Established in 1729, Ruinart has the distinction of being the oldest Champagne house. Founded by wealthy cloth merchant Nicolas Ruinart who was inspired by his uncle the benedictine monk Dom Thierry Ruinart, a close friend and contemporary of Dom Perignon. Initially the champagne produced was given away to Nicolas's wealthy clients as a reward for purchasing his cloth and fabrics, however when the demand became so great, it was clear what direction the company was to take. In 1735 they abandoned the cloth trade, to concentrate on the burgeoning champagne trade.
If ever visiting Champagne the cellars of Ruinart are a must. They were the first house to utilise the ancient Roman chalk pits (crayeres) to mature and age their champagnes. With the oldest dating from the 3rd.century, the 24 roman pits extend for 8 kilometres and up to 34 metres deep, these white, cathedral-like tunnels offer the ideal conditions for fermenting and maturing Champagne. In 1931 they became the only cellars to be declared a national monument.
Surprisingly Ruinart is a Chardonnay dominant house. Chardonnay is the least planted of the three key varieties in Champagne and can often be one of the most difficult to source. Ruinart own just 10% of their vineyards but have long standing contracts to help meet their requirements. It can be a delicate and fragile variety, however it is the golden thread that runs through all of Ruinart's cuvées. Sourcing Chardonnay from the Montagne de Reims in particular from the villages of Sillery and Puisieulx, provide extra depth, dimension and roundness to the wines. While the Chardonnay sourced from the greatest sites of the Cote des Blancs add a mineral elegance and intensity. It is the judicious blending of these different areas that help to make the greatest expressions of Blanc de Blancs in both the non-vintage and prestige 'Dom Ruinart' cuvées. (Even the flagship 'Dom Ruinart Rose' consists of 85% grand cru Chardonnay with just a 15% addition of still Pinot Noir to provide colour.)
The key to the house style or unique 'Ruinart Taste' is brightness, intensity and elegance. For this end to be achieved requires the most careful of handling, using the most delicate of presses, fermentation only in stainless steel and the protection by inert gases against oxygen. Chef de Cave, Frédéric Panaïotis described his methods as the antithesis of the Krug or Bollinger styles seeking instead 'fresh aromas, vivacity, purity and luminosity'. It is the essence that has made Ruinart one of the benchmarks for Chardonnay. However, to achieve aromatic richness and depth of flavour requires long ageing in the cellars which is why Ruinart's non-vintage blends will receive a minimum of 3 years, while the Dom Ruinart will be aged for 9-10 years.
All wines go through full malo-lactic fermentation with a high percentage of reserve wines used in the non-vintage blends. The level of dosage has been gradually reduced over the years as part of their ongoing commitment to producing the highest quality Champagnes possible.