Read our mini profile on Champagne estate Vilmart & Cie, which has been estate-bottling wine since the late 19th century.
Region: Montagne de Reims
Vineyard area: 11 hectares
Grower Champagne might appear to be a contemporary phenomenon, but Vilmart has been estate-bottling wine in the village of Rilly-la-Montagne since 1890. Its current proprietor, Laurent Champs, is the fifth generation of his family to make wine here.
Champs is a member of Ampelos, an organisation that certifies and promotes sustainable viticulture, and he has used no herbicides or chemical fertilisers since taking over the estate in 1989. He ferments and ages all of his wine in oak: large foudres of up to 5,500 litres for the entry-level wines, and 225- litre barriques or 600-litre casks for his top wines, the vintage-dated Coeur de Cuvée and Grand Cellier d’Or. Combined with their ripe fruit, this gives Vilmart’s Champagnes a creamy depth and complexity, although they also retain a brisk focus and poise, thanks to their avoidance of malolactic fermentation. They tend to be very closed in their youth, needing several years after release to fully reveal their character and aroma.
Address: 5 Rue des Gravières, 51500 Rilly-la-Montagne, France