Today in Redwood City we will taste Champagne Ruinart for the final Champagne Friday of 2016. The house of Ruinart is the oldest of all Champagne producers, and shipped their first bottle in 1728. I have visited them twice, and it is a must see for anyone traveling in the area. Ruinart is built on top of the oldest cellars in Reims, the famed crayeres (chalk pits) that were excavated by hand over 1000 years ago. The Ruinart family was originally in the textile business, but switched over completely to the Champagne business by 1735. This house was purchased by Moet in 1963, and is currently owned by their umbrella company, LVMH, the largest luxury goods conglomerate in the world.
Ruinart is very famous in France but still just getting recognized here in the US. They were out of our market for a long time, and when they first came back, we carried them immediately. At first, almost all of our sales were to French ex-pats, and many of our French customers come specifically for Ruinart still. The wines are exceptionally clean and fresh as a group, with wonderful fruit expression as well as great acidity and texture.
The current celarmaster at Ruinart, Fredéric Panaîotis is one of the great characters of Champagne. He likes to be called Fred, and is very outspoken and free, the opposite of most of the top negociant executives I have met. His wines are very elegant none the less!
His Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($64.99) is a wonderfully different style of Chardonnay based Champagne than any other that we have. While almost all of the others that we carry rely on the laser precision of Cote de Blanc fruit exclusively, this wine balances this electricity with the rich, nearly grapey Chardonnay of the Mountain of Reims. The result is magic; a full bodied blanc de blancs that still finishes dry and long!These crus; Trepail and Villers Marmery on the Mountain of Reims round out the mineraly focus of the Cotes de Blancs fruit. This is a creamy, subtly toasty bottle of Champagne with a little bit of lychee exoticism. It has class to spare and is exceptionally easy to drink.
The Ruinart Brut Rosé Champagne ($74.99) is a rich, well balanced rose will delight fans of great pink Champagne with a great contrast between pure Pinot fruit and pure Champagne chalk. It is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, with 18% of the Pinot vinified red and blended in for color and flavor. It has a little more color than most rose Champagne and a soft, full bodied texture. It is rich and satisfying, despite the deceptively high proportion of Chardonnay.
The flagship of the house is the 2004 Ruinart "Dom Ruinart" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($139.99). It is composed of all Grand Cru Chardonnay with 69% sourced from the Cotes de Blancs and the balance sourced from Sillery and Puisieulx, two sites on the north face of the Mountain of Reims. With ten years of ageing on the lees, the wine has wonderful vanilla cake dough richness, but is still vibrant and fresh. The characteristic chalky drive of the classic 2004 vintage makes for a long, bright finish, and this wine should continue to improve for decades. I recently had a bottle of the 1966 that still had time in hand! Unlike many big names, their vintage program, which this Blanc de Blanc is just one part of, represents only 1% of their production. The high degree of selection really shows!
We will taste all three of these today with Megan Gordon from Champagne Ruinart in our Redwood City store from 5pm to 6:30pm. I hope to see you there!
A toast to you!