«Every day we do nothing, we lose time, and this will bring consequences that nobody wants to face» says Frédéric Dufour, Maison Ruinart
Maison Ruinart eco-design projects to reduce carbon footprint
The President of Maison Ruinart, Frédéric Dufour says that the simplicity of a white casing has inspired its own modes of creativity in which many of the artists Ruinart work with are taking to the cases with drawings and creating art on the case in a way that they never anticipated before. Adopting the Second Skin, Dufour notes that there has still been significant resistance from consumers in leaving behind the idea of a box being an image of luxury. Moving away from gift box packaging, the Second Skin case is made from 100% paper and entirely recyclable, the case hugs the hourglass shape of the bottle with a white chalk-like surface, detailed with textures that emanate the history of the champagne and the walls of the Crayères de Reims – where the Maison Ruinart champagnes age. Manufactured with partners – Pusterla 1880 and James Cropper, together they have worked to create an eco-design which has reduced the bottle’s carbon footprint by 60% and reusing 91% of the water drawn from the UNESCO World Heritage Site during production. The eco-design of the casing is much lighter; weighing just 40 grams compared to previous gift boxes which weighed around 360 grams. The material used is from natural wood fibers that are sustainability sourced from forests in Europe. Aside from eco-friendly manufacturing, the case acts as a protector for the quality of the champagne itself; preserving its aroma and taste from sunlight and varying temperatures. Ruinart have included a novel coffret closer on the case, protected by the brand for its original addition.
Maison Ruinart / Reforest’action
Maison Ruinart, in collaboration with Reforest’Action, has launched a biodiversity pilot project across its entire 40-hectare parcel in the Taissy vineyard. The goal of the project is to preserve and regenerate the area’s forests to combat the climate emergency and restore biodiversity. The long-term objective is to share the approach more widely throughout the Champagne region. Because climate change can have a direct effect on the Earth that is the source of its final product, Ruinart thinks of sustainability as a must and has long been a champion of environmental awareness. This is evidenced in the fact that 98.7 percent of all waste produced on-site in Reims is recycled and all by-products of the vinification process are 100 percent recycled. The current project is the next step in that commitment to sustainability, and biodiversity. The pilot project, which began in March 2021, uses vitiforestry – the application of agroforestry practices to viticulture, or the relationship between tree planting and grape growing that leads to changes in the microclimate of the vineyards. Exterior hedges have already been planted and a total of more than 25,000 plants, trees and shrubs will be planted over the next two years. This is to include local species that will improve biodiversity and provide habitats for fauna useful for growing vines. Frédéric Panaïotis, Cellar Master, says of the project in the press release, «We want to regenerate the soils and bring back the original fauna and flora to this parcel through these vitiforestry practices, which allow us to reestablish ecological corridors within the historic Taissy vineyard». Taissy, a premier cru village, makes an ideal setting for a comprehensive biodiversity project. Reforest’Action was chosen to implement the project because of its mission to preserve, restore and create forests in France and around the world, in response to the climate emergency and the erosion of biodiversity. Since its inception in 2010, Reforest’Action has planted and helped save more than 10 million trees in 25 countries.
Ruinart’s sustainable viticulture
Maison Ruinart is the oldest and recognized champagne house founded in 1729. First began by a Benedictine monk in the 1600s, Dom Thierry Ruinart paved the road for a new drink that would become popular within aristocratic circles during that time. It wasn’t until 1st September 1729 that his nephew – Nicolas Ruinart, would draft up the charter of Maison Ruinart as the first production company for champagne. Since the start, the brand has invested the time into perfecting the taste of their champagne, whilst maintaining a commitment to the preservation of nature throughout the manufacturing process. Revolutionizing the ways which we view sustainability, the brand has spent over three years in the process of launching their new packaging. Since 2012 an eco-design approach has been taken by Ruinart across all developments of packaging and presentation materials, in which the use of plastic for packaging has been banned since 2015; favoring more ecological alternatives such as paper, cardboard and wood. Dufour says: «At Ruinart, luxury in the future should always be conscious, providing quality, but also meaning and good for the planet». Asides from exploring the wonders of eco-packaging, Ruinart has pioneered in the field of sustainable viticulture. Throughout the past decade, they have managed to reduce the use of chemicals by 40% and stopped using herbicides at the end of last year. The company’s policy has adopted a rational delivery policy of no air transport to transport the supplies of raw materials in which 85% of champagne deliveries are done by sea and 15% by land. Frédéric Dufour explains: «There is a rush against this war on climate change and every day we do nothing, we lose time, and this will bring consequences that nobody wants to face. We have to break the rules, we can’t just improve by a little bit, or we are moving too slowly».
