Ruinart, Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2006
One of the highlights among this year's new tête de cuvée releases, 2006 the Brut Blanc de Blancs Dom Ruinart is a powerful, almost tannic Champagne built on structure and intensity. Then again, much of the Chardonnay here comes from the Montagne de Reims, where wines tend to naturally be quite broad. Even though it's now ten years old, the 2006 is much less expressive than either the 2002 or 2004 at a similar stage. I expect it will be quite a few years before the 2006 is truly ready to drink. Over the years I have been fortunate to taste Dom Ruinart back to the 1970s, and while I don't think the 2006 will need decades to be at its best, it certainly does look like a long distance runner. There is plenty of citrus and floral driven intensity, although the bouquet is less toasty and open than it often is. In short, the 2006 Dom Ruinart is a wine for those who can be patient. It will be a fine investment for those looking for a wine to cellar to commemorate special occasions.
The Blanc de Blancs from the warm 2006 vintage, a year patronisingly rated by some as a ripe pleasure-giver, has a surprise in store. It has grip and backbone for a longer life than anyone thought it would. 2006 displayed extremes of a continental growing season: a very cold winter followed by a hot summer, complicated by a cool August and sunny September, then rain calling for fast picking. No surprise then that the hardier Chardonnay was the unsung saviour for non-oxidative winemaking. From 100% grand cru Chardonnay. Flowing bubbles and gorgeous aromas, inherently rich but with aristocratic poise akin to a fine Puligny Montrachet. Magically opulent yet with a firm grip and core, a vegetative structure in the best sense. Long, youthful finale.