Ayala is a champagne house located Ay. For much of its 150+ year existence, it has prided itself on its family run origins. Centrepiece to the house are its production centre and offices (done in an Art Deco style), rebuilt after the original buildings were destroyed in riots in 1911.
Ayala rose to prominence in the early 1900’s, when Ferdinand De Ayala moved to London and networked with many aristocrats to promote the family wares. After World War II, the small house grew much quieter as many of the houses leaders changed focus to serving and influencing many of Champagne’s associations.
Today, Ayala serves as a little sister brand to renown house Bollinger who purchased it in 2005. The intention of Bollinger being to restore Ayala back to strong family run origins and focus on quality and consistency. It is still a small operation, with a permanent staff of 15 people.
From: Ay, Champagne, France
Cost & Source: ~$75 a Bottle from Vintage Cellars
Blend Ratio: Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier/Chardonnay (40/20/40)
Aging: 3 Years
Sipped: December 2016
In The Glass:
Look: A mid golden colour, with a strong fizz.
Smell: Ayala Brut Majeur offers a very yeasty and fungal aroma laced with lemon notes.
Taste: Brut Majeur arrives with a unique flavor set, a quirky mix of honey, citrus and traces of papaya, combined with sweet pastry and croissants. It is not loaded with a concentrated sweetness sensation, but rather with a ‘flatter’ level similar to creme caramel.
As it settles in your mouth, it becomes quite tart and feels reasonably dry, but without biting acid burn – and this takes over the initial, sweeter characters.
Being a bit confounding, I think Ayala will polarise a number of drinkers. The quirky profile may very likely be due to its age (5+ years on the shelf) which for most NV’s is getting on a bit.
Notes: The bottle sampled in this review comes from a 2008 vintage base – largely regarded as one of the finest vintage years in Champagne’s history. They can still be found with surprising regularity.
Party Potential: Ayala is a bit pricey and while easy to find, there’s no guarantee of its stock level, and it’s quirky flavour is not for everyone. Find a single bottle and give it a try with friends.
As a Gift: It would make a good present for more adventurous drinkers who like exploring different wines. It would do well as a bring along to a dinner you have been invited to and should be popped that day.
At Home: If you’re feeling adventurous and inquisitive to what a 2008 base champagne is like – then give it a go once with the partner one random evening. It doesn’t need a special occasion.
Matching: On its own, Ayala is very interesting. I had it with arancini balls which matched it quite well due to their low level of savory influence.
Score & Verdict:
The quirky, eccentric one with the famous sibling. Some will find them charming, others will find them impossible and feel isolated. Don’t get too attached.
At $75 I feel it is only fair value for the quality.
How did I drink it?
I brought a bottle to a birthday bash!
How did you drink it?
And how did you find it? Let me know!
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