Lampoon review: Second Skin case, the result of more than three years of research
The creation of the Second Skin case has been in the process for over three years, representing the time and commitment needed in movements which endeavor to champion sustainability. Dufour explains that although sustainability is at the heart of all their developments, the original objective for the casing grew from the initial desire to preserve the champagne in all conditions. It wasn’t until the team began their exchange of ideas that getting rid of the box became another objective that would become central to their ambition. A few years ago sustainability was viewed more as a constraint; a cap on creativity that hindered beauty and diminished artistic expression «A new era that nobody would have ever thought they would see is here». The creation of the Second Skin case has been a process of collaboration, refinement and partnership across the whole brand from marketing, to design, development and suppliers in which they have all contributed to making the Second Skin come to life. Dufour says without their partners, paper innovator – James Cropper and packaging expert – Purstela. Ruinart’s collaboration with James Cropper maintains a shared understanding of objectives; James Cropper like Ruinart is certified by UNESCO for being the oldest paper producer who resonates with the demands of sustainability. «We had seven prototypes before we achieved the finished casing; the very first samples we used in contact with the paper weren’t strong enough and it just wasn’t protecting the wine».
Ruinart’s sustainable approaches: an example for other brands to follow
For so long unethical packaging has dictated attempts to be eco-friendly, moving away from gift boxes represents a change in the way we view functionality and how this can too intersect with sustainable goals. The serving of Ruinart champagne has been transformed by the welcoming of the Second Skin casing which can be reused time and time again to serve with the same elegance each time; preserving the taste and texture of the wine itself. «Consumers want lightness and elegance, in the past no gift boxes have offered the experience of serving which has been enabled by the Second Skin. Serving the wine with the second skin you get a much silkier touch in your hand that not only improves the experience of serving, but brings a new level of sensitivity to the wine itself and its silky texture». Since Ruinart’s announcement of the Second Skin, its creation has attracted partners to brands in the food industry – those who believe in the advance in sustainable yet luxury items, high quality ingredients and protecting the wine’s taste. Ruinart did one test in a three-star Michelin restaurant in St Tropez for 3 months to try and test using the Second Skin case; Dufour says that they had no ambitions for how well it would go but were thrilled of its concluded success. Ruinart hopes that they will see other brands adopting similar sustainable approaches; the brand has already been approached by several cosmetic companies wishing to learn how they have utilizing technology to eco-friendlier. «We haven’t chosen to protect the overall technology because we wish for our competitors to adopt the same in aid of what is good for our planet». Dufour explains that this process of collaborative work has allowed Ruinart to bring everyone along on the journey. There is still a long way to go in terms of shifting the current attitudes towards sustainability across consumers and competitors.
Is the President of Maison Ruinart and engineer who graduated from ENSTA and obtained a Masters in International Finance from HEC Paris. He started his career at Andersen Consulting in 1989. He joined the Moët Hennessy Group in 1996 where he held various positions; firstly in Asia as Financial and Business Development Director with Moët Hennessy Asia Pacific until 2001, and then as Chief Executive Officer at Moët Hennessy Diageo Hong Kong. He returned to France in 2005 where he was appointed Director, Brand Unit Marque Moët & Chandon, before taking over the International Department of Veuve Clicquot in 2008. Since 15 September 2011 Frédéric Dufour has been Chief Executive Office of Maison Ruinart.