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VILMART & CIE 2023



I sometimes wonder whether the accumulation of aesthetic memory turns eventually into a felt sense. I don’t know, but if it does it makes it easier to love Laurent Champs’ wines, and also harder to “assess” them, because I’m already tasting the experience before I’m tasting the wine. In such an instance, the only thing I can do is to incorporate both sensibilities into my “notes,” and ask that you realize I approach the wines with expectations of bliss. I’m way far away from “objectivity,” but I am as close as ever to saying the truths of the moments of each wine. Sometimes they show that lit-from-within quality of Champagne Vilmart, that can make them seem almost beatific, but I do not read it in – or I hope I don’t.


What seems to be categorically true is, the wines don’t come at you like the sharp edge of a fencer’s sword; they surround and envelop you like a shawl, like an atmosphere. You don’t so much “taste” Vilmart as you steep yourself in them. I realize I am describing what we generally think of as umami, and yet within this ethereal brew are definite, describable flavors arranged in sensuously logical patterns, such that you receive a best-of-both-worlds impression, delivered, as so many great wines are, with delicacy and tact.


At last the Vilmart experience resists devolving into a question of Laurent Champs’ “status” among Champagne growers, nor does it care very much how “good” a wine happens to be. It offers, instead, a reminder we don’t realize how much we need until it arrives – that such a thing can exist, this tenuous musical ether in liquid form, this cordial little miracle.


(I’m using the information on the back labels to suss what’s in these, and can make inferences by looking at last year’s assemblages. I’ll reach out to the proper parties to check my assumptions, but the parties may or may not respond.)


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