Champagne Ruinart returns to U.S.

By Darryl Beeson

“In the name of God and the Holy Virgin shall this book be opened…” These words, written by Nicolas Ruinart on the 1st of September, 1729, announced that the House of Ruinart was officially established, the first Champagne house. A true entrepreneur, Nicolas Ruinart fulfilled the ambition of his uncle, the Benedictine monk Dom Thierry Ruinart, to make Ruinart the premier champagne house. The great news is that Ruinart is again available in the United States.

Ruinart, the Champagne, was first introduced into the U.S. market in 1831 by family member Viscount Edmond Ruinart. Realizing that fashionable trends, both in France and America, start at the top, the Viscount Ruinart spent valuable time discussing the house’s merits with President Andrew Jackson. News of the meeting spread. Ruinart Champagne soon became available in America’s best restaurants and most elegant affairs.

The signature of the Ruinart style is the Chardonnay grape. The various grape sources, 100% Premier Cru, are blended with finesse. The house also crafts a sophisticated Ruinart Rose, with the inclusion of Pinot Noir, also Premier Cru. The nose is bold with complexity from the yeast cells, sealed within the aging bottle, being prepared for future release. The complexity awaits for when you pop the cork from your special bottle, secure in hand.

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs (around $50 retail) is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs is smooth and rounded on the palate. It is a balanced wine with a beautiful luminous pale gold color, enhanced by the elegance of the clear bottle. Serve this crisp bubbly as a summer aperitif, sipped by the pool or on a sunny terrace. At the table, pair with a light, delicate dish such as grilled sole, roasted veal in a citrus based sauce, or with freshly shucked oysters. Consider lean and rich crab cakes in a rich, spicy, egg-based sauce.

Ruinart Rosé (around $75 retail), is a fine, elegant champagne with the distinctive Ruinart taste due to a high concentration of Chardonnay grapes. A pinkish gold color, followed by a smooth, balanced, fruity wine with plenty of body,this is an ideal evening aperitif. At table the finesse of this champagne will go wonderfully with the freshness of a delicious Andalusian gazpacho or with refined filet of veal in lemon and caper sauce, or with delicate crab and mushroom crepes. The Champagne house suggests pigeon or poultry or red fruits Genoise.

Produced only in finest years and always a vintage Champagne, Dom Ruinart (prices are to be newly established in the U.S.) is a blend of wines made exclusively from the Chardonnay grape. A surprising gold color with infinite reflections, this wine reveals on the palate all the finesse of the Chardonnays from the Champagne region. When consumed young, this great wine goes superbly with fine, delicate dishes such as a lobster salad with parmesan shavings. After a certain ageing period, it is delicious with a wild mushroom risotto. Also consider roasted chicken with fresh herbs under the browned skin, and citrus squeezed on the finished dish.

Champagnes are at perfect maturity and are ready for immediate tasting. You can keep these Champagnes in the “fridge” for a few days before their serving time, but never in the freezer to accelerate the chilling process as too low a temperature will kill the aromas. These Champagnes can however age for a few years, ideally in a cellar. It is particularly true for Dom Ruinart, which will slowly mature from one year to the next by taking on characteristics of an old white Burgundy, characteristics that connoisseurs might love to accompany a great meal or at the end of an evening, even better.

- January 2006
Darryl Beeson reports on great wine values. He has been wine steward or cellar master for The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Voltaire, and The Adolphus Hotel.