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Both Ashley and I thought our visit to Ruinart was our favorite “experience” while in Champagne.

Before I delve into the mundane details of our visit at Ruinart, I must quickly give a shout-out to Mr. Jiles Halling, and his wife, Yvonne, who welcomed Ashley and I to their B&B during our stay in Champagne. The Halling’s B&B is located in the sleepy little village of Verzy, smack dab in-between Reims and Epernay. Without Jiles’ assistance, Ashley and I likely would not have been able to taste at either H. Billiot or Vilmart (short write-up on those tastings will be in a separate thread). The accomodations at the Halling’s B&B were by far the best accommodations Ashley and I experienced while in France (while also being amongst the cheapest!), and I cannot recommend them enough to anyone who may find themselves visiting the region. Both Jiles and Yvonne are extremely nice, interesting, and engaging company. Jiles can easily be contacted via Wine Berserkers. The next time Ashley and I are in the region, we won’t even think about staying anywhere else. Thanks, Jiles!

... and, now, back to our regularly scheduled program ---- the Ruinart experience ...

A few quick notes about Ruinart (if you just want the TN’s, those can be found below):
- Ruinart was the first champagne house, and the first bottles were produced in very small amounts, and were only used as free gifts to the especially good customers of the Ruinart’s drapery business.
- Some of Ruinart’s chalk caves go back to the Roman Empire (3rd century), and they are now considered a historic site, which is why many of them have been reinforced with steel bars. These caves were used as offices during the first World War, even though some of the deepest rooms had a proclivity for taking-on water.
- Some portions of the caves are rather far underground: There are 139 steps from the top of the caves to the bottom!
- Ruinart does not use any Pinot Meunier in their wines because they prefer to make longer-aging wines, as allowed by the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties.
- All grapes are picked by hand, and are pressed in the villages and brought back to the house where they are put into steel tanks for fermentation.
- Ruinart’s NV wines are blends of 20 different vineyards, which cover 15 hectares.
- All of Ruinart’s wines have a little r.s. (6 - 10 g/L)

[u]The tasting notes:[/u]

  • N.V. Ruinart Champagne Blanc de Blancs - France, Champagne (10/20/2010)
    – popped and poured –
    – tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 45 minutes –

    NOSE: lighter fruits than their N.V. Rose; white/yellow fruits; toast; fruitier than the 1998 Dom Ruinart BdB; reminds me a lot of a Grenache Blanc; chamomile.

    BODY: medium-light bodied; very pale green-yellow color; loose bead.

    TASTE: rich, yet elegant; pretty dry; slight bready-ness; not very complex, but very enjoyable.

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  • N.V. Ruinart Champagne Brut Rosé - France, Champagne (10/20/2010)
    – popped and poured –
    – tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 45 min. –
    – 48% Chardonnay, 55% Pinot Noir –

    NOSE: light strawberry and chalk on the tight nose; smells slightly sweet.

    BODY: slight salmon color; medium-light bodied, but a bit heavier than the N.V. BdB

    TASTE: quite lively; strawberry, with notes of mineral and earth; a bit warm in the belly. 18% of the Pinot Noir used in this wine is vinified as a still Pinot.

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  • 1998 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru - France, Champagne (10/20/2010)
    – popped and poured –
    – tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 45 minutes –

    NOSE: white fish; beeswax; bready – moreso than the N.V. BdB.

    BODY: golden green-yellow color; medium bodied.

    TASTE: intensely flavored; deeper bready flavors than the N.V. BdB; honeyed; round mouthfeel. The grapes for this wine come from 5 or 6 different Grand Cru vineyards, 1/3 of which come from the Reims Mtns. region, and 2/3 of which come from the Cote de Blanc (aka: “Chardonnay belt”). Very nice.

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  • 1996 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé Grand Cru - France, Champagne (10/20/2010)
    – popped and poured –
    – tasted a single glass non-blind over approx. 45 minutes –
    – 84% Chardonnay, 16% Pinot Noir –

    NOSE: ridiculously complex and expressive Nose of leather, spice, orange oil, and a hint of diesel. The most beguiling Nose I’ve encountered in my limited experience of tasting Champagne.

    BODY: orange-salmon color (raw salmon); medium bodied.

    TASTE: complex flavors: leather; a hint of moldy cheese; earthy; not nearly as sweet as the N.V. Rose; a bit funky; raspberry; long finish. Easily the best Rose I’ve tasted (of the few I’ve had), and possibly the best Champagne I’ve ever had. Super delicious --- retail price is a major bummer, though. All the Pinot Noir in this wine was vinified as still Pinot, which is perhaps why this seemed to come across more like a still Pinot than as a Champagne. What really amazed me was the fact that this wine is 84% Chardonnay!

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