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THE OPTIMUM TEMPERATURE
Since sparkling wines from Champagne first appeared in the early XVIIIth Century, they have been drunk fairly cold, between 6 and 8 degrees. So for over a century, bottles of Ruinart have been served in elegant little containers called "champagne coolers" or in silver or porcelain buckets that are always full of water and ice. The ice was collected during the winter and stored in ice cellars.
Around 1830, it became fashionable to drink champagne frappé: very cold, at 2 or 3 degrees. This was a time when wine had a lot of sugar added, which did not ferment, and cooling toned down its sweet flavour. The bottle was served in a bucket filled with ice but no water, sometimes even plunged up to its neck in a mixture of crushed iced and potash or salts. Today, we have returned to the customs of early champagne enthusiasts and enjoy our champagne at between 6 and 9 degrees.
As a guide:
"R" de Ruinart, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Ruinart Rosé should be opened at a temperature of between 6 and 8 degrees so that it can be drunk at between 8 and 10 degrees. A vintage Ruinart should be opened at between 8 and 10 degrees and drunk at between 10 and 12. Dom Ruinart Blanc: opened at between 9 and 11 degrees and drunk at between 11 and 13. Dom Ruinart Rosé: opened at between 9 and 12 degrees and drunk at between 11 and 14.
These guidelines can be adapted to the circumstances. On a terrace in summer, a flute of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs will naturally be served very cold. Time and preference will guide the decision...
Dom Ruinart cuvées: The origin of their grapes, exclusively Grand Crus, gives these cuvées, a high maturing potential provided that they are aged in optimum conditions of temperature, humidity and darkness, 10, 20 years or more depending on the vintage.
The wine will then take on more toasted, grilled and intense notes and its aromatic profile will develop as the years pass. This is a question of preference. Without exception, a Dom Ruinart cuvée is excellent from the day it is purchased.
The chardonnay is the very soul of Ruinart. The grape, mainly harvested from the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims terroirs, is at the heart of all our cuvées.
The ephemeral, delicate structure of this vintage combined with outstanding freshness, typical of the House, offers the potential to complement very sophisticated dishes such as sea bream ceviche Peruvian style, or a lobster carpaccio with lemon caviar and coriander oil.
Dom Ruinart 2004 is made entirely of chardonnay Grands Crus: 69% from the Côte des Blancs (predominantly from Chouilly, Avize and Le Mesnil) and 31% from the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims (predominantly Sillery and Puisieulx). This is a perfect combination giving this vintage its ephemeral, delicate structure.
This vintage’s nose reveals the sweet, gentle notes of chestnut, coconut and fresh bread. This biscuity side to the wine very quickly gives way to the aromas of flowers (iris, lily-of-the-valley and the flowers of Seville orange trees) and citrus fruits (bergamot and citron). Just beneath the surface several mineral (wet rock and flint) and iodised saline notes make their appearance.
On the palate this vintage is initially direct but silky, sustained by mineral notes.The ephemeral nature of the Dom Ruinart 2004 is then revealed through citrus fruit freshness with touches of gentian. The very long finish is characterised by grapefruit and kumquat zest notes with just the slightest hints of salinity.
A great example of how large yields do not necessarily mean poor quality in Champagne. As a reaction to the previous year's low yields, the vines produced one of the largest crops on record. The growing season proceeded without major difficulties but the bumper crop called for bud thinning. August brought about cooler weather and some rains, increasing the risk of rot. The massive crop, averaging 13,990 kg/ha, was picked from September 18th onwards. The quality was a pleasant surprise; vibrant wines with appropriate intensity, refined charm and refreshing lightness. This vintage impresses me more and more, and I feel tempted to give it the full five stars. It comes with a rare balance of freshness, lightness, yet fine aromatic intensity. Post-release, this vintage has proven to be slow to age, and elegant wines are likely to keep on ageing gracefully. Dom Pérignon and Louis Roederer Cristal both excelled.