The final stop on our little Champagne expedition was to Ruinart. I felt a little bit sorry for them, by the time we arrived we’d been at Krug in the morning – which is hard enough for anyone to follow but we’d also been around cellars all week, tasted a lot of Champagne and were pretty tired by the time we arrived.
We’d walked from Krug down to Ruinart, me in the new shoes I’d been wearing all week with blisters now all over my feet, I was nearly ready to drop when we arrived. If Ruinart was going to impress us then it was really going to have to go some.
We started in the modern cellars one floor below ground level and had a little of a sinking feeling as we saw wide modern, concrete galleries with nothing much to recommend them but then we came to the top of a flight of slightly dodgy looking chalk stairs hewn from the rock. Down we went to appear in a beautifully lit chalk mine from hundreds (and hundreds of years ago.
These historic mines are quite magnificent and are really worth visiting in their own right, three houses share the cellars (their are walls separating them), in the picture above Charles Heidsieck are just behind that brick wall. Veuve Clicquot are the others with impressive cellars like this. I had visited Veuve Clicquot as a tourist in 2002 (my first ever winery tour!) and on that tour hadn’t really seen much underground apart from miles of corridor.
Ruinart is the oldest Chamapagne House (with a nod to the older Gosset who haven’t been making Champagne as long) and yet remain far less on the the general public in the UK’s radar than the other brands owned by LVMH (with the possible exception of Mercier which is (I think still) the biggest selling Champagne in France and so doesn’t really need to try in the UK!).
Ruinart’s wines come from a majority of vineyards on the Montagne de Reims and even some further north around the city itself. This is usually Pinot country but Ruinart also have Chardonnay from here which gives the wines added body and concentration.
Onto the wines….
R de Ruinart Brut NV
40% Chardonnay, 54 % Pinot Noir, 6% Pinot Meunier from a base of 2009 with 25-30% reserve wines.
Pale gold, lovely perfumed nose, floral, honeysuckle and rich buttery aromas. Really fine persistent mousse and long in the mouth this has some quite mature notes. It’s very approachable, soft broad and open it finishes long. Overall this is a very drinkable, (possibly too drinkable) Champagne. 89 points
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV
Very pale gold with a slight green tinge, lots of fresh citrus, green apple, white peach and mineral notes. This is linear, focussed and a much more precise wine than the ‘R’. It is still quite fruit forward, ripe and generous with a softness to the good acidity. It lacks some of the tension of a pure Cotes de Blancs but instead replaces it with out and out drinkability. 92 points
Dom Ruinart Brut 2002
A blancs de blancs made from 100% Grand Cru villages 72% of them from the Cotes de Blancs andd 28% from the Montagne de Reims.
Very intense nose showing some lovely maturity it is incredibly complex with lots of the verve and almost nervous energy you find in the best Chardonnay from the Cotes de Blancs but with some richness, some buttery and mineral notes. It’s very precise and elegant with plenty of body. A serious wine – it comes across as a very ‘winey’ Champagne if you understand what I mean? Deep and quite profound. 95 points
Ruinart Rose NV
A profound salmon colour with lovely sweet redcurrant and strawberry aromas. Fresh quite rounded and approachable. Lovely freshness with some riper fruit this is a generous very appealing rose which is perfumed concentrated and focussed. 90 points
Dom Ruinart Rose 2002
Coral in colour this is much less immediately fruity. Drier in style too this feels really quite closed at present. Huge amounts of concentration though and showing lots and lots of potential it is really long and along with the bright red fruit character is showing some coffee and mocha notes. It does feel a little reductive at present and possibly a little sulphury. 91 points
Dom Ruinart 1998
Because we weren’t entirely happy with the state of the 2002 rose our host opened a bottle of the 1998 (she wasn’t happy with it either!). This was very very expressive with lots of really concentrated fruit and comes across as being very fine. Tobacco, balsamic and more mature aged character I really really loved this wine. Pretty special in my book and probably the best pink wine I’ve tasted. 96 points.
That marks the end of the Champagne adventure. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. (We did). I hope to get back again at some stage, and likewise hope to continue expanding my Champagne and other sparkling wine tasting (and actually take some notes!) over the next year – we will see what 2015 holds.
Photos by Jon Marlow http://www.marlow.me.uk