As we are now only one day away from New Year's Eve, I thought I should talk about the original party drink, Champagne. And what better story to tell at this time of year, when family is so important, than about the brother and sister wineries of Champagne, Bollinger and Ayala.
Bollinger would have to be one of the most recognisable Champagne brands in the market. It has been around for 190 years and is synonymous with James Bond and the TV show Absolutely Fabulous. It also has one of the most distinct bottle shapes in Champagne. But none of this compares to why it tastes as amazing as it does.
The grapes come from over 85% Grand Cru and Premiere Cru vineyards. Pinot Noir represents 60% of the House’s vineyard, corresponding to the exact proportion of this demanding grape variety in the Special Cuvée blend. Complex and powerful, it provides Bollinger wines with their remarkable structure. After primary fermentation in small stainless steel or wooden casks, the wine is bottled in spring and taken down to rest in the pervading silence of the chalk cellars. Special Cuvée champagne will remain there for at least three years, this is 18 months longer than what is required for Champagne, meaning the complexity and flavour of the wine is at its peak when you pull the cork. This is in direct contrast to most of its competitors who will only leave their wine for the bare minimum time. This is just the beginning of the story of what the Chef de Cave (winemaker) Gilles Descôtes does to make sure this wine is one of the greatest representations of masculine, pinot noir dominant Champagne there is.
Then there is Ayala, which is literally next door to Bollinger. Founded in 1860, this phenomenal champagne has flown under the radar for far too long. This little-known winery was purchased by the Bollinger family in 2005 and has since been refreshed. Ayala crafts wines that are popular for their precision and feminine delicacy and their style based on freshness and elegance. Well-balanced blends giving Chardonnay a major role (unlike there Pinot dominant big brother) and low dosage (sugar) levels. These are all elements that define the House’s unique personality provided by one of only 3 female Chef de Cave’s (winemaker) in all of the major Champagne houses, Caroline Latrive. Caroline also rests her wines for a minimum of 3 years and has the joy of being able to pick her grapes from a high level of Grand Cru and Premiere Cru vineyards.
So, if you want to indulge this New Year’s and see what the Champagne region is really capable of, you have to check these two wines out. From the soft elegant style of Ayala to the more robust full-bodied Bollinger, these wines will surely send your and your guests taste buds into celebration mode.
For any other recommendations please do not hesitate to send me an email or Facebook message.
From all of us at All in Good Taste, we wish you the most wonderful New Year’s Eve and look forward to spending time with you in the coming year.