Part of a wider sustainability initiative at Ruinart that includes the introduction of solar panels and LED lighting, a zero air-freight policy and a 98.7% waste recycling record, the new packaging is made from natural wood fibres sourced from sustainably managed European forests. Nine times lighter than the previous packaging, it reduces the carbon footprint of the packaging it has replaced by 60%.
Designed by a British manufacturer based in the UK’s Lake District, the second skin took two years to develop, with seven prototypes considered.
The appearance is inspired by the chalk caves (crayères) that Ruinart and other Champagne houses use for cellaring, and also by the manner in which a white serviette is wrapped around a bottle of Champagne when being served in many fine-dining settings. Adapted to refrigeration, the case will also survive several hours in an ice bucket without deterioration, and helps to protect the clear bottles against light strike.
‘In the past, luxury has been associated with lots of packaging, but we think consumers are ready to embrace a more minimalist approach,’ said Ruinart’s chef de cave Frédéric Panaïotis. ‘We want to set an example in sustainability, and we don’t have the luxury of time, as climate change is accelerating.
‘The average temperature in Champagne has risen by 1.1˚C since 1961 – this may not sound much, but recent years have been among the warmest ever recorded. If you include 2020, we will have had six harvests in Champagne that started in August, since 2003 – before that it hadn’t happened since 1893. Anyone who doesn’t believe in climate change just needs to go and work in the vineyards.’
Ruinart is keen to see the new sustainable packaging more widely adopted, in Champagne and beyond, and has not applied patents – though the manufacturer has patented the case fastener, which was designed without the use of metal or plastic.
‘The case has already generated a lot of interest, including from the perfume industry,’ said Panaïotis.
The new packaging will be available exclusively in Selfridges from early September, and from Clos 19 from October onwards, with other retailers adopting it from 2021. It will be used in some export markets also for the Brut and Brut vintage wines.