Champagne Ruinart, as the first established Champagne house in 1729, is quite unique. The House was founded by Nicolas Ruinart whose uncle, a Benedictine monk, Dom Thierry Ruinart had an intuition. He felt that the new “wine with bubbles”, developed in his native Champagne was promised a bright future. This was one year after a Royal Decree in 1728 whereby Louis XV gave his consent for sparkling wines to be shipped. In the mid-18th century, Ruinart acquired chalk quarries just outside of Reims. It is now the very well-known Crayères classified as a historical monument by the UNESCO in 1931. Frédéric Panaïotis is the cellar master since 2007 and it is under the shade of the LVMH group that Ruinart has developed its very own style and personality famous for its Blanc de Blancs, with its distinctive and quite beautiful bottle shape.
After crossing the house’s lobby and art room we took the dim-lighted stairs downward towards the poetic chalk cellars stretching 8 kilometers in length. In comparison to the manicured garden and very luxurious buildings upstairs, the caves had a rough life, with the harsh marks of picks and chisels still visible in spots, intricate marks, scribbles and engravings from World War I, when locals hid in these humid cache when Reims was nearly razed by German shelling. Of course, along those scars, there are stored bottles, ocean worth of dormant Champagne just waiting to be ready. One of the recent decision of Mister Panaïotis was to reinstate traditional corks with the metal clamp for all of the Dom Ruinart bottles. Changes has yet to be seen in the final products, but the idea is to get a more rustic feel to the elaborate and extended ageing.