For Frederic Panaiotis, Chef de Caves at Champagne Ruinart (and the wit behind this blog's title quote), eating and drinking at the best restaurants in the world is all part of the job. Last Tuesday night was no exception.
BI and Frederic joined forces at L’Anima, one of the best restaurants in London, for a comprehensive tasting of the Ruinart portfolio. Frederic is clearly one of the most confident men alive: he likes to provoke his audience with phrases like “I’m gonna bullsh*t you now” or “A bottle of champagne between two people should be finished by the middle of the evening; if not there must be a serious problem”.
However, don’t be fooled by the bravado - Fredric is, in my opinion, one of the most knowledgeable people in the champagne world. As well as ruminating on the finer details of his wines, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of general information - classifications, grapes, soils… Personally I’m very passionate about champagne (as a matter of fact, champagne would be my ‘desert island wine’) so, meeting an inspirational person like Frederic made me come up with a simple question for him: “When did you start drinking champagne?” His answer was most delightful and unexpected; “I was one-minute-old! It's tradition in Champagne that when a baby is born, you put a drop of champagne on his tongue to welcome him into the world.”
Here is a quick run-through the wines we enjoyed and, being half Italian, I should mention that Frederic’s second wine passion is for Italian wines. He personally decided that the wines for the post-tasting dinner would only include Italian wines - each of which certainly merit honourable mention below.
R de Ruinart (NV)
Fresh and pleasantly-weighted. Very easy to drink, with a delicate citrus nose. An enjoyable, well balanced champagne.
-90 pts, BI
Blanc de Blancs (NV)
Another ready-to-drink wine; creamy and soft, very appealing and not at all austere with a beautiful long finish.
Dom Ruinart 2002
Made from only Grand Cru vineyards, Dom Ruinart ’02 brought back memories of great white Burgundy (Chevalier-Montrachet perhaps?) This is a thrilling wine with lots of layers both in the nose and palate; it expresses great elegance and will keep improving and developing for several years to come. The next vintage will be produced in 2004.
-96 pts, BI
Ruinart Brut Rose (NV)
The Brut Rose is a gloriously straightforward wine. Clearly Pinot Noir driven, it’s pretty, flowery and strawberry-bright with a nice finish. As Frederic put it, “In a Jacuzzi with some nice company, it’s just perfect”.
-92 pts, BI
Dom Ruinart 1998
With a 5 grams dosage the ’98 Dom shows an intense and defined nose. It’s spicy with hints of earth and truffle coming through. Extremely well balanced with great acidity – seriously elegant. Very long and beautiful finish.
-95 pts, BI
-- The Dinner --
Cepparello Isole e Olena 2001 ~ With crudo di tonno and avocado with Mottra caviar
De Marchi made a stunningly beautiful wine in ‘01. Lots of dark fruit, liquorice and mint notes coming through with precision. Fine and silky palate, very long and complex. Bravo.
-95 pts, BI
Barbaresco Bruno Giacosa 1995 ~ With Stracciatella and herb tortelli with brown butter and spring truffles
Never disappointing, Giacosa made a great Barbaresco in ’95. Tasted blind we managed to guess Barbaresco and probably with a bit of luck the vintage too. The nose is delicate and intense with hints of dried fruit and tobacco; evolving by the minute these turned into more complex tertiary notes by the end of the evening. The palate is long thanks to generous acidity and elegant tannins.
-94 pts, BI
Barolo Borgogno 1995 ~ With black Scotch feef tagliata, marrow bone, blue di bufala and magliocco sauce
Stylistically a typical Borgogno wine with a delicate nose reminiscent of orange zest and sweet spices. It boasts a very graceful, pretty palate; this is a wine that could have you talking about it for the whole evening.
-95 pts, BI