The only French house with Latin roots, AYALA is one of the most historic houses in Champagne, with over 150 years in production. Edmond de Ayala, the son of a Colombian diplomat, founded the house in 1860 when he moved to Champagne to learn more about the sparkling wine he loved. Edmond certainly found more than he was looking for, marrying a nobleman’s daughter and receiving in his dowry the Chateau de Ay and several vineyards in the Ay region. AYALA experienced a golden age in the 1920s and 1930s, supplying the courts of Britain as one of the largest houses in Champagne. A founding member of the Marques de Champagne in 1882, AYALA pioneered the style of lower-dosage and became famous for their dry “Brut Nature” champagnes, a rarity in a time when many of the champagnes were much sweeter.
Very recently the house has seen as resurgence, purchased by Bollinger in 2005 and placed with director Hervé Augustin and winemaker Nicholas Klym, these two men built a strong foundation for the house to re-inherit its roots in low dosage champagne. Today a younger generation is at the helm, cellar master Caroline Latrive, after years with Bollinger, replaced Nicholas in 2006 and Hadrien Mouflard mentored under Herve before taking over direction in 2012.
Since 2005 the new strategy of Champagne Ayala is to focus on Brut champagnes, a full-circle revival of the glory days when its dry style was highly praised in the English market. Through their relationship with Bollinger, AYALA is able to draw from a vast array of Grand Cru vineyards for both the Rose and Blanc de Blancs, made from grapes harvested in Chouilly, Avize and Le Mesnil and aged six years on the lees. It is the Chardonnay that allows Ayala to distinguish itself from Bollinger, with the grape playing a large role in all of AYALA’s wines, including the Rose. Reaching for a light, very elegant crisp style that Chardonnay-based champagne from the Ay is known for, AYALA focuses on making no dosage champagne with good balance from high quality grapes. Ultra dry and one of the purest expressions of champagne available, Ayala is considered an “Ivy League” champagne house and is one of few to offer a broad range of zero- and low-dosage champagnes, including the Brut Majeur, Cuvee Rose Nature, and Blanc de Blancs, all offered here today. In fact, arising from a change in Ayala’s USA importing arrangement’s, we’ve a suddenly good supply (excepting only 24 bottles each on the 2000 & 2004) and the best retail pricing in the USA!
AYALA Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs 2000 ($79.95) $59 special
Stephen Tanzer 90 points “Vivid gold. Dried lemon and honeysuckle aromas, with suggestions of dusty minerals and green cardamom. Smoother and a touch sweeter than it showed last year, offering sappy orange and lemon curd flavors and a deeper note of pit fruits. An orchard fruit quality lingers on the long, spicy, mineral-driven finish. This should age slowly”
Next best listing- $69.99
AYALA Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs 2004 ($79.95) $59 special
Stephen Tanzer 92 points “Light yellow Candied citrus fruits, white flowers and chalky minerals on the fragrant nose. Juicy, penetrating and pure, offering lively orange and lemon zest flavors with suggestions of honeysuckle and ginger. Shows a strong mineral quality on the penetrating finish, which features a hint of toasted almond. “
The average price elsewhere- $67
AYALA Champagne Brut Majeur NV ($49.95) $28 special
Wine Spectator 92 points “There’s a firm, chalky edge to this minerally Champagne, and mouthwatering flavors of candied lemon peel, green apple, crystallized honey and biscuit. This has an elegant texture and an overall sense of style. Drink now through 2020.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA
The average of other listings- $42
AYALA Champagne Brut Rose Majeur NV ($59.95) $39 special
Stephen Tanzer 90 points “(made from 51% chardonnay, 39% pinot noir – about a quarter of which is still red wine – and 10% pinot meunier; disgorged September, 2011): Pale orange. Bright, mineral-accented aromas of orange peal, brioche and white flowers, with a spicy topnote. Silky and open-knit, offering tangy citrus fruit and red berry flavors and a hint of toastiness. Closes smooth, fruity and long, with good breadth and clarity.”
The average of other listings- $50
AYALA Champagne Brut Rose Nature NV ($99.95) $79 special
Wine Spectator 91 points “Crisp, featuring juicy flavors of pomegranate, white raspberry, pastry dough and spice, with a lightly smoky mineral undertow. Well-meshed and balanced, with a delicate finish. Drink now through 2018. 1,500 cases made.”
Next best- $99.95