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2016 Brut Grand Cru “Special Club”

Paul Bara
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Like all of Paul Bara’s releases, Pinot Noir is the back-bone of their Special Club. Production is strictly old-school, with only free run and first press juice used, fermentation in small cement tanks, and aging and riddling in cold, extremely deep cellars for several years. Nothing is released until ready.
     Each year, the Special Club represents the pinnacle of the Bara process and style. Superlatives seem to be insufficient when describing the experience of savoring a glass of this Champagne. It simply has it all—refined hazel-nutty, toasty notes, bright acidity, some of the most delicate bubbles ever created, and a finish that lasts and lasts (sometimes longer than the bottle does).

Clark Z. Terry

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Technical Information
Wine Type: sparkling
Vintage: 2016
Bottle Size: 750mL
Appellation: Champagne Grand Cru
Country: France
Region: Champagne
Producer: Paul Bara
Winemaker: The Bara Family and Christian Forget
Vineyard: 35 years average, 11 ha total
Soil: Clay, Limestone
Aging: Ages in bottle for 5 years before release
Farming: Lutte Raisonnée
Alcohol: 12.5%

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About The Region

Champagne

map of Champagne

True Champagne must not only sparkle, but also must come from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and be made using méthode champenoise—a process that involves prolonged aging of the wine as well as a bottle fermentation used to add the sparkle to the finished product. Though wine has been made in this region since at least the 5th century, Champagne as we now know is a relatively new creation. It wasn’t until the 19th century that sparkling wine production took hold on a large scale in much part due to improvements in the strength of glass for bottles and the embrace of French nobility of the sparkling wines of the region.

Only three grape varieties may be used to make Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The chalk-heavy soils not only provide complexity and texture to the finished wine, but also act as a natural humidifier thus keeping the vine’s roots warm during colder months of the year. There are grand cru and premier cru designated vineyard areas but unlike Burgundy, there are few lieu-dit vineyards (though in recent years there has been a greater interest in producing vineyard specific Champagnes).

Kermit’s first foray into the region came in 1981 when he began importing the wines of J. Lassalle and Paul Bara—two producers whose wines we still import. In the mid 2000s, Kermit began importing the wines of Veuve Fourny et Fils.

Of Champagne, Kermit says, “You might be surprised to learn that I don’t like a goût de terroir to dominate the taste of Champagnes. If it dominates, you lose finesse. I want some, obviously—but only enough to keep things interesting.”

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Old wine bottles

Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.

Inspiring Thirst, page 236

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