Grape(s): 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay
Localization: Montagne de Reims, France
Tasting Notes: Delicately perfumed with the gentle imprint of white flowers, citrus, sour plum and biscuit, the palate unfurls with depth and vibrancy, combining the red fruit flavours of Pinot noir with the cleansing citrus acidity of Chardonnay. Strawberry, cold-pressed apple, crunchy nectarine and lime blend seamlessly with notes of toasted sourdough and flecks of sultana, before closing with zesty aplomb on a spine of chalky minerality that lingers throughout.
Food Pairing: Grande Réserve shows its versatility, pairing beautifully with a selection of cheese such as chèvre, Brillat-Savarin, Comté and La Tur—or, at the other end of the spectrum, a delicate kingfish carpaccio.
The Domain: 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.