Bara is a Legend in Champagne - 00 Comtesse Marie de France

Posted by Ian McFadden

"The Gem to Search For"
2000 Bara Comtesse Marie de France
$20 Below Lowest Price in the Nation

"Paul Bara is a legend in Champagne... it is incomprehensible that he is best known for his red wine when his Champagne is world class... Comtesse Marie de France is the gem to search for." - Richard Juhlin

First, let's point out that Bara's Bouzy Rouge is, in fact, remarkable. But I will agree with Juhlin that the house's Champagne is absolutely world class and deserves the attention of any collector of the Grand Marques as well as anyone interested in a steal...

My next observation off the bat would be that the pricing today for his tête de cuvée Champagne, the Comtesse Marie de France, is just silly considering its quality: as low as $72 for 100% Grand Cru, vintage-dated blanc de noirs from a legend in the region and a benchmark in the appellation.

We're in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy, where Pinot Noir reigns supreme and the style is for generosity, a dark exoticism and rich red fruit. As Andrew Jefford comments in The New France, "The Champagnes of Paul Bara and his daughter Chantal are essential references for anyone who wants to enjoy and understand the ripe, dry richness of Bouzy."

And if you're going to understand Bouzy, Bara's Comtesse Marie de France is absolutely, as Juhlin notes, "the gem to search for." Today's offer is for the 2000 Bara Comtesse, an almost shockingly finessed Champagne considering it's entirely Pinot Noir made in the warmest village in Champagne.

Bara is known for strict selection already, but with the Comtesse, the level of attention toward perfect fruit is taken to a whole other level. In tougher vintages, the story goes that they sometimes pick single grapes off clusters while disposing of the entire rest of the bunch. The results are about 300 cases a year (all hand-numbered).

Certainly there's a wild intensity and fantastic concentration that results, and Comtesse is accordingly known for its grand density and depth as well as a dark sensuality to the red and black fruit, spice, even licorice and gamy animal notes.

Bara also holds the Comtesse back in the cellar longer than any of the house's other cuvées - this is over a decade old and just beginning to come out of its shell, still tightly packed and a little bit brooding. Bigger-bowled glasses help coax out the coating texture and staining fruit. It will stay fresh and gorgeous for another decade, no problem.

As you might imagine, food is a good option here. You could certainly begin to enjoy it on its own, but I really think this comes alive with a full spread of heartier fare - something like chicken liver mousse followed up with duck confit over a zingy salad and a chocolate-raspberry torte for dessert strikes me as just about perfect.

I'll reiterate that our pricing today is extremely sharp - we're a full $20 below the lowest price in the nation elsewhere, but as stated above, quantities are always tiny when it comes to Comtesse, and our parcel will not last.

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

2000 Bara Comtesse Marie de France