One of Champagne’s Elite Cult Wines - 1996 Vilmart Coeur de Cuvee

Posted by Ian McFadden

"One of Champagne’s
Elite Cult Wines" -Peter Liem
1996 Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée

Vilmart's Coeur de Cuvée is a special wine. There's no way around it - it's easily one of the best grower Champagnes out there.

Without a doubt, Coeur de Cuvée needs time to show its true glory.

As far as cult wines go, Vilmart keeps a fairly low profile. However, those who know it are fanatics. They range from Champagne experts, to wine geeks, to blue chip collectors. Typical production is meager, somewhere around 7,000 bottles. This all adds up to Coeur de Cuvée being very rare. Back-vintages are virtually non-existent.

The small parcel of '96 Coeur de Cuvée on offer today are the only bottles you'll find any place in the world.

The '96 vintage in Champagne has been held as one of the great vintages of the past fifty years. The vintage delivered an incredible combination of power, intensity and acidity. The wines boast a deep, deep complexity and ridiculous drive and power. Landing even this modest sized parcel of '96 Coeur de Cuvée feels like a real coup.

"Coeur de Cuvée" means the heart of the cuvée. This is the very best from the precious middle portion of the first pressing. In his, Liem writes, "in Champagne, a 4,000 kilogram pressing yields 2,050 liters of juice in the cuvée, and Champs selects only the finest 800 liters from the middle of this pressing to make the Coeur de Cuvée."

As if this were not enough to produce outstanding wine, Coeur de Cuvée is sourced from 55-year-old vines from a single vineyard, the super-chalky, south-facing Blanches Voies.

The chalky minerality forms the backbone of the wine's tension-filled elegance. The mid-palate is packed with a suave minerality, complex citrus notes, and floral and spice notes.

This is an offer that I doubt I'll ever be fortunate enough to replicate - finding old Coeur de Cuvée from a top vintage is nearly impossible.

To order, reply to or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits