Respect

“My heart and mind are the soul of my wine.”

Laurent Champs

Heritage

A family business for five generations, Vilmart is driven by unique intuition, a taste for precision and a certain form of freedom.

In 1890, Désiré 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. With a background entirely unrelated to viticulture (skilled carpentry), he learnt all about the wine-grower’s craft at his father-in-law’s side. His commitment and perseverance earned him peer recognition, and he was made Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite 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 the utmost respect for the work accomplished by the preceding four generations.

Thanks to his frequent travels throughout the world, he now exports more than half his production to around 30 different countries. His daughter Morgane has also joined the house. An engineer with training in artistic crafts, she is now learning the family know-how while offering her own aesthetic perspective and creative drive.

The vineyard

The 11 exclusively Premier Cru hectares of the Vilmart vineyard are located in the Rilly-la-Montagne terroir. The proximity of the plots and unity of place, a particular feature in Champagne, allows the vines to be tended with particular care.

The Vilmart vineyard is also 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 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.

The approach

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.

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.

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