Champagne Paul Bara
Supplier/Importer: Kermit Lynch
Appellations: Champagne Grand Cru, Bouzy
The Montagne de Reims boasts some of the best Pinot Noir in the region, and Bouzy is its capital. The key to Bouzy’s inherent greatness lies in its deep, chalky subsoil which imparts intense expression of fruit and great mineral complexity in its grand cru wines. The village of Bouzy and Champagne Paul Bara are practically synonymous. As the published village historian, Paul is indelibly linked to the lore of his hometown. Many argue that he is their most renowned producer, being one of the rare récoltants-manipulants in a region inundated with the mass-produced wines of the large, corporate champagne houses. These récoltants-manipulants, or R.M.s as they are known, are of the few that still grow their own grapes and make their own wines. Champagne Paul Bara is the quintessential example, where everything is done with a personalized touch.
Over the years, gradual improvements have been made to the estate: the surface area of the vineyards was expanded to eleven hectares (only 26 acres!), the winery and press modernized, and the cellar extended – and what an impressive cellar! It is carved entirely out of pure chalk and reaches a depth of over thirty feet below ground. When Paul returned home at the end of World War II, he found these same cellars raided, pillaged of nearly all inventory, and irreverently trashed by the German occupying forces. Of the few bottles that were salvaged, one can still experience the longevity and timeless quality of the Bara’s classic style. When Paul retired, he passed the direction of the estate over to his eldest daughter, Chantale, who has kept their family traditions and their house style very much alive. The Baras make their wines by hand, with low-yielding vines. Chez Bara, good maturity is ensured by prolonged bottle aging: four years minimum for the vintage Champagnes and two years for the non-vintage. Andrew Jefford, author of The New France, calls them, “…essential references for anyone who wants to enjoy and understand the ripe, dry richness of Bouzy…”