To celebrate its 50th anniversary, writes Giles Fallowfield, Ruinart Champagne recently held a vertical tasting of its prestige cuvée at restaurant Apicius in Paris. Since 1959, the house has released 21 vintages of its Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, though getting hold of them all for the occasion proved impossible. Ten vintages going back to 1981 were readily available in stock, and an eleventh, 1969, was sourced from Ruinart’s own historic cellars in Reims. 1961, 1964, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978 and 1979 were purchased from specialist retailers and collectors by Ruinart's chef de cave Frédéric Panaiotis, though relatively poor cellaring took the shine off most of these. The renowned 1959, 1966 and 1976 vintages were sadly unavailable. Fruit for Dom Ruinart’s prestige cuvée isn't entirely sourced form the grands crus of the Côte de Blancs. Instead, as much as 50% of the blend can come from three Montagne de Reims grands crus - Sillery, Verzenay and Puisieulx - which is the reason for the wines' weight and white Burgundian quality as they age.

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Written by Decanter