Champagne made a name for itself through the wines of large negociants - producers who buy fruit from the vineyards of other growers and blend many lots together. The past several decades have seen the rise of the "Grower-Producer" in Champagne. This label belongs to producers who are growing all of the fruit for the wine they produce, keeping their own product to vinify rather than sell it to the larger houses. Look for the "RM" on the label, indicating that the winery is a Recoltant-Manipulant, or Grower-Producer, and not a Negociant-Manipulant (NM), or larger house. Fine wine can be made in either way, but RMs produce products that are inevitably more indicative of terroir.
The Vilmart family has been an RM since its inception in 1890, and have been practicing organic and sustainable viticulture since their Laurent Champs, the fifth generation of the Vilmart family, took over production in 1989. Vilmart prides itself on making wine first, then making Champagne, meaning the attention to the quality of the still wines is their hallmark. The base wines all see oak cask, which makes the resulting Champagnes round and savory, and flexible at the table.
This wine is entirely sourced from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne, a Premier Cru village in Champagne. Juicy, with green and yellow apple and Meyer lemon. Honeysuckle, tarragon, and toasty spice. Mineral but by no means austere. The wines are terrific now, but also benefit from a few years in the bottle!
Pairings: Egg dishes, fried food, Kumamoto oysters, smoked salmon.