shall we say, strapped, and the wines consequently have lower quantities of reserves blended in. The jewel in the Paul Bara crown is the Comtesse Marie de France, with all of the wines directly imported by Glengarry and new stocks recently landed. If you have a thing for good champagne and you like the idea of the personal touch over large corporate, you really should check these out.
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay