When a chance to attend a Vilmart Champagne tasting arose, I immediately jumped on the chance. Vilmart ranks as one of the top new Champagnes I've tried in the last year and they have near cult like status.
They are a small Grower Producer Rilly, in Montagne de Reims with organic techniques, oak barrel fermenting and aging, hand harvesting, truly low yields, and attention to detail to produce kick butt wine. For more go to Vilmart Champagne.
The Champagne was accompanied by (from memory) oysters on the half shell, hamachi rolls, John Dory, and a selection of cheeses. All six were served concurrently, which made for a few glasses on the table.
These ALL rocked and improved with air and as they warmed. I consider them all quite young wines that will benefit from some age.
Vilmart Grand Cellier
Their basic vintage wine, and a wonderful one at that. 80% Pinot and 20% Chardonnay.
Grand Cellier 02
Nose - Clear, precise, apple, warm bread crust
Palate - Graham cracker, some warm apple, orange tones - perhaps tangerine or blood red oranges. Wonderfully warm with lingering herbaceous/spicy notes
Grand Cellier 05
Nose - A little soap, white pear, a little spice - perhaps cinnamon
Palate - Creamy, apple, tightly wound (but wonderful) citrus. Clean and clear - tasting young
I prefer the 02 for drinking today, but clearly these two wines will evolve over time
Their best, from their oldest vines, 50 years+ old. 100% aged in oak barrels. 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir.
Coeur de Cuvee 2001
Nose - Slightly syrupy/rich. Egg custard. Chalk with air. Warm and rich on the nose and as it warmed this absolutely rocked.
Palate - Concentrated mango and other exotic fruits tropical fruits. Very tasty. Wow!
Coeur de Cuvee 2002
Nose - Slate, menthol, wintergreen - a warm inviting quality
Palate - Green apple, an amazing amount of minerals. Very long and lovely. Minerals much more integrated after 2 hours.
Despite very different writeups, the 2001 and 2002 were fairly similar wines. They are a big step up from the Grand Celliers in my opinion, although slower out of the gate - until they warmed up and breathed for a while they didn't show much.
The 2002 was much lighter in color than the 2001, and I preferred the 2002. No surprise as 2002 is a much better year than 2001.
70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, in a clear bottle (like Cristal) and quite individualistic. They was not universally loved, but I thought they were great. "Just cause it tastes a little different doesn't make it complex" was one comment. 2000 is the last vintage ever, and the fruit from now on goes to the NV and vintage Grand Cellier. Think of this wine as a funky uncle - it's sometimes slightly oxidative and may show candied fruit, always fun, sometimes unexpected, and likely to show up with a pet monkey or absurdly young girlfriend.
Cuvee Creation 98 (from magnum)
Nose - Chalk and minerals
Palate - Very full, apple cider, rich and big, slightly oxidative
Cuvee Creation 99
Nose - Funk, good cheese, minerals, gunpowder
Palate - Spicy citrus. Young, clean and clear. High toned apple. Very light and festive yet serious and long
These two wines are very different. I like the 99 better today, but think that long term the 98 will greatly surpass it.
My wine of the night? Well, they are all wonderful, but I'd say either the Cuvee Creation 98 or Coeur de Cuvee 2002. Can't go wrong with any of these 90+ point Vilmart wines! For drinking right now? Probably the Coeur de Cuvee 2001.