The Bruno Paillard N.P.U.- « Nec Plus Ultra » was born from the idea to create the greatest possible Champagne wine, whatever the constraints. To do this, the most extreme choices have been made at each step of the production of this outstanding Champagne wine.
This foolish dream gave birth to the N.P.U.-“Nec Plus Ultra”.
Blend: 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir
Classification: Grand Cru
Dosage: Extra Brut <6 g/L
Only in truly great vintages….
First, an exceptional vintage is needed: after improving our “savoir faire” during the 80’s, the first ever N.P.U – Nec Plus Ultra, a 1990 vintage, was released in 2002. Four follow, each of different temperaments: the generous 1995; the eccentric 1996; and the 1999, maybe the most classic, and 2003.
The 2003 harvest: A very Good Year, indeed!Were the effects of nature really so harsh that the grapes released themselves from their suffering, better to die than be free and alive, yet elusive? Because this wine is a survivor; of the unusually late frosts at the beginning of April, to the eight hailstorms, and the long heatwave that we all remember well. Also to survive – the ultimate obstacle – “the general idea”: willing the harvest to come soon, in order to celebrate or bury a vintage. What madness… at Bruno Paillard we knew that “time does not respect what we do without it”.
Exclusively “Grands Crus” grapes…
Of the 320 villages in Champagne, only 17 are entitled to the appellation “Grand Cru”; grapes selected to create N.P.U. “Nec Plus Ultra” 2003 are sourced from only four of them: Oger, Chouilly, Verzenay and Mailly. These are the noblest amongst the Grands Crus of the north of Champagne, better suited for the year’s heatwave.
In small wooden barrels….
As always at Maison BRUNO PAILLARD, only the first pressing – the purest – was retained. But an essential characteristic of the N.P.U – Nec Plus Ultra is that the first fermentation was conducted in small wooden barriques where the wines spent their first 10 months. During this period each “Cru” developed its own personality while acquiring these slightly woody aromas which used to be found in yesterday’s wines. Apparently a challenge, as this year was particularly sensitive to oxidation. Yet, despite this, the wine harmonised. The summer following the harvest, in July 2004, after 10 months of aging in barrels, the assemblage began, from only 14 selected barrels, half Chardonnay, half Pinot Noir, which gave 4,200 bottles, all individually numbered.
More than twelve years in the Cellar…
The second fermentation took place almost immediately after bottling and a long maturation followed in the darkness of our cool cellars. These bottles remained in the cellar 10 years on lees, before “disgorgement” (which date is on the back label). As always at Bruno Paillard, the “dosage” is very small. In the case of the N.P.U. “Nec Plus Ultra” it is 3gl, reduced to a minimum, virtually imperceptible, “Extra Brut”. After this “operation”, each bottle is then returned to the cellar for a necessary convalescence of at least a year before release onto the market.
Comments from the wine:
Tasting this wine is in itself a great moment. It should be served at cellar temperature (10°C) possibly refreshed in an ice bucket half-filled with water and a little ice. It should not be left too long in the refrigerator or on the ice. It can be enjoyed alone as an aperitif where its complexity can be fully expressive or accompany any meal, with the exception of sweet dishes. The 2003 vintage N.P.U. – “Nec Plus Ultra” took a 12-year journey to reach its full expression. Let it open in the glass before tasting. Admire its deep golden colour. Listen to it! Discover its many and complex layers of aromas that gently unfold . Finally, taste it, and grasp all its richness, each and every nuance…
“What audacity indeed make a extra-brut in this vintage controversial because of the extreme climate. The result is brilliant!”
Guide Gault&Millau – 2017
Guide Gault&Millau 2017 : 18/20
Guide Bettane&Desseauve 2017 : 19/20
Père Maurice salad
Gaston Boyer, father of Gérard Boyer (chef at Crayères in Reims for 20 years), invented this recipe at La Chaumière for one of its “foodie” guests who wanted a light dinner. He decided to test the chef making him add to the salad the sweetness he loved. For 35 years, this recipe was included on the menu at La Chaumière and Crayères (Reims restaurants).
This recipe is our interpretation of “Père Maurice” salad; different from that of the great father and son chefs, the Boyers.
• Fine green beans
• Black truffle
• Hazelnut oil
• Moden balsamic vinegar
• Foie gras
1. Beans should be al dente , and very slightly warm when served (to allow the foie gras to release the flavours).
2. The foie gras is cut into cubes of about 1 square cm
3. The truffle must be cut, not grated, to slices of 2mm thickness.
4. The lobster is cold, with a meaty yet tender texture., and also cut up.
5. All the ingredients are mixed gently with a very light dressing of Reims Clovis vinegar and Modena balsamic vinegar. Of course, just a small amount. Season with salt and pepper.
A challenging vintage for Champagne in the face of an unprecedented heatwave during the summer months. The wines are characterised by the year's unusual circumstances. Large-scale frosts destroyed most of the projected yield and they were followed by hail and an extremely hot summer. Harvest was kick-started early on August 21st and yields remained minuscule at 8,100 kg/ha. Atypically round, ripe, sun-kissed wines that miss freshness and backbone. The total acidity level was notably low, at 5.8 g/l. Only the very best performers were able to avoid heaviness and overripe aromatics. This vintage was not largely declared but some famous names, Krug and Dom Pérignon at the fore, chose to experiment with it. Both produced excellent 2003s and Dom Pérignon's chef de cave at the time named the vintage as one of the creations he is most proud of. Some special cuvées surfaced, such as 2003 by Bollinger, as the house found the year did not stylistically fit into the La Grande Année range. Palmer & Co also took a curious route and made its 2003 only in magnum, releasing it much later than usual as cuvée Grands Terroirs. The ageing capacity of 2003 is much debated. Dom Pérignon's Richard Geoffroy had great confidence in his 2003 and he actually regretted releasing it too early. The jury is still out, but personally I am inclined to drink mine sooner rather than later, as the advancement post-disgorgement has in most cases been rather rapid and the wines miss the acidic backbone necessary for retaining freshness.