MV Vilmart & Cie, Champagne Brut 1er Cru "Grande Réserve"
MV Vilmart & Cie, Champagne Brut 1er Cru "Grande Réserve"

MV Vilmart & Cie, Champagne Brut 1er Cru "Grande Réserve"

Champagne, France MV (750mL)
Regular price$70.00
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MV Vilmart & Cie, Champagne Brut 1er Cru "Grande Réserve"

It’s always exciting when we get to sing the praises of Vilmart & Cie, because their tiny production Champagnes are so incredibly elegant and perfectly poised, but also because they get snapped up by top restaurants the world over so there is rarely any left! Well we have just enough (barely) to get some in your hands today, and given the rapturous following Vilmart has I highly recommend you do just that. But don’t just take my word for it: Renowned wine critic Antonio Galloni considers them masters of finesse, and Champagne expert Peter Liem counts them as “one of the finest producers in the region,” and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for global acclaim. Given all the scores and rave reviews you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by how affordable the “Grande Réserve” is . . . so the question is not should you buy, but how much can you fit in the cellar!

Laurent Champs is the fifth generation winemaker and proprietor at Vilmart & Cie, which was founded in 1890 as a “Recoltant-Manipulant,” making them one of the oldest continuously operating Grower Champagnes today. His grandfather Renan Vilmart was responsible for rebuilding the winery and other above ground structures, all of which were destroyed during WWII. The cellars were not harmed however, and they remain largely untouched. Renan’s son-in-law René took over in the early 1960s and was instrumental in gaining recognition for the quality of Vilmart’s wines in his home region and throughout France. Laurent then took the helm from his father in 1995, and it is no hyperbole to say that his talent and meticulous attention to detail has rocket this property into the upper echelons of Champagne. A tireless proponent and traveler, he now exports over half of the total production and the Vilmart label is available in more than 30 countries all over the globe.

There is no doubt a bit of glamor in flying to disperse destinations to present super sophisticated Champagne to myriad audiences, but the heart of what Laurent does can be found in their pristine 11 hectares of vineyards, and in those old cellars that managed to survive two world wars. In the vines, Laurent continues his father’s devotion to chemical free farming, using organic and biodynamic practices as needed and doing everything in accordance with nature and the environment. That results in beautifully balanced fruit, which then makes its way to the bastion of tradition and perseverance which is Vilmart’s cellar.

The first thing you would notice on a visit (which is highly recommended) would be the lack of steel tanks. Even houses that are famous for barrel aging have tanks for certain cuvées, and for general fermentations–not Vilmart. Everything is crushed, fermented, and aged exclusively in wooden casks of various sizes. But there is no “oak spice” whatsoever on the “Grande Réserve,” the neutral barrels just add depth and texture, and when combined with a complete intolerance for malolactic fermentation you get the supremely refined, knife's edge balance that Vilmart has become famous for. 

Today’s edition of the “Grande Réserve” is built on Pinot Noir (70%) with a decent amount of Chardonnay (30%) adding lift and saline minerality. The Pinot dominance is readily apparent in the glass–all-purpose please, no flutes–with a shimmering sterling silver hue that has hints of copper at its core. The nose follows suit with stone fruits, white cherries, marzipan, honeysuckle, candied orange, citrus blossom, and a wisp of peppermint. The super fine, persistent mousse dances around the precise yet sumptuous palate leading to a long, mineral laden finish. This is clearly a bottle that has earned its place among Champagne royalty, now all you need to do is chill it down and (gently) pop the cork!

MV Vilmart & Cie, Champagne Brut 1er Cru "Grande Réserve"
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