2008 Vilmart Grand Cellier d'Or


94Average Score
flagChampagne / France

An 80-20 Chardonnay-Pinot blend from a single 45-year-old vineyard planted solely to selection massale in Rilly, Vilmart’s 2008 Brut Grand Cellier d’Or is scented with gentian and iris, along with intimations of the lemony juiciness and the alkaline, saline, chalky mineral bath that follow on the palate. A miso and clam stock-like savor serves for saliva-inducement in a finish at once gripping and glowing, with an exuberantly invigorating meld of lemon, nuts, musky rose radish and diverse sprouts of grains and legumes, not to mention the palate-coating persistence of mineral elements. I imagine that this will prove worth following for the next half dozen or more years. ||If a visit with the articulate and passionately quality-conscious Laurent Champs – or even “just” the tasting of his wines – doesn’t leave you inspired about the future of Champagne, then I don’t know what that would take. I can recall having been slightly disconcerted at the impression left by oak on some of the wines I tasted from Vilmart in the younger Champs’ early days in charge here, but recent wines are a model of how to integrate wood and Champagne which, granted, is made much easier by the fact that most of Vilmart’s wine nowadays sojourn in large Alsace-style foudres that Champs has been amassing for long enough that there is little (if any) overt, resinous “oakiness” to extract. Rather, we have the same sort of subtle influence – here too, with wine that doesn’t “do malo” – as you can experience at many a top, tradition-minded Riesling address. And even the minority Vilmart wine that sees smaller barrels or a bit of new wood is by no means overly marked by that stay. No advocate of low dosage for its own sake, Champs’ wines tend to harbor 8-10 grams of residual sugar that is almost invariably well-judged, lending support without overt sweetness. It’s worth bearing in mind that Rilly is hardly the most prestigious among Champagne’s premier cru-rated villages, and were it not for Vilmart – only a small share of whose acreage spills over into neighboring Villers-Allerand – we would be largely ignorant of this terroir’s solo potential. (The classifications themselves were rendered from the perspective of value as blending components.) I tasted most of the Vilmart wines reviewed here twice – once in June, and once in September – and have amalgamated by tasting notes where applicable. eRobertParker.com.November, 2013

David Schildknecht, Vinous    Score: 94/100

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