AT A GLANCE:
Position: No 46
Name of wine estate: Ruinart
Wine region: Champagne
Standout points: Multi-sensory immersive dining experiences, UNESCO Heritage Crayères cellars
Winemaker: Frédéric Panaïotis
Wine style: Chardonnay-based traditional-method sparkling
The original maison de Champagne
The oldest Champagne house of them all, Ruinart was founded in Reims in 1729. A look around the stately Ruinart headquarters, located on the Rue des Crayeres, provide some big clues about the house’s long history. One of the buildings is, in fact, a former textile warehouse (now converted and looking very much more palatial). Nicolas Ruinart was a draper by trade, when he founded his Champagne house. He was inspired by his uncle, Dom Ruinart, a Benedictine monk, who had told him of the interesting experienents in effervescence being carried out by a certain Dom Pérignon.
An industry is born
Nicolas launched his sparkling Champagne in 1730, originally offering his wines as a gift to his biggest cloth customers and building an ever-increasing customer base around Europe (the original 18th-century ledgers are preserved at Ruinart HQ by the house’s in-house historian). Such was his success in the new field of sparkling wine that he was able to give up his draper business and the rest, as they say, is history.
Chalk it up
This fascinating story of Champagne’s origins and more will be revealed to you via expert-guided tours (NB: specify in advance if you would prefer it in English) of the magnificent underground Crayères chalk cellars – a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2015. Tours of these labyrinthine Gallo-Roman cellars will transport you to another world, made all the more enjoyable by a tasting of two Ruinart Champagne cuvées.
A Chardonnay specialist
Chardonnay forms the focus at Ruinart. Chef de caves Frédéric Panaïotis explains that this variety contributes a certain aromatic freshness and creaminess which defines the Ruinart house style. A guided tasting of Ruinart’s blanc de blancs Champagnes – from the standard non-vintage cuvée right up to the icon Dom Ruinart – is the perfect opportunity to get to grips with this style. For the complete Ruinart indulgence, why not book The Ruinart Gastronomic Experience, which combines a visit to the Crayères cellars with a sumptuous five-course meal prepared by Ruinart’s executive chef, with food pairing designed to sing alongside Ruinart’s various Champagne cuvées.