Wine Spectator 95
"Vibrant, finely cut acidity structures this seamlessly integrated version, with layered flavors of poached apple, quince, honey and candied ginger. Drink now through 2023.- The Wine Spectator"
Robert Parker 92
"The NV Brut Cuvee Grand Cellier possesses gorgeous intensity in its piercing notes of lemon, white flowers and spices. Smoky, floral notes continue to emerge as the wine shows off its class and sheer energy. This is a great showing from the Grand Cellier. The Grand Cellier is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. This release is based on 2008, with reserve wines from 2007 and 2006. The fruit is sourced from Les Hautes Greves and Les Basses Greves, both in Rilly la Montagne. Dosage is 10 grams per liter. Disgorged May 2011. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2015. "
" Disgorged 5/09, a blend of 50% 2007 and the balance 25% each 06 and 05; 70% CH 30%
PN, aged 10 months in foudres; I dont remember a better bottling of this; remarkably
swank and filigree and articulate; a tiny bit drier (and thus more lobster-stock-ish); you
know, this is one of Champagnes great basic wines; it has the salt-sweet of a miso-glaze
and the umami savor of saffron, yet theres also a basil Provencal note; really its a clove
and nutmeg and rusk and lobstery mosh-pit of fizz.
It was so good it made us laugh, the way certain wines can. We were looking at the
stained-glass panels and suddenly I got the giggles. I kept wondering why all the scenes
in these panels depict religious images or else bounteous agricultural pictures; I mean,
why not show some hapless peasant being flogged or a dog humping some guys leg?
We know it must have happened. So I giggled and felt really evil. Last year I had a mystical
reverie sitting in the very same spot and looking at the very same things, and this
year I was like in the 7th grade again." ~ 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.