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% Meunier
Vilmart & Cie (RILLY-LA-MONTAGNE)
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 exposition of Verzenay and Mailly Grand Crus, for example. 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 here go into Laurent’s Coeur de Cuvée, his top wine as well as 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 2200–5500-liter foudre and demi-muid for the NV wines and smaller barrique as well as demi-muid 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.
“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
Cépage: 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir
Assemblage: 2016, 2015, 2014
Village/Vyd: Rilly-la-Montagne 1er Cru; Hautes Grèves
Soil Type: Clay and limestone
Fermentation & Élevage: 10 months in large foudre
Sur Latte: 30+ Months