An exceptional experience is waiting for us at Ruinart. We are in front of the door that opens to 4, Crayères Road in Reims. Once we are in, we’ll be walking through the trees and seeing the statue of Dom Ruinart at the end of the road.
Dom Thierry Ruinart was a Benedictine monk who lived between 1657 and 1709. His interest in oenology and his visionary insights, he was able to foresee that the “wine with bubbles” will have a bright future. Therefore, he passed his vast oenology knowledge to his nephew, Nicolas Ruinart, who later founded Ruinart champagne house. House of Ruinart was established in 1729, currently being two hundred and ninety years old, which makes it the oldest champagne house. Ruinart is counting down the days to celebrate its three-hundredth anniversary in September 2029.
The visits at Ruinart are done for small groups, with a guide who walks through all the facilities, and offers a private tasting. We were a group of six and our guide was so knowledgeable and answered all our detailed questions about the history of the house and the wines.
The tour starts at thirty eight meters underground, to visit the crayères – chalk caves, classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2015. These chalk caves were originally carved as quarries, and it’s still able to be seen in the special architecture for this purpose.
Continuing our route at the caves, we saw champagne bottles stacked with the manual traditional method. At first glance, it looks like a wall made from champagne bottles, they are perfectly lined. So much expertise is required to be able to build this wall, along with a lot of patience to line the bottles one by one in their place. Our guide explained to us that thousands of bottles are lined without any problems as the conditions in the cellar allow them to have perfect state of temperature and pressure.
Following, we arrived at the most impressive view one can see in a cellar. It’s necessary to stop and capture this mesmerizing view, and then, walk down and descend even deeper. The riddling tables at the bottom were full of bottles with the lees on them, which are the yeast cells that finished their duty of second fermentation in bottles. At this stage, the lees is sliding down towards the neck of the bottle until all the particles are collected at the closure to be taken out.
Going out from the caves brought us to real life was like a transition. There is something special about this place that makes the visit even more impressive. The moist and cool air, the duskiness, or probably the combination of all these to reinforce the deep history of these caves. The upper part of the house is decorated modernly, and there were very interesting pieces of art in the exhibition.
The last part of the visit was the tasting of four different champagnes of Ruinart. We have started with Blanc de Blancs of Ruinart, which is the emblematic champagne of this house. It’s made with Chardonnay grapes mostly harvested from Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims terroirs. As in Champagne appellation it’s allowed to use reserve wines (wines from previous vintages), in this blend 20 – 25 % of reserve wine is used. This reserve wine addition to the blend, helps the champagne houses to keep their style and unique taste signature that they have. We also get to taste Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc of the 2006 vintage. The first vintage of Dom Ruinart dates back to 1959 and since then it’s produced only in the exceptional vintages.
The tasting continued with the rosés, both non-vintage and Dom Ruinart vintage 2004 rosé. The difference in color is worth seeing, non-vintage being more in the pink scale while Dom Ruinart in the salmon scale with the effect of longer aging.
Visit to Ruinart has it all. It’s an unforgettable experience with full of emotions that feed the interests in history, tradition, culture, art and wine.
All images © 2019 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.