Nothing says love quite like Champagne.
To commemorate Valentine’s Day, I am devoting my entire post to the best of the bubbly stuff. And y’all, when I say Champagne, I mean real Champagne. No Prosecco, Cava or “headache in a bottle” for this girl. It might bubble and fizz like a Champagne, but it’s only a Champagne if it’s from Champagne, France. And one of the shining jewels of Champagne is Ruinart.
A couple of months ago, Chester Cox reached out to me and asked if I was interested in learning more about Ruinart. You might recognize Chester from his five-year run as Fort Worth Magazine’s best wine expert, but he’s also the sommelier and retail wine specialist at Ellerbe Fine Foods. Chester invited me to bring a group of my most favorite peeps to experience a tresspecial, tresexclusive Ruinart Champagne tasting lunch.
Let me just stop this story and give you some advice: If someone offers you and your crew an exclusive lunch featuring one of the world’s most exclusive wines, say yes.
So y’all, that’s exactly what I did! I said yes! So I am going to stop again and say, if this sounds like something you would love to do, you totally can. As you know, Ellerbe is owned by sommelier Richard King and executive chef Molly McCook, but Richard has teamed up with Chester on an amazing wine pairing event venture called White Gloves, Purple Teeth. Molly remains the mastermind behind the food and flavors in the kitchen, but Richard and Chester stand at the ready to direct a decadent evening of oenophilia for groups large and small.
OK, now back to our wine lunch. Jason and I arrived at Ellerbe with eight of our most connoisseur-y friends. This group has literally seen it all, and our jaws all dropped when we saw our elegantly appointed table. Like, Carol, queen of tablescapes, would have been proud.
One more thing I know y’all want to know – how do you pronounce Ruinart? OK, repeat after me: Rwree narrr. And again, but this time pretend you have a stuffed up nose: Rwree narrr. Tres bien!
Once we were seated, Chester introduced us to Jeridan, our tasting guide for our champagne-paired course and the official U.S. Ambassador for Ruinart Champagne.
30 seconds later, the white gold began to flow!
In between bites and sips, I soaked up the back story behind the Ruinart Maison and everything beautiful about the bubbles.
The History of the House
Ruinart, located in the town of Reims, is the oldest established Champagne house in France. Nicolas Ruinart founded it in 1728 right after the King of France decided to allow Champagne to be transported in bottles rather than barrels.
Ruinart was the first Champagne house to cellar its wine in the region’s famous chalk caves, which were dug out by Roman prisoners over 2000 years ago. They’re 125 feet underground and span over five miles – big enough to house Ruinart’s entire production.
Fun fact: It’s not just Arkansas where everything is relative. Nicolas’s uncle, Dom Ruinart, was a Benedictine monk and equal contemporaries with another wine lover, Dom “Donny P” Perignon. They were monks together in the same church, and they are also buried in the same abbey.
Also, Nicholas was the great grandfather of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, better known as the Widow Clicquot, or Veuve Clicquot.
Today, Ruinart is owned by LVMH, which also owns Louis Vuitton. (I knew there was a reason I loved this Champagne!)
We drank a range of wines, including a Blanc de Blanc with our salad and soup course. A Blanc de Blanc is 100 percent pure Chardonnay. (And it’s also 100 percent pure vegan! Win!)
Their Chardonnay is the finest in the region sourcing Premier and Grand Cru fruit from our estate own vineyard in Sillery in the Montagne de Reims along with the vineyards in the Côte des Blancs.
We also sampled the Tête de cuvee Ruinarts Vintage Champagne while dining on our main courses.
Another fun fact: Ruinart was not just the first Champagne house, they were also the first to make rose, way back in 1764. We sipped Dom Ruinart Rosé, which is an amazing balance of Chardonnay & Pinot Noir while we enjoyed Chef Molly’s amazing third course.
You may be thinking, Christy, it’s great that you were drinking the good stuff, but what in the wine cork could you eat? Turns out, a lot! Chef Molly and her staff were so amazing, the kitchen coordinated a selection of special vegan dishes just for me to enjoy.
- Our group loved all three wines, especially since they were all specially blended to pair perfectly with food. Champagne was actually made for food – its acids breakthrough meat fats and cream sauces. It’s great with charcuterie, chicken and duck. The rose is great with steak, pasta, cheese and pizzas. It’s especially great with fried foods like French fries and fried chicken. Not that I know, but I’ve been told!
- Now here’s a fun fact that’s actually crazy: The only thing that doesn’t taste good with Champagne is chocolate. For reals! The tannins in the Champagne are too big a taste and too bitter for the chocolate. Better bet is to go with a port. You’re welcome.
- Want me to keep going? Here goes: Ruinart uses just under 8 grams of fruit and beet sugar per liter of alcohol, which is equivalent to about a sugar packet. Champagne also is the least caloric of all wines. Just 74 calories per glass! Just be careful if you decided to indulge in the bubbly while exercising.
And at the very end of our experience, our group had the opportunity to purchase the champagne we tasted, including rare specialty bottles we didn’t get to taste, at below wholesale cost! You can just imagine how many cases of champagne this group took home. I have to officially say, my wine refrigerator is filled with Ruinart!
Thanks to Ellerbe’s wine program, White Glove, Purple Teeth.
Who wants to win more fabulous freebies compliments of yours truly and Ellerbe?
We’re giving away a bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc and a Champagne-fueled lunch for 2 at Ellerbe. $300 VALUE