Most Admired Champagne Brands 2017: 16-30

03 February, 2017


It’s now more than a decade since Bollinger bought the house of near neighbour Ayala in Aÿ. It’s undergone quite a few changes in that time, the latest being the installation of new chef de cave Caroline Latrive, in 2014. Female head winemakers are still something of a rarity in Champagne, but that is gradually changing. This new young team under managing director Hadrien Mouflard, himself only four years in the job, continues the task of establishing the brand’s identity and keeping it from being overshadowed by its illustrious neighbour. Happily, the wines are very different in style to Bollinger’s, seeing no oak, while the quality is good across the range. Importantly in the very competitive market for small houses – Ayala shipped 800,000 bottles in 2016 – the quality-to-price ratio at Ayala is high.

French domestic sales dominate, with the UK as the first export market, while Scandinavia, Spain and particularly Japan also feature. A new pink fizz in the shape of Rosé No.8 – a 50/50 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend, from eight different crus from the impressive ’08 vintage, with 8gms/l dosage – was launched last year with the Asian market very much in mind. A bespoke label created for Gordon Ramsay restaurants called Brut Majeur Extra Age, with an extra year on its lees, was another innovation in 2016.

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