Stephen Tanzer 94
"15% still red wine added; disgorged 12/08) Pale orange-pink with tiny bubbles. Delicate, spicy aromas of redcurrant, strawberry, white flowers and baking spices. Nervy red berry flavors are underscored by lively citrus and mineral qualities, with a note of cinnamon emerging on the back end. Very pure rose with strong finishing cut and excellent clarity-understated but packs a sneaky punch of juicy red fruit flavors on the long, sappy finish. "
Wine Advocate 93
"The NV Brut Premier Cru Cuvee Rubis flows from the glass with sensual layers of perfumed fruit, showing stunning detail, clarity and purity. This vivid, multi-dimensional Champagne is full of nuance, not to mention class. It is simply wonderful and is not to be missed. The Brut Premier Cru Cuvee Rubis is 90% Pinot Noir (including 15% still Pinot) and 10% Chardonnay (equal parts 2006 and 2005 vintages), aged in medium-sized barrels. Disgorged: December, 2008. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2016. Proprietor Laurent Champs makes some of the most elegant, refined wines in Champagne. All of the wines are aged in oak ranging from large, neutral casks to small barriques, some of which are new for the top selections. Few producers have been able to find such impeccable balance using oak. A hint of Ramonet here, a suggestion of Leflaive there....simply put, these are majestic wines that no one who loves fine Champagne will want to be without. - Wine Advocate (Dec 2009)" ~ RP
Wine Spectator 92
"Gingerbread, whole-grain toast, coconut, berry and orange aromas and flavors are complex and well-knit in this elegant, classy Champagne. Firm and dry. Lingers nicely on the finish. Drink now through 2012. 83 cases imported. " ~ BS
" Disgorged 11/09, 90% PN 10% CH, half-half ’07 – ’06, ten months in foudre; As always,
the most exotic and vinous Rosé in this offering (and possibly in all Champagne), as if
it were some ether of Bonnes Mares.
I just think I’ll permit myself to quote Richard Juhlin’s new book 4000 Champagnes on the subject of Vilmart & Cie: “Vilmart has quickly established cult status... since young Laurent [Champs] took over from his father in 1991, the company has become one of the true gems with the perfect wine, Coeur de Cuvée, as its most brilliant star. This wine was the best made in Champagne during the “off” years of `91, `92, `93 and `97. Hunt like a demon for the scarce 5000 bottles that were made of this gem!” It’s clear to me Vilmart is a Champagne estate of unassailable consequence, a must-have for anyone interested in the possibilities of this most suavely powerful and graceful of all wines. Casks are hardly the point any more. Organic viticulture, (truly!) low yields, remarkable polish of fruit, and the deliberate patient pursuit of a vision of perfection make Laurent Champs’ estate a gemstone gleaming among the chalk. At best, Vilmart’s wines are grandiose and resplendent. With sufficient bottle-age these can take you up and up into rare altitudes of complexity. Even at ground-level they’ve got lots of flavor, as though the flavors were stated in BOLD CAPS. " ~ Winery notes
VilmartView all from Vilmart
Region: Montagne de Reims
Premier cru sites in Rilly-la-Montagne and Villers-Allerand
Total vineyard holdings: 11 hectares
Annual production: 8,500 cases
Vines: 60% chardonnay, 36% pinot noir, 4% pinot meunier
Vilmart & Cie (RILLY-LA-MONTAGNE)
"Vilmart & Cie. traces its history back to 1890, when it was founded by Désiré Vilmart, and from the beginning, Vilmart & Cie. has always been a récoltant-manipulant, making champagne exclusively from estate-owned vines. Since 1989 the estate has been in the hands of Laurent Champs, the fifth generation of the family to take the helm of the house.
The majority of Vilmart's 11 hectares of vines lie in Rilly-la-Montagne, although there are a few plots just over the border in the neighboring village of Villers-Allerand. Vilmart is a member of Ampelos, an organization that promotes organic and sustainable viticulture, and Champs has never used any herbicides or chemical fertilizers since taking over the estate. All of the vineyards are planted with cover crops and plowed, and Champs enjoys an additional advantage in that his parcels are relatively large--only 12 different parcels over 11 hectares--meaning that he is more protected from contamination by chemical treatments in neighboring plots.
Vilmart & Cie. is not only one of the greatest grower-estates in Champagne, but one of the finest champagne producers of any type in the region."
-Peter Liem, Champagneguide.net
In the early days when I first approached Vilmart and started working with Laurent Champs, I had mixed emotions about some of the Champagnes. Please note what "mixed emotions" actually means. It doesn't mean I doubted the worthiness of the wines or thought they were mediocre. It means I had different opinions about different aspects of the wines. I was thrilled with some, intrigued with all, and wondered whether a couple were too oaky.
Earlier in his career, I think Laurent was flying blind on the matter of oak, and his recent Champagnes have wisely--presented a more integrated and elegant profile. Yet he is adamantly a vintner first, before he is a maker of Champagne: "We do wine first, then afterward we do Champagne," he says. Every base wine, without exception, sees at least ten months in casks of varying size and newness. Once in a while there's a brief disconnect between fruit and wood immediately after disgorgement, but 2-3 years on the cork make for a dramatic metamorphosis. Matter of fact, I've found Vilmart among the most food-friendly of all my Champagnes, because they're so gracious, so vinous, so lordly in their carriage. It's clear to me Vilmart is a Champagne estate of unassailable consequence, a must-have for anyone Interested in the possibilities of this most suavely powerful and graceful of all wines. Casks are hardly the point anymore. Organic viticulture, (truly!) low yields, remarkable polish of fruit, and the deliberate patient pursuit of a vision of perfection make Laurent Champs' estate a gemstone gleaming among the chalk.