Ruinart

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Ruinart was the very first established Champagne house, dating back to 1729. Chardonnay is at the heart of the Ruinart style, but not solely from the Cote des Blancs. Ruinart also captures the unique character of Chardonnay from the Montagne de Reims. Precision, care and diligence are brought together with premium fruit and prolonged ageing in the 250-year-old underground chalk crayeres. Ruinart wines embody a richness and complexity that is deftly combined with a distinct elegance and finesse.

4 Rue des Crayeres, Reims. +33 3 26 77 51 51

The Wines

The wines of Ruinart are full-flavoured, generous, smooth, delicate and elegant. They express a unique Chardonnay character. 

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV

100% Chardonnay. 20-25% reserve wines from the previous two years. This wine was added to the range in 2001, and has since become the most representative of the house style. It accounts for about 20% of total production. The cuvee is a blend of fruit from 20 villages (primarily Premier Cru), with the majority of grapes coming from the Montagne de Reims and Cote des Blancs imparting intensely exotic aromatics including jasmine, white peach and pink peppercorns. Dosage 9g/L.

‘R’ de Ruinart Brut NV

40% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir and 11% Meunier. Reserve wines from the previous two years make up 20-25% of the blend. Vinified in stainless steel, the wine goes through full malolactic fermentation and has a dosage of 9g/L.

Ruinart Rose NV

45% Chardonnay (mostly from Premier Cru sites), 55% Pinot Noir of which about 18% is made into still red wine. The grapes are hand picked, fermented in stainless steel and are blended with 20-25% reserve wines. The wine goes through full malolactic fermentation and has a dosage of 9g/L.

Dom Ruinart Vintage

100% Grand Cru Chardonnay. This prestige vintage Blanc de Blancs cuvee was first produced in 1959 (and released in 1967) and is named after the uncle of Ruinart’s founder, Dom Thierry Ruinart, who was the inspiration for the formation of the house. This is the prized gem of the Ruinart collection. Over 60% of the Chardonnay comes from vineyards in the Cotes de Blancs (primarily Chouilly, le Mesnil and Avize) with the remaining fruit from the Montagne de Reims (mainly Sillery and Puisieulx). Primary fermentation is in stainless steel, and the dosage is 4.5g/L.

Dom Ruinart Rose Vintage

Around 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir made into red wine (the blend varies according to the vintage).  Around 70% of the Chardonnay comes from the Cote des Blancs (Avize, Cramant, Le Mesnil), and the remainder from the Montagne de Reims (Puisieulx and Sillery). The Pinot Noir comes exclusively from Sillery. The cellar master vinifies the Pinot Noir, not looking for colour or tannins, but for aroma, so the wine retains a delicate colour with incredible aromatics. This exceptional rose exhibits a complexity and finesse that keeps it ranked among the best in Champagne. Dosage 4.5g/L.

Vineyards and Winemaking

Ruinart owns 17 hectares of grapes in the Montagne de Reims areas of Sillery and Verzenay, which are planted with Chardonnay. These holdings account for about 20% of their production. The rest is purchased from growers in the Montagne de Reims, and the Cote des Blancs.

Chardonnay embodies the spirit of Ruinart. Interestingly, unlike other Chardonnay-focused houses, Ruinart doesn’t rely solely on fruit from the Cote des Blancs. They include the best Chardonnay from the Montagne de Reims, which contributes to the unforgettable Ruinart style.

Extended ageing of the wines is not uncommon at Ruinart, and their impressive crayeres are the perfect location for the wines to mature. Ruinart acquired these former Gallo Roman chalk quarries - which were hollowed out by hand - and transformed them into cellars. The crayeres reach a depth of 38 meters below Reims and cover three stories, containing 8 kilometers of galleries in total. The site was classified as an historical monument in 1931.

The Chef de Cave who brings these classic wines to life is Frederic Panaiotis. Frederic, who spent three years working in Mendocino in California, moved to Ruinart from Veuve Clicquot. He is a font of information and can rattle off facts and figures about soils and vintages. He’s also especially accomplished in creating exceptional food and wine pairings, a talent he claims is due to his interest in different cultures. For him, comprehension of languages is the best tool for this appropriation, and to that end he is currently studying Mandarin. When speaking about his work, Frederic says he does not make Champagne, but instead declares that “putting smiles on people’s faces is my job.”

History of the House

On September 1st 1729, Ruinart, the very first Champagne house, was founded by Nicolas Ruinart. In doing so, this intrepid entrepreneur realised the dreams of his late uncle, Dom Thierry Ruinart.

A Benedictine monk, gifted theologian and contemporary of Dom Perignon, Dom Ruinart spent time in Paris and travelled throughout France visiting Versailles and other royal courts. During his journeys, he reserved a great deal of interest for the sparkling wines from Champagne. He predicted these wines would become commercial sensations, attracting an audience of affluent bon vivants.

These visions were shared with his nephew, Nicolas Ruinart, who at the time owned a drapery selling fabric and cloth. Having initially created ‘wine with bubbles’ to gift to his fabric clients, Nicolas soon understood the potential for these sparkling wines. He deserted the fabric trade to pursue a life and career amongst the wines of Champagne.  In 1729, twenty years after the death of his uncle, Nicolas started his first account ledger devoted to ‘wine with bubbles’, which is seen today as the birth certificate of the first Champagne House.

Other than Dom Ruinart’s vision and Nicolas’ entrepreneurial passion, there was another important commercial development. Until this time, wine had only been transported in casks as the bottles were too fragile to travel. But in 1728, Louis XV issued a royal decree permitting the transport of wine in the now sturdier bottles – this opened the door for export around Europe.

Nicolas Ruinart wasted no time in taking advantage of this new ruling. He soon began traveling and introducing his wines to other countries. Along the way, he established some groundbreaking ideas that moulded the industry. Ruinart was the first to ship rose Champagne in 1764, and the first to transport bottles in wooden boxes in 1769.

The house remained in family hands until the middle of the 20th century. After a short possession by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Ruinart was sold to Moet & Chandon in 1963 and became part of the luxury group, LVMH.