Although Ayala is one of the founding champagne houses of the Syndicat des Grandes Marques de Champagne it isn’t very well known in the UK today. Certainly not as well known as Bollinger, the house that bought Ayala in 2005. This is set to change, though, with the re-launch and redesign of Ayala.
Ayala’s rather suave director Hadrien Mouflard revealed their plans and the result of nearly ten years of collaboration with Bollinger at the Mentzendorff portfolio tasting this week at the Royal Opera House.
Although it now owned by Bollinger, Ayala remains a family run, independent champagne house. It has a relatively small volume of stock but that is as much out of a dedication to the craft of champagne making, a pursuit of excellent and a respect for their terroir.
Ayala’s partnership with Bollinger has supplied the house with a larger volume of high quality grapes from Bollinger’s vineyards and has enabled the brand to return to a position of prominence within the champagne market, particularly within the UK.
Ayala works as an excellent complement to Bollinger, as it has a lower price point but make wines of an equally exceptional quality yet with a different character. Ayala’s champagnes have a low dosage formula, meaning they have little sugar – no more than around 7g in their four main cuvees – so the wines are crisp, fresh and elegant.
Ayala also uses small stainless steel storage tanks to retain the minerality and freshness of the grapes, allowing you to appreciate the quality of the base product. These are eminently drinkable champagnes.
Key to the re-launch of Ayala is its new visual identity. It has a new logo inspired by the brand’s art deco heyday, a shortened neck label and a concentration on black in their branding, as this was the scheme used for their publicity during the 1920s. It has carried this rebranding through to its ‘house’ in Ay, where they have completely refurbished their hospitality areas according to these art deco principles.
Its hospitality areas might not seem of general interest to you, but this house is very proud of its unique location in the Grand Cru village of Ay, and the fact that it has just the one site for the production of champagne. This allows them to keep a watchful eye over every single element of the production process.
The UK is seen as a key market for Ayala, since it was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1908 and the low dosage of its champagnes appeals to the British market.
Ayala will be focusing initially on four main cuvees – the Brut Majeur, Brut Nature, Rosé Majeur and their Blanc de Blancs 2007 – these wines are seen as being the best ambassadors and examples of the house style. After the tasting yesterday, it is clear to see why they are so proud of their product.
As well as being the house tipple in many of London’s top establishments – the Goring and Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants being just a few examples – Ayala is also stocked in Waitrose. This is an attainable luxury and one that I would be very eager to have in my home and on my dinner table.