Dom Ruinart by Richard Juhlin
According to a variety of sources, the monk Dom Ruinart had almost the same significance during his lifetime as his good friend Dom Pérignon, the man who was described long afterwards as the father of champagne. Thierry Ruinart (1657-1709), a Benedictine monk from Reims, provided his nephew Nicolas Ruinart with sufficient knowledge to be able to establish the first Champagne House in 1729. The company soon became successful on widely varied export markets, and it was frequently visited on account of its deep, exceptionally beautiful limestone cellars, today classed as a historical monument. Deep down in these cellars, several of the world’s foremost sommeliers competed in the prestige-filled contest Trophée Ruinart.
It was not until as recently as 1959 that the House made its first prestige champagne which logically enough was a blanc de blancs from the company’s own grand cru vineyards, presented in an old-fashioned, broad-beamed bottle with a narrow neck, practically identical to those used by the monks. The fantastic Dom Ruinart and Dom Ruinart Rosé wines are made in an antioxidative (reductive) style, and their basic wine is the same as that in the cuvée. The red wine additive of about 15% Pinot Noir comes from their own vineyards at Sillery and Verzenay as well as the unknown grand cru village Puisieulx in Montagne de Reims. The thing that makes Dom Ruinart different from for example Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne and other high class multi-cru blanc de blancs, such as Pol Roger, Billecart-Salmon and Roederer Blanc de Blancs, is that apart from its basic wine from grand cru villages in the Côte des Blancs, a fairly high proportion of Chardonnay from Pinot villages has also been included. Of these villages, Sillery with its tough, smoky minerality and well-structured body stands for the lion’s share. This makes Dom Ruinart unique and personal. Apart from this fact, it should be noted that since they have been incorporated into the LVMH group, the same yeast is being used as in Dom Pérignon, which is a logical part of the explanation as to why Dom Ruinart is considered by certain people as being a Dom Pérignon Blanc de Blancs, which is a thing that they are naturally not striving for but that has also been my conclusion in a number of blind tastings. An interesting detail is that the young winemaker Fred Panaiotis comes from Veuve Clicquot where it was prophesied that he would be Jacques Peter’s successor, before the plans were suddenly changed. Veuve Clicquot’s house style is quite different from that represented by Ruinart.
The main difference is that Clicquot’s masculinely powerful style is purposely oxidative. The readjustment for Fred was great and dramatic, but it feels as though he, as one of the most talented winemakers I’ve met, has very quickly found his way style-wise. Fred is incredibly open to impulses, and he learns new things in a flash. I myself tasted quite a lot of Dom Ruinart with him during his first months at the House, and carried on deep analytical discussions based on my great tasting experience, so that he would be able to understand as rapidly as possible what a great, classical Dom Ruinart should be like. This is the kind of thing that only he who wants to be best will do, not leaving anything to chance! Fred is trying to express purity and minerality by blending the most elegant Chardonnay from the Côtes des Blancs with the more powerful version of the same type of grape from the northern Montagne de Reims. He sees the rosé version as a blanc de blancs rosé that offers a unique and paradoxical complexity through its long storage, a complexity in which the nose is distinctly reminiscent of a great red Burgundy, interwoven with an unbelievably pure and invigorating taste.
For those of you who enjoy elegant champagne with chalky minerality, citrus aroma and stringent acids backed up by a toasted character reminiscent of Charles Heidsieck, Belle Epoque and Dom Pérignon, Dom Ruinart Blanc is going to be a big favourite. For those of you who love the most feminine of the Burgundy red wines such as Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses from Roumier or Griotte-Chambertin from Ponsot, while not having anything against gentle creamy silkiness and a splash of champagne bubbles inflated with minerality, a twenty year old Dom Ruinart Rosé should be a heavenly experience. Champagne Magazine/ Richard Juhlin