Why Buy: It’s not just that we love grower Champagnes — the product of the wine world equivalent of indie filmmakers, who do all their own growing, vinification, aging, and bottling. These two are great Champagnes in their own right, delivering everything we love in a bottle of bubbly: charm, character, depth, soul, and, yes, knock-your-socks-off deliciousness.


What They're Saying: The Wine Advocate, which seldom reviews Champagne, was positively unrestrained in a 91-point review that reads more glowingly than its score; it called Vilmart & Cie's 'Grand Reserve' "seamless and complete ... fleshy and enveloping," with "bursting" aromatics and a "pillowy mousse."


The Story:

* Peter Liem, of the Champagne Guide website, has rightly called Vilmart & Cie. "not only one of the greatest grower-estates in Champagne, but one of the finest Champagne producers of any type in the region." The house, founded in 1890, is located in the western end of the Grand Montagne, with most of its vineyards (11 hectares, all bio-dynamic) in the Premier Cru of Rilly-La-Montagne. At the helm is Laurent Champs, a 5th-generation winemaker who ferments and ages all his wines in oak and also circumvents the process of malolactic fermentation, giving the wines a richness and depth, but also a welcome crispness and definition. 

* The esteemed British critic Tom Stevenson could not have been more on the mark when he declared Goutorbe "one of the more important growers in Champagne," going on to hail the estate, in his acclaimed World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine, as a source of consistently "excellent, rich, [and] well-structured Champagnes — always satisfying to drink." The label owes its founding to Emile Goutorbe, who built a nursery with vine cuttings in Aÿ after the First World War. That eventually spurred Henri to establish an estate of his own in the 1940s, and it has been producing exceptional, estate-bottled Champagne ever since.


Specs: The Vilmart & Cie Champagne 'Grand Reserve,' derived from the 2017 vintage, is 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and spent 10 months in élevage in a large wooden vat and 30+ months sur latte; the Goutourbe is the exact same proportion of Pinot Noir to Chardonnay, though it spent its élevage in stainless steel and 60+ months sur latte.


Our Tasting Notes: 

*The 'Grand Reserve' is a Champagne of fine, soft bubbles that do not lack for staying power, with subtle notes of smoke and chalk that give it character and personality and a delicately satiny mousse that compels a second and third pour. 

*Goutorbe does not shy away from malolactic fermentation for his Millésime Brut, and it's apparent from the start; this is a Champagne of sly richness, with a lightly creamy mousse and fine-grained bubbles that make for an indulgent drinking experience. What also shows through, undeniably, is its maturity and grace.


What to Pair Them With: Oysters of any preparation; caviar with blini; shrimp and seafood; bouillabaisse; quiches; fried chicken; crispy hot French fries.


ABV: The Vilmart & Cie 'Grand Reserve,' 12.5%; the Henri Goutourbe, 12%.


Fun Fact: The website Eater has deemed the term "grower Champagne" a "hack, a cheat code, a secret password through the hidden door that leads directly to the good stuff. Drop the phrase 'grower Champagne' to a sommelier at a restaurant ... or the staff at your friendly neighborhood wine shop and watch their eyes light up."


Our Guarantee: We always buy and source direct, so you can be confident that your Champagnes will arrive in your hands with pristine provenance. Secure yours today!


*Offer NOT valid in-store. This offer is made pre-arrival, with wines estimated to be delivered to your preferred store in Winter 2023 (Dec. 21st - Mar. 20th, 2024). All sale prices are the lowest available at Total Wine & More and ONLY valid through Concierge Sales. No further discounts or coupons may be applied. Offer only valid in CA, DE, IN, KY, MD, NJ, NV, VA, and WI. This offer is for ONE WEEK, or until sold out, and will expire on Sunday, November 12th, 2023.