What better way to begin a blog than with a celebration of a new favorite wine. The non-vintage Ruinart Blanc de Blanc is a stunner. I’ve never been so excited by a Champagne.
As this is my first entry, I’ll give you some background info. I never thought much of the idea of working with wine or food. I took restaurant jobs that were supposed to tide me over until I found some elusive passion. It never crossed my mind that waiting tables would lead me to that enterprise. During a staff training three years ago, my boss gave us a taste of the 2002 Adrian Fog Pinot Noir from the Savoy Vineyard in Mendocino. It was a revelation; the most profound sensory experience of my life. I have been immersed in wine ever since.
Now I’m working in a retail shop. Every day the local distributor reps bring wines by for us to taste and decide if we want to carry them in the store. The other day, one of these reps brought the Ruinart and a Frenchman named Roc Hennessy. I was surprised that someone from such a prestigious background would be out selling his wares. He turned out to be one of the nicest people I’ve met in the wine business. I took the opportunity to talk to him about LVMH.
Hennessy is one of the better known brandies from Cognac. Over the past twenty years, Hennessy has merged with Moet & Chandon and Louis Vuitton to create the luxury goods group LVMH. The holdings of the group have increased significantly since the merger. Aside from wines and spirits, they have controlling interests in Christian Dior, TAG Heuer, Fendi, Donna Karan and a bunch of other names I didn’t recognize that I’m sure make very expensive things. The quality level of the company’s wine holdings is staggering. In Champagne they control Moet & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Ruinart and Krug, which I along with many others regard to be the epitome of sparkling wine. They have Chateau d’Yquem of Sauternes, often called the world’s best wine, and Chateau Cheval Blanc, whose 1947 is the most acclaimed wine of the 20th century. Two months ago they acquired Numanthia, one of Spain’s best bodegas.
Usually when a fine product is acquired by a larger company, one expects the quality to decrease. In the case of LVMH, the commitment to quality takes such priority that it is not a concern. The influx of capital that the group brings typically results in a quality rise.
It’s my understanding that Ruinart is currently being reintroduced to the American market, hence Roc’s presence in the country and my opportunity to taste it. It has everything you look for in a great blanc de blanc. The color was a pale gold and the bubbles were extremely fine. The nose was delicate, but complex. When I smelled it, I knew it was going to be good, but the quality of the palate still caught me off guard. It was precise and focused. It massaged every crevice in my mouth. Undoubtedly the best Champagne I’ve had under $100,(it retails for $70) and certainly in my top ten overall. Thus far it is the wine of the year for 2008.
It may be difficult to come by at the moment. We are waiting for more to return to the distributor before we can start selling it. If you are looking to find it, let your local retailer know its part of LVMH to ease their search.