2013 Blanc de Blancs, Les Blanches Voies, Vilmart
'Vivid, focused and exceptionally beautiful'
£1,050 per 6 bottle case in bond
‘Vilmart is the greatest grower Champagne I know…the Vilmart range begins at brilliant and just keeps getting better.’ Tom Stevenson, leading specialist Champagne writer
‘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
‘This is one of Champagne's top estates, and the wines reviewed here come warmly recommended.’ Willam Kelley, robertparker.com
‘These are majestic wines that no one who loves fine champagne will want to be without.’ Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
I do this every time….I rattle off various endorsements from critics to introduce a VIlmart offer. Why? Well, frankly because despite these outstanding comments, and there are many more I might add, Vilmart seems to remain a little off radar, which is crazy given the quality, consistency and individuality exhibited by these wines over many years.
I have followed this estate for quite some time (since the 1996 vintage) and I would suggest that, if anything, the range has stepped up in recent years. I rate Laurent Champs’ wines as highly as any produced in Champagne today and, even in challenging years, Laurent’s wines tend to come in among the handful of wines that constitute the best of the vintage.
Laurent is the fifth generation of his family to run Vilmart & Cie, which can trace its history back to 1890. Vilmart has always made its own wines from its own vineyards – a récoltant-manipulant as the French say. They own 11 hectares of vineyard in Rilly-La-Montagne, about five kilometres to the south of Reims in the region known as the Montagne de Reims. Their vineyards are planted largely with Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (36%) with the balance Pinot Meunier, and total annual production comes in at a modest 8,500 cases. Interestingly, Laurent has never employed herbicides or chemical fertilizers since he assumed control of the estate.
To the best of my knowledge, Laurent has always vinified the base wines in oak, some of which is new, yet you wouldn’t tell that easily and, as the years have passed, the use of oak has become increasingly sensitive and refined. The wines do not undergo malolactic fermentation either, and dosage is kept to a modest 7 grams per litre, 4 with regard to the wine question. With Vilmart, you quickly get the sense that the potential of the fruit at harvest is the focus, as Laurent has an uncanny habit of turning out great champagnes almost irrespective of the year. As Antonio Galloni once commented, ‘one of the things I admire most about Laurent Champs is his ability to turn out not just good – but great – wines in challenging years in which other growers struggle.’ It is in such years that growers demonstrate their skill, and it should be said that comparatively few can match Vilmart for sheer consistency. It is no surprise, when you consider this approach, coupled with high-class winemaking, that critics are so ready to heap praise on this small producer. At this point, it is worth noting that none of Vilmart's vineyards are classified Grand Cru…but you wouldn’t tell that from the quality in the glass. Mark my words.
Les Blanches Voies is a single parcel Blanc de Blancs. This 100% Chardonnay comes from a Premier Cru-classified vineyard where the vines are 60 years of age. Just 3,600 bottles of this cuvée were made and it was released for the first time in 2009. It is aged in bottle for a whopping 84 months on lees before release. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to taste the 2013 vintage of this rare cuvée, but rest assured, I’ll be looking to rectify that situation before long. I am however happy to offer this new release here, and I have included Antonio Galloni’s glowing endorsement below. I am somewhat surprised by Antonio’s recommended drinking window as he suggests it isn’t drinking yet, but only allows it 7 years thereafter. I am surprised by that as vintages like 2011 and 2012 showed the potential to age for 15/16 years as they reached their plateau….I can only assume it is an error.
2013 Les Blanches Voies, Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut, Vilmart
£1,050 per 6 bottle case in bond
97 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
The 2013 Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Blanches Voies has it all. Rich, vibrant and wonderfully deep, the 2013 shows an extra kick of mid-palate intensity compared to the 2012 tasted alongside it. Lemon confit, graphite, hazelnut, spice and dried flowers are all amplified in a Blanc de Blancs that at times has a Pinot-like level of textural richness and volume. The 2013 is vivid, focused and exceptionally beautiful. This fruit was picked on October 4, the last October harvest at Vilmart. Dosage is 4 grams per liter, on the low side for Vilmart, but perfectly judged for this wine. Disgorged: April 1, 2021. Drink 2026-2033.
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,