If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen some snippets of my trip to Reims with Ruinart already. I love Ruinart. Not only is it one of my favorite champagnes to drink (it is the only champagne I drink on my birthday!), it’s also a special relationship I have with Ruinart. Last year I attended the Ruinart Harvest Camp, an inspiring trip to learn (and see) the harvesting season of the champagne house. This year, harvest came earlier than expected, so when we arrived in Reims last week, harvest was already long over. Luckily, Maison Ruinart set up a marvelous experiences nonetheless. The Ruinart Petit R experience.
Our trip started at the Okura Hotel, where chef Onno Kokmeijer and maître Pasquinel Kolk from Ciel Bleu awaited us with a breakfast. Afterwards, we drove with the team from Moët Hennessy in the most luxurious Lexus vehicles to Reims. It was a long drive, but seeing the blue skies and wide golden fields of the Ruinart Vineyards – it was all the more worth it.
We learned about the harvesting process, what makes a good harvest, and the champagne making process – particularly how meticulously calculated the barrels are to ensure the balance. We went through the vineyards and tasted some of the newer grapes. Still small and young, but so sweet and delicate! Of course we had to pop a few bottles to really complete the Ruinart experience. The golden liquid of Ruinart’s Blanc de Blancs (my favorite) is a liquid for gods and we savored every second (and sip)!
After our trip to the vineyards, we were welcomed into Maison Ruinart, where we learned about the history of champagne making. We even got to have a look in one of Nicolas Ruinart’s note books! We toured the house, after which we made our way into the Ruinart caves.
The lowest point of the cave runs at 40m deep. In the infamous ‘vault’, we enjoyed the Brut with some fine bites and an inspiring speech.
In true Ruinart fashion, we took our seat at the table to enjoy the stunning animation artworks created for Ruinart. Of all champagne houses, Ruinart stands out with its eye continuously on contemporary fine arts. The Petit R experience. One animation moving after another on the table, filling the room with colors and music. A beautiful introduction to the dinner experience awaiting us, created by two-Michelin star chef Philippe Mille from Relais & Châteaux.
We start with a light lobster dish with white onions and granny smith – paired with the Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. The freshness of the dish are well paired with the fine and delicate flavors of the Blanc de Blancs.
We continue with scallops with a chestnut crust and multicolored cauliflowers, paired with the Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2006. An elegant dish with an equally elegant champagne pairing. The next dish is a stunning soft-boiled egg in a mushroom cloak, paired with the Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2004. Lastly, we’re served a veal carpaccio with caviar. The dish comes with a hero of mashed potatoes with caviar (I could spoon this up, pan-ful). The dish is paired with the Dom Ruinart Rosé 2004.
For dessert, we’re served a Saint Nectaire with crushed pecan nuts. Served with a surprise champagne that one of the guests was able to guess! After dinner, we were led to the living room, where a Virtual Reality experience was set up for us. With VR goggles on, we immersed into the world of Ruinart. Full of stars, glitters, a bird’s eye view and magic.
Upon our arrival back in Amsterdam, another tasting awaited us at two-Michelin star restaurant Ciel Bleu. We’re treated to the restaurant’s iconic caviar and gold leaf dish among others. Paired with a Ruinart Rosé.
As if we hadn’t had enough champagne in two days – I actually found myself thirsty for more. Which is what champagne does to you. It’s lush and velvety, delicate and robust at the same time. Ruinart to me isn’t just the champagne though. It’s a decadence for sure but it’s the artful eye on life as well that makes Ruinart, Ruinart.
We were told that this isn’t the end of the experience. It’s soon to be continued in December – we’ll be back to report to you here!