By James Atkinson
The oldest Champagne house, Ruinart, will engage closely with Australia's leading sommeliers to build its profile in this market, managing director Frederic Dufour has revealed.
In a recent interview with TheShout at Ruinart's headquarters in Reims, Champagne, Dufour said Ruinart owner Moët Hennessy began a program of reinvestment in the brand in the "new markets" of Asia and Australia about a year ago. [continued below]
Ruinart managing director Frederic Dufour
Prior to that, he said Ruinart was selling just 10,000 bottles a year in Australia to "people who knew".
Like Ruinart chef de cave Frederic Panaiotis (pictured left), Dufour – who knows the Australian market well, having previously worked for Moët Hennessy Asia Pacific – believes Australia is well-suited to Ruinart's Chardonnay-led style of Champagne.
"We really believe that the Australian market is perfect for Ruinart," he said.
"For Ruinart, we need people who are a bit sophisticated, who understand the quality of the wines, and who are interested in different styles of wines."
"Australians are so good in terms of wine recognition and wine knowledge that I'm sure it will do very well. We moved to the Chardonnay style a long time ago, it is a wine that is so pleasant to drink, especially in very hot markets – people want something fresh and aromatic."
Currently, Ruinart is the largest Champagne brand in France in value terms, with only 30 per cent of its output exported to international markets.
"I really want to Ruinart to remain true to ourselves as a small and exclusive brand, but take it from a French brand to a global brand," Dufour said.
To grow the brand in Australia, Dufour revealed Ruinart will partner with Sommeliers Australia on the upcoming Sommeliers Challenge Competition.
He said distribution for the brand in this market will remain limited to restaurants and fine wine retail.
Pictured right: Blanc de Blancs Champagne in the caves of Ruinart