A family business for five generations, Champagne Vilmart & Cie is driven by unique intuition, a taste for precision and a certain form of freedom. The 11 Premier Cru hectares of the Vilmart vineyard are located in the Rilly-la-Montagne terroir.
The qualities of patience, consistency and humility are essential to exalt the wines. Laurent Champs follows this philosophy in his pursuit of making the right choices in everything he undertakes, learning from previous experience. For him, it is also a form of honesty regarding his creations; he takes a measured approach to viticulture to enhance the quality of his wines.
In 1890, Desire Vilmart founded the house in the heart of the village of Rilly-la-Montagne, at the foot of the Montagne de Reims. He was succeeded by his son Charles, then his grandson Renan. They were both instrumental in furthering the house’s growth. Independence and boldness were already characteristic of the house’s outlook.
During the Second World War, Renan witnessed the destruction of the estate. With courage and determination, he applied himself to reconstructing buildings and facilities over cellars that had been spared; Vilmart still occupies these premises, which have been developed and added to by each successive generation.
In 1963, Renan’s son-in-law René Champs took over the reins of the estate. His commitment and recognition earned him peer recognition, and he was made Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite Agricole.
Since 1995, René’s son Laurent Champs has imbued the house with his energy and dedication. He works with precision to reinterpret his wines, with utmost respect for the work accomplished by the preceding four generations.
The Vilmart vineyard is notable for its mix of varietals: a majority of Chardonnay (60%), with the remaining 40% planted to Pinot Noir. This proportion is highly unusual for the region, essentially planted to Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The estate’s vines are on average 35 years old. Grapes from the oldest vines, which are 60 years old, are reserved for crafting Coeur de Cuvée and Blanc de Blancs Champagnes.
With a desire to tend the vines in harmony with nature, Vilmart is committed to environmentally friendly viticulture. The house has obtained Haute Valeur Environnementale (High Environmental Quality) and Viticulture Durable (Sustainable Viticulture) certification, and abides by the principles of the Ampelos charter, a quality charter excluding the use of chemical fertiliser, herbicides and insecticides, thereby defending biodiversity and its own ecosystem. This careful management system enables the house to craft unique wines that reflect their terroir.
During harvesting, each cluster is carefully hand picked so that only the best fruit is selected, with the grapes kept intact until they reach the traditional pressing shed. Settling is achieved by gravity to preserve quality; the juices are then delivatel transferred to pack barrels and foudres (large oak casks), where primary alcoholic fermentation begins.
This is one of the house’s characteristics: vinification of all cuvees takes place in wood, which gives the wines their particular character, providing body, fruit, roundness and subtlety.
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 in wooden barrels, the wine is bottled and left to age in the estate’s chalk: three to four years for non-vintage champagnes, and five to eight years for vintages.
Laurent Champs is shaping the future, instilling the house with constantly renewed energy. He shares his independent spirit and pursuit of sound intuition with his team, guiding them in crafting an outstanding champagne.
Thanks to his frequent travels throughout the world, he now exports more than half his production to around 30 different countries, His son Thomas has also joined the house. He is now learning the family know-how while offering her own aesthetic perspective and creative drive.
Attentive to the smallest details, meticulous and sensitive, the cellar master pays particular attention to the emotions procured by the wines he crafts. Over the years, the house has forged a strong and remarkable identity. The quality and subtlety of its wines are now universally recognised.