2016 Paul Bara, Champagne Brut Grand Cru "Special Club"
2016 Paul Bara, Champagne Brut Grand Cru "Special Club"

2016 Paul Bara, Champagne Brut Grand Cru "Special Club"

Montagne de Reims, France 2016 (750mL)
Regular price$139.00

2016 Paul Bara, Champagne Brut Grand Cru "Special Club"

 Tonight’s Friday bonus is, quite simply, a double whammy of prestige and pedigree. First, we get to feature the iconic Grower-Producer (aka Récoltant-Manipulant) Paul Bara, who was the village historian of Bouzy and widely considered among the village’s very best producers. And this isn’t any old village of course, Bouzy is the king of the Pinot Noir dominant Grand Crus that make up the Montagne de Reims. The second jolt of Champagne power comes in the form of two words: Special Club. That’s right, not only are we offering the top producer in one of the most prestigious Grand Crus–this is their super limited, made only in the most exceptional vintages, ode to the apogée of depth, complexity and richness that Bouzy Champagne can achieve. Not surprisingly we have just a very few cases of this rare gem. Don’t miss it!

When a young Paul Bara returned home after serving in WWII, he found that his family’s small estate in Bouzy had been ransacked and all but destroyed, so he got to work. In the following decades he not only restored the estate, but also expanded it, and along the way he established loyal clients in France and around the world, including the young California importer/retailer Kermit Lynch. Indeed, Paul Bara was one of the very first Growers to export his Champagne to the United States–a market that was entirely dominated by the big brand, house labels. This pioneering spirit was what inspired him to sell wines under his own name in the 1950s, something that the 200 year old estate had never done before. 

If you are fortunate enough to visit today you’ll find his daughter, Chantale, still at the helm of a beautifully appointed, modern facility with an expanded cellar that is dug deep into the chalky limestone. The estate now has 11 hectares of vines in Bouzy, still very small but this allows them to produce a nice range of wines that highlight the exceptional terroir of this Grand Cru. It’s also small enough to allow the Bara family and their team to farm everything by hand, with certified sustainability and many organic practices, and they are also able to harvest all of that pristine fruit by hand.

Winemaking is both traditional and clean, with modern equipment interspersed throughout the cellar. They use both an old fashioned wood press, and a modern “plate press,” and the juice is fermented and aged in temperature controlled tanks. The real magic happens after the wine is bottled and prepared for a long, slow second fermentation in the deep, cold cellars that are carved out of the limestone at almost 40 feet below ground. This allows for the slow aging that is necessary for that impeccable balance of elegance and power that Bara is famous for. Today’s “Special Club,” from the excellent 2016 vintage, was aged for at least 60 months before disgorgement, and has now seen an additional couple years of bottle age.

Chantale Bara was president of the “Club Trésors de Champagne,” which is the small group of growers who produce bottles known as “Special Club,” for four years, so she knows a thing or two about what it takes to make these rare bottles so, well, special. The 2016 shows immediately that classic Bouzy combination of ripe, red fruited Pinot Noir with layers of spice and savory earth. This blend also contains 30% Chardonnay (a rarity in Bouzy) that adds excellent cut and a long, chalky, mineral finish. Serve this blockbuster bottle of very fine bubbles cool, not cold, in an all-purpose or Burgundy stem (no flutes here please) and you’ll enjoy classy and classic aromas of crushed raspberries, white cherries, red currant, plum skin, hazelnut, lavender, lemon curd, white pepper, and a hint of dried mushrooms. It’s built for food for sure, and can stand up to heartier dishes of poultry and game, though is excellent with shellfish such as lobster and scallops as well. Though it’s ready to fully impress right now, I am quite certain that those with the patience to put down a few bottles for another five plus years will be handsomely rewarded!

2016 Paul Bara, Champagne Brut Grand Cru "Special Club"

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