Wood-aged base wines lend these Champagnes their distinctly mealy and Burgundian flavors. They’re often described as the best grower in Champagne. Vilmart’s wines can offer a resonance and majesty unique among small estates. 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.”
It’s clear to me Vilmart is a Champagne estate of unassailable consequence, a must-have for anyone interested in the possibilities of this most suavely powerful and graceful of all wines. Casks are hardly the point any more. Organic viticulture, (truly!) low yields, remarkable polish of fruit, and the deliberate patient pursuit of a vision of perfection make Laurent Champs’ estate a gemstone gleaming among the chalk. At best, Vilmart’s wines are grandiose and resplendent. With sufficient bottle-age these can take you up and up into rare altitudes of complexity. Even at ground-level they’ve got lots of flavor, as though the flavors were stated in BOLD CAPS. ~Terry Theise
Deg 3/2014. This will continue Laurent’s streak of making the best wine in Champagne from “difficult” vintages, and indeed this is as good as the GREAT 2001—and maybe better. It brings a nettle-y green sting to the magnificent grace and concentration of this ever-improving wine. The length is replete with pepper, leather and verbena; the salt and stocky savor are mindbending — dried porcini, rare duck breast, clove and satsumas, all into a seemingly endless finish you want scoop back out of your mouth and drink again. ~Terry Theise
Oh man: yes yes yes! This takes the sinewy profile of 2010 and uses it to stir these flavors with steel; insanely vivid and incisive; wonderful from both glasses but especially the Juhlin, where its stiletto attack is even better integrated; whippy and tight but sexy and feline; like drinking Champagne with a lynx. Never had anything like this. Deg 3/2014. ~Terry Theise
50% 2013 and 25% each ’12-’11, deg 6/2015; dosage made, as for all of Laurent’s wines, from still wines of the two best cuvées, Grand Cellier d’Or and Coeur de Cuvée, done in wood. In the first 1-2 years after disgorgement this wine shows a spiky kind of flavor geometry, shapes and fractals not quite fused together, begging for time in the bottle or, failing that, in the glass.
As it moves toward knitting it leaps into complexity and finishes with the stern intricacy of a tête-du-cuvée. A work in progress but a noble one. It bears mentioning that many tasters find this wine hugely impressive and high-impact. I like and respect its energy and originality, but I have—alas!—had 4-5 year old examples, and they spoiled me. ~Terry Theise
The current blend is 80% 2012 and 20% ’11, deg. 10/2014. It’s 90-10 PN/CH. At some point this year it will be superseded by a ’13-’12 blend, which will be welcome. In general this wine has become more refined and demure over the years; you couldn’t call it “Burgundian” any more. This was better in the Jamasse, as it emphasized the powerful fruit of 2012 and any nuance of ’11 was sown under. It remains a gracious and sophisticated Rosé, among the classiest in all of Champagne. ~Terry Theise