Above image: The Rubis, a non-vintage rosé champagne by Vilmart.
Champagne Vilmart & Cie, an artisanal champagne producer from the Montagne de Reims region, has made its debut in the Singapore market.
With grower champagne a fast-growing trend among consumers, the arrival of Vilmart comes at an opportune moment. They have been estate-bottling their champagnes in the village of Rilly-la-Montagne since 1890, and fifth generation proprietor Laurent Champs is now at the helm.
The interesting thing about Vilmart, besides being a long-time grower champagne house, is their unique winemaking process. One hallmark is the vinification of all their cuvées in wood, giving their wines great depth and roundness.
After 10 months of vinification in wooden barrels, the wine is bottled and left to age in the estate’s chalk cellars. Non-vintage champagnes are aged for 3-4 years, while vintage labels are given 5-8 years to mature.
There is also a complete absence of malolactic conversion, so the natural malic acid found in wines is never converted into lactic acid. It’s a process winemakers usually want as lactic acid is softer and creamier, and thus more palatable.
However, according to Champs, preventing malolactic conversion “preserves freshness, tautness and subtlety, as well as the pronounced identity of the aromas”, resulting in a distinct Vilmart style.
Another thing they do differently is that they eschew the use of Pinot Meunier (one of only three permitted grapes in champagne making), focusing instead only on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Champs explains that this was deliberately done as Pinot Meunier is the least acidic of the three varietals, and goes against his malic acid-forward approach. Vilmart vineyards are thus planted with a majority of Chardonnay (60%), with the remaining 40% all Pinot Noir.
It is also worth noting that Vilmart uses no chemical fertilisers on their grounds, as Champs is a strong proponent of protecting the region’s biodiversity and ecosystem. Their champagnes are all certified High Environmental Value (HVE) and Viticulture Durable en Champagne (VDC).
They are debuting in Singapore with seven labels, three of which are non-vintage, and of the four vintages, one is a blanc de blanc. Despite the level of craftsmanship that goes into Vilmart’s winemaking, their prices aren’t steep either.
Their refreshing and fruity non-vintage Grand Reserve retails at only S$78, while on the other end of the price spectrum is the Blanc de Blancs 2011, made using 60-year-old vines, retailing at S$308. Their rosé champagnes (they have two) are exceptional too, with the floral and complex Emotion 2012 (S$178) vintage definitely bringing out all the feels with each sip.
Champagne Vilmart & Cie is being distributed in Singapore by Malt & Wine Asia. Vilmart champagnes are retailing online on their website, or can be found served at restaurants such as Brasserie Gavroche, Kakure and Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.