There are good days and there are exceptional days. Any day when one is invited to have Champagne at lunch is one of the latter. And even better when the Chef de Caves invites you. Such was the case recently when Ruinart winemaker Frédéric Panaïotis was in town for a visit. Accompanied by Charlotte Duntze, the US Brand Manager for Ruinart, they represent the new generation of wine professional from France that have taken the baton and are going strongly into the future. I couldn’t help but be excited for them and for Champagne. In fact as I sat at the table looking at all the youth around me, I was flush with pride for the wine business.
Ruinart is a favorite Champagne of mine, having first sold it in the heady days of the early 1980’s, when oil and champagne flowed freely and the economy was a bottomless well of energy and celebration. It really is one of the epochal times Champagne was made for.
So how to translate that now in these new leaner, but not so meaner times? Champagne is still a wine, and as such, it is made to go with cuisine as well as celebration. We tried the Blanc de Blanc and the Rosé at lunch with the offerings at Stephan Pyles eponymous restaurant.
The Blanc de Blancs paired perfectly with a trio of ceviches. The Rosé tackled pasta and pizza. Spices and world cuisines swirling about us amidst the flurry of bubbles, Ruinart showed both elegance and utility. And that is the secret inside those tiny little bubbles.
Frédéric, while still youthful, has the old soul inside him. I know that sounds cliché. But I sense his understanding of the position he holds for a company that is approaching their 300th year of making wine.
“At the end of the second World War, Ruinart was devastated. We had no stocks, our vineyards were a disaster. But thanks to the efforts of Bertrand Mure, he brought Ruinart back from the dead. This is one of the great stories of how Champagne and humanity both overcome adversity and rise up into new life.” Sounds like a book, a movie, is waiting to be written, filmed.
Frédéric quoted an old Chinese proverb, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.” So nice to hear it from the upcoming generation, especially in times when folks have all but sounded the death knell for Champagne. Don’t pronounce any knock-out victories by the recession just yet, these kids and the wines are up and swinging.
Life is for the living and champagne is for those who grab life with gusto.
Grab you some Ruinart for the rest of your life, live a little more. To Bertrand and the future!