The Friday Bubble – Review of Vilmart & Cie Grande Reserve NV vs Grand Cellier D’Or 2018 with Essi Avellan MW

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Today on The Friday Bubble with Essi Avellan MW and Nick Baker ; Vilmart & Cie Grande Reserve NV vs Grand Cellier D’Or 2018

Vilmart & Cie is a grower champagne and family home that originated in 1890 by Désiré Vilmart and ever since, sons and sons-in-law have followed, always with this love of the profession, allowing this small domain to become what it is today in the heart of the Montagne de Reims a few kilometres south of Reims in the village Rilly la Montagne. They have been farming biodynamically since 1989 and today are certified Viticulture Durable, Ampélos, and Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE) meaning farming is free of synthetic chemicals. The fermentations are entirely in oak, giving them a richness and complexity that really builds texture an unmistakably Vilmart character.

Another characteristic of Vilmart champagnes is the absence of malolactic fermentation. This preserves freshness, tautness and subtlety, as well as the pronounced identity of the aromas. After 10 months of vinification and resting on the lees in wooden barrels, the wines are bottled and left to age in the estate’s chalk cellars: three to four years for non-vintage champagnes, and five to eight years for vintages.

91/100 Essi Avellan MW
Grande Reserve
“The 2020 harvest makes up half of the blend, with the rest coming from 2019 and 2018 reserves. Having spent ten months in large oak casks, the overall impression is brightly fruity with fine restraint. The complex nose shows perfectly ripe fruit lined with menthol, liquorice and toasty-reductive whiffs. The palate comes with a distinct note of minerality and tension. Pristinely crafted and precise, this is an exceptionally fine starting point to the range. ”

2018 was a very unusual year in more ways than one. After an exceptionally rainy winter, spring was very mild. The warmth brought with it stormy and sometimes destructive weather as well as variable rainfall throughout the appellation. Summer was very warm, dry and sunny and surpassed even the record breaking temperatures of 2003. 2018 is therefore a new benchmark for the Champagne region in terms of the heat, drought and sunshine levels.

93-94/100 Essi Avellan MW
Grand Cellier d’Or 2018
“Vilmart vinifies its vintage Grand Cellier d’Or in four- to six-year-old oak barrels, and there is an elegant oak lining to the complex nose of ripe fruity perfection. Toastiness and spiciness are emerging alongside ripe lemon, crunchy apple and lush peach fruit. There is great old-vine concentration on the palate, bringing fine harmony to the wine with its bright, zingy acidity. The long taste, which remains highly youthful despite some 18 months of post-disgorgement ageing, speaks of longevity.”