Champagne Vilmart & Cie - Grande Reserve 1er Cru Brut

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Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
750 ml


Vilmart & Cie looks back at a long history of grape growing and winemaking. It was founded as récoltant manipulant house in 1890 by Désiré Vilmart, in the village of Rilly-la-Montagne. Today, Laurent Champs, the fifth generation of the family, oversees the domaine.

The estate is located in the western end of the Grand Montagne and most of the holdings here are in the Premier Cru of Rilly-La-Montagne with a few small blocks in neighboring Villers-Allerand. Laurent farms 10 parcels over 11 hectares, an anomaly as most estates have many small parcels. This allows Laurent to farm with organic methods; his father practiced biodynamic viticulture and Laurent continues in this vein.

Like many of the villages in this area, Rilly faces north. This is the same exposure of Verzenay and Mailly Grand Crus. However, the holdings of Vilmart are in a privileged place. Laurent has a large block of vineyards on a south facing hillside on the other side of the village, in the direction of Montbré, which rises to the north. This vineyard is called Blanches Voies, a due-south section of 65-year-old ungrafted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines that go into Laurent’s Coeur de Cuvée, his top wine, Grand Cellier d’Or, his vintage wine, and a new single site Blanc de Blancs, called Blanches Voies. Vilmart’s other parcels are in the south west facing vineyard of Hautes Grèves, another vineyard with both Chardonnay and Pinot planted.

Laurent ferments and ages all his wines in oak: large 2,200–5,500-liter foudre and demi-muids for the NV wines, and smaller barrique as well as demi-muids for vintage wines. Malolactic fermentation is always blocked, giving the wines a crisp acidic structure coupled with the richness of the fermentation and aging regimen. Vilmart‘s wines are at once ripe and structured, perfectly walking the line between hedonism and austerity, expertly balanced, and always exceptional.

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