For all our readers we will now be bringing you two regular weekly full profiles from the 11 & and upcoming 12th editions of Wine behind the label with our ratings. This should give you an excellent idea of what you can enjoy when purchasing a full guide. Here Michael Edwards profiles Ayala in Champagne.
After a quiet, declining period in the ‘90s and into our new century, Ayala was bought in 2005 by Bollinger, whose president Ghislain de Montgolfier saw a lot of potential in resuscitating the very dry style of Ayala in its 1930s heyday, when it was the favourite Champagne of King George V1. Montgolfier set about a complete overall of the range. As a result of Ghislain’s efforts a decade ago, the well- known Brut Majeur, once a foursquare, even rustic wine has since become much more stylish and refined with a 40/40/20 mix of Pinot Noir/ Chardonnay/Meunier, crucially with a lowered dosage of 7g/l.
The most radical new cuvée Brut Nature has zero dosage, is bone-dry but no asperity having spent four years on lees; it’s selected from the ripest grapes in preferably warmer years. Caroline Latrine the new chef de caves since 2013 continues the focus on freshness and elegance. The Vintage Brut is a good decent wine but outclassed by the Vintage Blanc de Blancs, which is made in small quantities. Aged on lees for at least six years, it has real structure and surprising opulence. There is also a light, fruit-driven rosé. The pride of the cellar is the vintage Perla d’Ayala, a true work of craftsmanship made only in outstanding vintages, using traditional local techniques. Chardonnay makes up 80% of the cuvée, rounded out with 20% Pinot Noir – dosage 6 g/l. Ample and silky, it’s a gastronomic wine for the greatest ocean fish. Quite exceptional in 2002 and 2008, soon to be released. (ME)
Cuvée Perle d’Ayala Vintage ★★★★★ £G
Brut Blanc de Blancs Vintage ★★★★ £F
Brut Vintage ★★★ £F
Brut Majeur NV ★★★ £E
Brut Majeur NV ★★ £E
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