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Ruinart cellar chief opposes disgorgement dates on non-vintage Champagne

Dom Ruinart's chef de caves, Frederic Panaiotis, has waded into the debate on disgorgement, arguing that printing dates on bottles of non-vintage Champagne is not worth the effort.

Amid growing discussion among Champagne houses around communicating disgorgement to consumers, Ruinart‘s cellar master believes its important to maintain some perspective.

Disgorgement is the removal of yeast sediment after secondary fermentation, prior to dosage, and its timing is thought by many producers and critics to have a subtle effect on taste.

Ruinart, which is part of the Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton empire, that also encompasses Krug and Dom Perignon, already prints disgorgement dates on labels of its vintage Champagnes. But, that’s where the policy ends.

‘For Champagnes that are stored for collectors it’s relevant,’ Panaiotis (pictured above) told Decanter.com during a visit to London to launch Ruinart’s 2004 vintage Blanc de Blancs in the UK.

‘But there’s very very little point in having disgorgement dates on non-vintage. Most people don’t know what disgorgement is.’

Not everyone agrees. In the July issue of Decanter magazine, Tyson Stelzer, author of the Champagne Guide 2014-15, argued that disgorgement dates provide a ‘world of information’ to consumers.

‘Stamping a bottle of Champagne with an idelible time reference is the only clue to the age of a non-vintage cuvee and to ensuring you buy a fresh bottle,’ he said.

While Panaiotis is against disgorgement dates on non-vintage bottle labels, he said he wasn’t opposed to giving consumers the disgorgement date if they specifically requested it from the house. He added that an app could also be an interesting way of giving drinkers the option.

Krug, which specialises in non-vintage, introduced an ID code on bottles in 2012. The first digit represents the trimester of disgorgement and the second two digits represent the year.

Written by Chris Mercer

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