This is more like being shown around the lovely home of an impressively rich and generous friend than being a tourist. Ok, so it had cost 70 Euro apiece*, but the money had been handled online beforehand and, once you have been warmly greeted and graciously ushered into the comfortable drawing room where the visit starts, you are treated thereafter like a much-valued friend of the family.
The tri-lingual (Italian, French, English) Domenico was our delightful host for our morning's fantasy that we were visiting aristocracy and that, we too, lived like this. The visit is limited to eight, which lends a genteel, collegial house-party atmosphere, aided along by the ever courteous and perfectly mannered Domenico who called us all by our names throughout.
We toured the Roman chalk cellars, walking through wide underground tunnels and stepping into cathedral-high spaces where the Champagne is stored at the perfect, constant temperature. One tall alcove alone sheltered eight million Euros worth of top-of-the-line wine. We were especially tickled to come across boxes labelled for regular customers: a Who's Who of the world's royalty and high society, including Princes Charles and Phillip of the UK.
But the real treat comes with the tasting back in the oil-painting-lined drawing room afterwards where, if it wasn't obvious enough already, you begin to fully appreciate that your guide is no cut-price intern or holiday hire. Domenico is impressively well educated, experienced, and so kind in imparting his knowledge that you are amazed that Ruinart has been able to spare him in order to lend him to you for a couple of hours.
You are offered a choice of tastings. Domenico guides you through them before expertly opening the chosen bottles and then, once everyone has been served, speaks eloquently about each as you sip.
We tried two rosés and two blanc de blancs, one vintage (a 1998 Dom Rosé and a 2002 Dom Ruinart) and one non-vintage of each. We quickly got the surprising burnt toast aroma, but have to admit that the white chocolate and pamplemousse confit eluded us somewhat. But you don't need to get all the subtleties to appreciate that these are really fabulous wines. Clearly Princes Phillip and Charles have great taste.
(*35 Euro gets you one tasting each, the extra 35 gets you another. We felt it was in for a penny, in for a pound - or Euro - and, frankly, as we're not in the habit of quaffing vintage Dom Ruinart back at the ranch we thought we'd seize the moment. There were two of us so we shared four different, glorious Ruinart Champagnes between us. However, it is perfectly acceptable to chose the 35 Euro option as some of our group did.)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.