Champagne Friday 85.0 – Saint-Réol – Vilmart et Cie – Maurice Grumiers

Richard Juhlin

Richard Juhlin

Every Friday The no1 Champagne expert in the world will taste new & old Champagne s to give You a tip or two for the weekend. This week Richard Juhlin tasted new champagnes from Saint Réol – Vilmart et Cie – Grumiers. [read the full champagne story]

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Vilmart & Cie


Vilmart has quickly established cult status, only topped among growers by J. Selosse and Egly-Ouriet. The firm was started in 1890 in Rilly-la-Montagne and is now run by the absolutely fantastic Laurent Champs. The grapes are of mere premier cru level, but the vinification is exceptional. Vilmart is one of the few growers that cultivate their grapes organically and have most of the grape juice ferment in large oak barrels (foudres) and the rest—ninety barrels in total—in small one-, two- and three-year-old barrels from Allier. All the wines lie in the barrel for ten months and are enriched through bâtonnage. The perfectly pure champagnes that Vilmart produce from Rilly-la-Montague and Villers-Allerand all have a high, fine acidity due to the avoidance of malolactic fermentation. Since Laurent took over from his father in 1991, the company has become one of the true gems with the perfect wine, Coeur de Cuvée, as its most brilliant star. The wine was the best made in Champagne during the “off-years” like ’91, ’92, ’93, ’97, ´01 and ´03. Hunt like a demon for the scarce 5,000 bottles that were made of this gem!



Most of the growers in the village are members of the Vinicole d’Ambonnay cooperative that sells its Champagnes under the names Saint-Reol and Elégance. Nowadays the cooperative is run by Marcel Billiot, the brother of Henri. 150 growers share the same number of hectares at Ambonnay where the main part is sold to Moët, Clicquot and Taittinger. A merging of 13 cooperatives where all the bottling takes place at Union Champagne at Avize. The wines are however completely individual and are made in a gloriously generous style with masses of obvious chocolate at the base, and polished exoticism. The years 1998 and 2002 especially are very successful. My only objection is the high dosage, 12 grammes, throughout the line.

Maurice Grumiers


The company started business in that classic year for champagne,1928. Guy and Fabien Grumier controls 8.5 hectares of vines spread over 29 parcels in five different villages: Venteuil and Reuil on the Right Bank of the Marne, and Dormans, Festigny, and Nesle-le-Repons on the Left Bank. Much of the fermentation is done in small stainless steel tanks suited to the size of the parcels, although Fabien is increasingly fond of cask fermentation. Some of the casks used are from the Argonne forest. The grower used to make simple Champagne but today they have shaped up greatly. The entire portfolio is exciting. Their rosé de saignée and the solera are especially interesting. The age of the vines is rather high. Nice producer to follow and to visit.

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