Vilmart: "potentially one of the finest editions of this cuvée yet"

Posted by CrushWine

The Most Profound Vilmart?
2006 Vilmart Grand Cellier Rubis Rosé
"potentially one of the finest editions of this cuvée yet"
-Peter Liem

It does not seem too grand to suggest that this is one of the finest rosé Champagnes being made in Champagne, by anyone, period.

These sorts of grandiose statements are getting less and less controversial when it comes to the Champagne that Laurent Champs is making at Vilmart & Cie.

It's easy to line up impressive quotes from just about all the Champagne gurus. From Richard Juhlin: "Vilmart has quickly established cult status, only topped among growers by Selosse."

Peter Liem: "Vilmart & Cie. is not only one of the greatest grower-estates in Champagne, but one of the finest champagne producers of any type in the region."

We could go on, but we won't.

Since taking over the family reins in 1990, Laurent Champs has taken Vilmart to the next level and the collectors are taking notice. Not everything is so simple, but in this case it is.

Among all the cuvées the Grand Cellier Rubis Rosé holds a special place at the store. With all due respect to the "Coeur de Cuvée" and the "Cuvée Creation," I believe this is the most profound of the Vilmart wines. I still remember, very well, opening the 2004 when it first came out, an impromptu gesture for an employee leaving Crush. Everyone in the room was dumbfounded... it was a transcendent bottle (and it has only gotten better).

What this wine achieves in the best vintages - and the new-release 2006 is most certainly in this category, see the Liem quote above or the full review below - is very hard to pinpoint. It is enigmatic, almost contradictory. On the one hand, the wine is luscious and textural - Juhlin references Ponsot's Morey-St-Denis in talking about the Grand

Cellier Rubis. The wine is so obviously red Burgundy with bubbles yet also something greater, more agile, brighter.

The Grand Cellier Rubis Rosé is made in the saignée method, meaning the color comes from the skins, not from the addition of red wine. This obviously accounts for some of the texture, the vinosity. Vilmart is also famous for fermenting their wines in oak foudres - this accounts for some of the Krug-esque depth.

Yet, with this richness of flavor, fruits ranging from soaring strawberry perfumes to crisp, taut raspberries, there is an elegant discipline, as if everything stern, everything steely and sharp, were polished into satin. Vilmart's Rubis is exceptionally clear, glacially pristine, ungodly pure.

If there's any easy answer to this brightness, the natural lift of the wine, it would be the blending in of Chardonnay (in the case of the 2006, 40%) and the house's tendency to block malolactic fermentation, which preserves the natural rigor of the wine.

It also makes the wines very ageworthy - indeed, Vilmart's wines are known for being awkward and angular in youth. And while I've had this experience with a number of the young wines, I've also opened some of them young with simply astounding results. The 2004 referenced above was one such experience, the 2006 tasted on Tuesday of this week was another one.

The answer? Buy enough to open young and old.

And do so now because this wine disappears. Seriously - go ahead and try and find 2002 or 2004. It's not easy. (We know because we're always trying.) I've actually gotten emails from collectors, from wine geeks, lamenting the final bottle of Vilmart pulled from the cellar.

The 2006 has only recently been released and this is the sharpest price you're likely to ever see.

At the moment, we believe we'll be able to fulfill most reasonable orders. Give us your maximum order and we'll do our best!

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Stephen Bitterolf
Wine Director
Crush Wine & Spirits

Peter Liem: "It feels seamless from beginning to end, its concentrated red-fruit flavors enlivened by vivid acidity, and while it's still youthful, it already shows a multi-dimensional fragrance on the palate, finishing with densely-knit aromas and long, nuanced length. It's an outstanding wine, marked by tremendous energy and finesse, and it's potentially one of the finest editions of this cuvée yet."