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Champagne Vilmart & Cie - Bortársaság magazine

Champagne Vilmart & Cie

The fifth-generation Vilmart is no larger than 11 hectares, yet they are favourites of Champagne fans.

The fifth-generation Vilmart is no larger than 11 hectares, yet they are favourites of Champagne fans. The cream of the crop meets in Champagne, and above a certain level, it’s not the quality but the style that distinguishes the houses, and connoisseurs who taste the most can only talk about Vilmart in terms of superlatives. The style of the family estate goes back to the classics, yet it’s completely unique: fine, lean with deep flavours and a glittering glow. We got to know the generous winemaker in 2019, and three years later, the first bottles of his have arrived. 


The history 

The house was founded by Désiré Vilmart, in the heart of Rilly-la-Montagne, at the foot of Montagne de Reims, in 1890. Later it was taken over by his son, Charles, who was followed by his grandson, Renan (Charles’ son). By then, they’d become independent and confident players in the wine region. After the Second World War, Renan reconstructed the building over the intact cellars, and they have been welcoming their guests here ever since.  

In 1963, Renan's son-in-law, carpenter René Champs, took over the management of Vilmart. He transformed the experience he had received from his father-in-law, showing good sense: he had been experimenting with biodynamics in the vineyard and filling the cellar with large barrels since 1970. In 1989, his son, Laurent Champs, joined before taking over the entire running of the estate in 1995. He kept all the core values but fine-tuned the details wherever he could. 

He is a generous character who talks about the estate with calm in his voice and precise wording. He’s now the most highly-regarded producer of the wine region. 


Until the harvest 

Vilmart cultivates the entirety of its own vineyards, the furthest of which is on the outskirts of the village, barely a kilometre from the cellar. The varietal composition is unusual – Pinot Noir makes up 90% of the grapes in the village, however, most of the Vilmart areas have Chardonnay. From the beginning, only his own grapes have been vinified at the cellar, with one exception – the only neighbour to deliver his crop in good years is Laurent’s cousin. 

I couldn’t say no to his Chardonnay. He cultivates it the same way as we do, on top of that, it’s next to our best plot. I gave up on the RM title [Récoltant Manipulant – grower estate] because of these few grapes, adds Laurent.  


After the harvest

It’s not surprising that only the best bunches are transported to the cellar, where they are put into the 50-year old Coquard press without destemming. This is followed by slow winemaking, the must is settled via the gravitational method, then it is put into barrels where it ferments with its own yeast. The wines are bottled after 10 months of ageing, which is when the secondary fermentation starts, with 3 to 4 years of bottle ageing for non-vintage, while in the case of vintage, it’s 5 to 8 years of bottle ageing.

I primarily make wine. That provides the basis of everything. Turning it into sparkling wine is the topping, for my greatest pleasure. – Laurent Champs. 

Vilmart’s style
The style of the house is sophisticated and extremely enjoyable. Deep flavours, maturity, precise and lively acids, a glittering appearance, slow and rich bubbles. All base wines are fermented in oak barrels, and contrary to common practice, the must’s natural malic fermentation is blocked, instead they lift it into the wine, which includes two such steps that only a few know as well as they do at Vilmart. 


Grande Reserve

VILMART & CIE Grande Réserve Brut Premier Cru

VILMART & CIEGrande Réserve Brut Premier Cru

HUF 21 500
Bottle priceHUF 21 500
Member price
HUF 20 425

Grande Reserve
The estate’s entry-level wine with a Pinot Noir backbone.  
Rilly-la-Montagne, Premier Cru, 30-year-old vines 
70% Pinot Noir; 30% Chardonnay
fermentation in large, 40- to 50-hectolitre barrels, with 10 months of ageing  
dosage: 9 g/l 

Grand Cellier

VILMART & CIE Grand Cellier Brut Premier Cru

VILMART & CIEGrand Cellier Brut Premier Cru

HUF 26 500
Bottle priceHUF 26 500
Member price
HUF 25 175

Grand Cellier
Vilmart’s best-known wine, with the strongest style notes. Rilly-la-Montagne, Premier Cru, 30-year-old vines 
70% Chardonnay; 30% Pinot Noir
fermentation in large, 40- to 50-hectolitre barrels, with 10 months of ageing

dosage: 8 g/l 

Coeur de Cuvée 2014
An iconic prestige wine which has been made since Laurent’s first vintage. Rilly-la-Montagne, Premier Cru, 55-year-old vines 
80% Chardonnay; 20% Pinot Noir
fermentation in 225-litre barrels, with 10 months of ageing 
5-year-long ageing in bottles, disgorging in March 2021

dosage: 7 g/l 

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