Grower Champagne Club – August 2017

Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier, Brut Premier Cru, NV, $80
Vilmart & Cie is based in the village of Rilly-la-Montagne, in Champagne’s northernmost Montagne de Reims region. It is brought to us through Terry Theise, who has played a major role in promoting grower Champagne. He has a collection of outstanding producers in his portfolio, all of which he has carefully selected over the years, but of Vilmart & Cie he says, “no grower in Champagne is more significant.” The much respected writer and critic Peter Liem writes: “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.” The estate dates back to 1890 and it was a récoltant-manipulant (grower-producer) from the beginning. Today, Laurent Champs is at the helm, representing the fifth generation of the family. He has 12 different parcels, over 11 hectares and uses no herbicides or chemicals in his farming. All of his Champagnes spend at least ten months in oak, in large casks of various sizes, giving them their singular richness and depth. This cuvée is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot from two parcels in Rilly-la-Montagne: Les Hautes Grèves and Les Basses Grèves. It is expansive and elegant, with layers of flavor and depth that continue to evolve in the glass, especially if it’s not too cold. As with all of Laurent’s Champagnes, it is an exceptional food wine. Excellent on its own, of course, or with fish, crustaceans, or white meat dishes. This is definitely one you could lay down for a year or two to let all of that complexity really develop.