Tag Archives: Ruinart

When Only The Best Champagne Will Do: Six Prestige Cuvées To Drink Now

Champagne Bar Cart. (Photo by Lauren Mowery)

If you missed my article in Forbes last week, I’ve reposted it here…

Luxury Champagne deserves to be drunk on more occasions than milestone celebrations; at the very least, it complements tragedies equally well, if not better. Consider the notoriously depressing events that have defined 2016. Even if you achieved personal bests in health, love, or money, regarding the collective we can agree the year unfolded like a Cormac McCarthy novel, exacting a psychic toll on the country.

From the deaths of legendary musicians Prince, David Bowie, Phife Dawg, Leonard Cohen; to the passing of wine icons Peter Mondavi, Margrit Mondavi, Mary Novak, Paul Pontallier; to the ceaseless loop of negative election coverage that failed to end with the election. Brexit, Ryan Lochte, Harambe, the Syrian refugee crisis, Zika, heat records, massive flooding, and Trump’s tweets. Even the year’s most acclaimed film stars an Affleck brother plumbing the depths of Manchester’s saddest janitor. And who knows what December surprise looms ahead. So, I suggest popping corks and putting this broken year out of its misery one month ahead of schedule, and the only wine with the gravitas to pair to the tragicomedy of 2016 (after all, Alec Baldwin returned), is prestige cuvée Champagne.

While no rules define the term prestige, typically these cuvées represent the producer’s best and most expensive bottle; the wine a Champagne house considers its top expression from their finest fruit. This generally entails grand cru grapes from the oldest vines, with extended cellar aging, often with a late disgorgement.

Here are six acme Champagnes to celebrate the end of an outrageous year.

Freshness and Finesse from a Founding Family…

Billecart-Salmon (Photo by Lauren Mowery)

Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas Francois Brut 2002, $200

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Filed under Bollinger, Champagne, Ruinart

Mondays Are Better with Bubbles: Ruinart Champagne and Chef Michelle Bernstein

1998rose

Thinking about Monday on a Sunday tends to induce a range of feelings from anxiety to dread. However, I recently spent a weekend joyously anticipating its conclusion so that come Monday, October 19th, I could spend several hours tasting Ruinart Champagne (tasting, not drinking—it is a Monday, after all). Hosted by Frederic Panaïotis, Chef de Caves at Ruinart, the event was held in a private Greenwich Village loft with renowned Miami Chef Michelle Bernstein orchestrating a beautifully paired lunch.

I have known Ruinart for over a decade, but didn’t realize the brand had only been in the States for the past 6 years (I must’ve been imbibing it in Europe). Considering Ruinart is the oldest Champagne house, established by Nicolas Ruinart in the city of Reims in 1729, and is currently owned by LVMH, it’s hard to believe they have a relatively young presence in our market. And imagine–in 2029, the house will reach 300 years of expertise in the art of Champagne production. Very few wine brands in the world can boast such longevity.

TableSetting

Speaking of art, the house is a great patron of contemporary art and design; for instance, they are the official Champagne of Art Basel. However, Ruinart demonstrates a greater interest in supporting the arts than having “artists” support its wines, particularly whilst gyrating until dawn in a nightclub. The house does not court the baller contingent that has the power to propel brands such as Louis Roeder’s Cristal into becoming a staple reference in hip-hop lyrics and on overpriced bottle service lists. Ruinart’s purported goal is to reach the sophisticated, thoughtful oenophile, which, last I heard, was neither Ke$ha nor the legions of Jay-Z wannabes (although Jay-Z himself has apparently quit Cristal over a case of reverse ‘dis by the brand, which of course depends on whether you view the rap industry’s unique way of embracing the wine, to have been respectful or disrespectful in the first place.)

Michelleinthekitchen

Back to Monday’s lunch. Four wines were presented: NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs in magnum, 2002 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, NV Ruinart Rosé in magnum, and 1998 Dom Ruinart Rosé. Something to note–all Ruinart vintage wines age for 12 years on the lees, followed by at least a year in bottle. The length of ageing shows, producing wines of finesse, intensity of flavor, and fine texture.

Although I had come to Ruinart through their Blanc de Blancs, Chardonnay being the foundation of the house cuvées, and, in their words, “the very soul of Ruinart,” I left smitten with the rosés. The NV is comprised of 45% Chardonnay from the Cotes des Blancs and 55% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. Aside from its red berry perfume, the wine had a beguiling note of dried rose petal that left me sniffing as much as tasting. The 1998 vintage rosé Dom Ruinart displayed very different color and character, as you might expect from a Chardonnay-dominant wine with 14-plus years of age (85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir vinified as red wine). Flavors leaned towards the tart red fruit spectrum with citrus and pink grapefruit on the long finish. A superbly aged but not yet mature wine appropriately paired with a final course of cheese.

Cheeseplate

The friendly and accessible chef, Michelle Bernstein, demonstrated through her dishes how Champagne can be served with every course of a meal. Apparently an enormous fan of Ruinart, she proclaimed “why leave bubbles for special occasions or as an aperitif when they can be paired with everything!” After experiencing lunch with her and her muse Ruinart, I concur.

Below, I have included an image of the menu, shots of the loft and its vintage décor, and, of course, the food.

Menu

Loftandtable Ruinartandcurios Salmoneggandcaviar loftlivingspace

Tablesetting-2 Menunesltedinnapkin Shrimpandpopcornstarter Bowloffigs

Cassouletfoie Champagneandchess Oysterstarter oldradio Loftbar Ruinartbox

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Filed under Champagne, Ruinart