In September 1729, the modern-day champagne business officially began when a wealthy cloth merchant from Epernay called Nicolas Ruinart opened the doors of the first official Champagne House. Perhaps it was destiny that Nicoas’s uncle( Dom Thierry Ruinart) should be a contemporary of Dom Perignon (given that both brands now belong to Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group). At any rate Dom Ruinart had the foresight to actively encourage his nephew Nicolas Ruinart’s interest in champagne.
Initially Nicolas the draper thought only to give away bottles of this sparkling wine to his customers (as a reward for purchasing textiles). But when they kept asking for more he soon realised that his customers would be willing to pay handsomely for such high quality wine, and the rest as they say is history. Within a decade, champagne was the company’s main focus.
Nicolas’s grandson Claude Ruinart joined the business in 1764 and moved the company to its current location in Reims, above the famous Roman chalk pits. Champagne Ruinart Pere et Fils was the first producer to realise the benefits of the old Roman chalk cellars as the perfect storage space for maturing champagnes at steady, cool temperatures. Although royalists at heart, the family also supplied many prominent personalities of the revolution with Ruinart champagne. Even before the rise of the champagne emperor Napoleon, Ruinart had already made a specialty of English dukes, and soon Claude’s grandson Edmond was travelling all the way to America and sharing his family champagne with the lucky inhabitants of the White House.
During the first world war the company premises was completely destroyed by bombing and head of the house Andre Ruinart had to set up shop in one of the chalk-pit cellars beneath the city, eighty feet below ground. When a bomb burst the water mains and flooded the cellars, he calmly put his desk on a raft and continued to conduct the firm’s business from his floating post. In 1950, Ruinart joined with Baron Philippe de Rothschild (Bordeaux’s Chateau Mouton) and since 1960 the company has been a subsidiary of luxury conglomerate LVMH. Today Ruinart’s production has climbed to 2.5 million bottles but it still maintains its global reputation for premier chardonnay.
Elegant, full and generous in flavour, with low dosage and great reserve wine components, Ruinart champagnes have often been described as having “the power and body of pinot noir in a chardonnay”. The firm has always owned some great Montagne De Reims vineyard sites which produce chardonnays that are richer and rounder than the leaner more mineral wines produced from the great growths of the Cote des Blancs. It is the judicious blending of these different plots and crus that produces the greatest expressions of blanc de blancs in the non vintage and prestige Dom Ruinart cuvees.
This entry level non-vintage champagne is unusual because it has a high proportion of pinot noir in the blend and is made in the style called “gout anglais” (english taste) – gently sparkling with rich broad toasty flavours, derived from extra lees aging of the wine before release.
Variety: 48% pinot noir, 5% pinot meunier, 47% chardonnay
Appearance: Delectable golden yellow with lively persistent bubbles
Nose: Apples and pears, tinged with aromas of rose, honery and fresh baked cookies
Palate: Perfectly balanced, round and smooth with harmonious persistent flavours that envelop the palate.