Ayala is one of the most exciting stories in Champagne today, almost the definition of a boutique Champagne producer. Independently owned, a small, young and dynamic team handles every step of production from grape reception to labeling in their jewel of a facility with incredible precision, crafting Chardonnay-focused wines that deliver immense pleasure, freshness, and elegance.
Long known as the “sleeping beauty of Champagne,” because of its prominence in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, and its still stunning Art Deco cellars dating to 1912. Ayala was one of the 18 founding members of the “Grandes Marques de Champagne” syndicate in 1882 and went through a golden age in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was one of the largest houses in Champagne, and the drink of choice in bohemian Paris and London. Its re-ascent after a long quiet period began in 2005, when it was purchased by the Bollinger group in 2005. It is important to note that the estate is run completely separately from Bollinger.
Last but not least, the immensely talented Caroline Latrive is winemaker, one of only 3 female cellar masters in Champagne. She has blazed a path in pushing for some of the smallest lot-by-lot vinifications in Champagne, always in search of refining the detail and complexity of her Champagne.
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Brut Majeur is the epitome of a non-vintage brut from a great, historic House and is the finest ambassador for the House’s freshness and elegance. A blend of the finest Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, coupled with extended ageing in Ayala's cellars and a low dosage make this wine suitable for any occasion.
Rosé Majeur is the perfect embodiment of the originality and finesse of the House’s wines. Made predominantly from Chardonnay it is crafted with the addition of a small proportion of Pinot Noir from the best crus of the Montagne de Reims. A low dosage enables it to express the House style, both feminine and generous, with great elegance.
Brut Nature, cellar-aged for almost 4 years, demonstrates to perfection the high quality of grapes used by the House to craft its wines, and its remarkable expertise in vinification. Being non-dosage, its purity and precision make it an ideal partner for seafood, in particular raw fish and shellfish, or oysters.
Ayala’s Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay, produced in small quantities in exceptional years only and fully expresses the superb caliber of great Chardonnay from the best crus of the Côte des Blancs. After 6 years of aging in Ayala’s cellars, remarkable minerality and low dosage make this an outstanding wine that can accompany a variety of flavorful dishes, including poultry and fish, or be served on its own to celebrate a special occasion.
A treasure in the portfolio, Perle d'Ayala is produced only in exceptional years, according to practices that have remained faithful to the Champagne tradition. Composed of a majority of Chardonnay, this wine captures the essence of the Champagne terroir, in the purest respect of the style of the House.
Wine Enthusiast - “Ayala specializes in dry Champagnes, and this is the house’s extreme example. It has just the right amount of bottle age to soften its intense acidity and develop some toastiness and fruit. It can be enjoyed now, but a few more months in bottle would make it even better.”
Wine & Spirits - “Where else but in Champagne can you buy a 12-year-old wine with this freshness of fruit, immediately brisk with scents of lemon and orange, generously layering in flavors of golden plums? At first, all that fruit seems heady, but air brings out the rootier depths, acidity ghosting the finish with the sort of masculine power that will make great 2002s riveting wines for decades. If you open this now, decant it and have a platter of shellfish on hand, especially cracked crab claws.”
John Gilman - “The 2010 Ayala Blanc de Blancs Brut Millésime is the new release of this house’s vintage Blanc de Blancs, with all of the grapes hailing from the two Côte de Blancs. The wine spent six years aging sur latte and was finished with a dosage of six grams per liter. The bouquet of the 2010 wafts from the glass in a classy blend of apple, brioche, a hint of almond, lemon zest, chalky soil tones and a topnote of white flowers. On the palate the wine is crisp, fullbodied and still quite youthful, with a good core, refined mousse, bright acids and a long, well balanced and still pretty primary finish. This is going to be a lovely wine, but it really deserves more bottle age to allow it to blossom properly.”
Le Pan - “This cuvee, produced only in top years, and in limited quantities, marks the year the venerable, family-run Ayala was bought by Bollinger. Released after almost nine years on the lees, it is “very creamy, dense and complex” says Charles Curtis MW.”
John Gilman - “The wine offers up an excellent nose of apple, pear, incipient notes of pastry cream, chalky soil tones, biscuits and a lovely topnote of spring flowers. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and still quite youthful, with a lovely core, elegant mousse, crisp, beautifully integrated acids and excellent length and grip on the poised and still fairly primary finish.”
Vinous Media - “Pale gold. Pungent, sharply focused citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complemented by suggestions of brioche, smoky minerals and jasmine, with a hint of melon emerging with air. Silky, nervy and dry, offering taut Meyer lemon and bitter pear skin flavors and a suggestion of truffle. Finishes stony and very long, with lingering smokiness and an echo of white flowers. There’s a very attractive delicacy to this Champagne. 6 g/l Dosage.”
Vinous Media - “Bright orange-pink. Fresh strawberry and tangerine on the lively floral nose and in the mouth. Spicy and incisive, with sappy red fruit and rose pastille flavors underscored by juicy acidity and a subtle chalky nuance. A mineral element adds bite to the finish, which hangs on with strong tenacity and repeating floral character. Six percent of the Pinot Noir component in this blend is in the form of still Pinot Noir from vineyards in the Montagne de Reims.”
More on Champagne Ayala
December 7, 2018 - Wine writer Courtney Schiessl highlighted her favorite non-vintage champagnes in her latest story for Forbes, titled "Holiday Gift Guide 2018: The Best Non-Vintage Champagnes." In the piece, she speaks about…
At the helm of Champagne Ayala is Hadrien Mouflard, who happens to be the youngest General Manager in all of Champagne.
Mouflard joined Ayala in 2012, with a goal to return the brand to its “golden age” when it was one of the best-known houses in the region.
When Bollinger bought the House in 2005 it was on the decline, selling about 400,000 bottles a year. In the last 10+ years, and under Mouflard's watch, he has helped it grow the House into one of the most exciting stories in Champagne today.
Critical to the growth of the House is its talent. Mouflard takes great pride in the dynamic, young team of 18 nimble people he's assembled to bring his vision for the House to life - embracing innovation, modern technology and excellence in winemaking.
Prior to his role at Ayala, Mouflard worked at Champagne Bollinger as Administrator.
Caroline Latrive is one of only three female cellar masters in Champagne, and has proven her place as a superb winemaker in the region.
She has been with Champagne Ayala since 2007, and assumed the title of Cellar Master from her predecessor in 2014.
Prior to her time at Ayala, she honed her skills at Champagne Bollinger (which purchased Ayala in 2005). Though Bollinger is known for its emphasis on Pinot Noir, she found herself focusing on Chardonnay fruit at the iconic House and was internally recommended for a role with Ayala soon after.
As an ambassador for the family-owned house, Latrive acts as the guardian of the House's style. She harmoniously produces fresh, elegant wines that are unbelievably balanced with Ayala's trademark low dosage. Possessing a particular affinity for Chardonnay, she ensures the grape is significantly present - never less than 40% - in all of Ayala's emblematic cuvées.
In addition to taking responsibility for Ayala's grape supply and estate vineyards, she is continually innovating with new techniques, technology and blends in keeping with Ayala's young, dynamic spirit.
Before her time working at Bollinger and Ayala, Latrive spent four years at Oeno Champagne. She studied at Reims University Champagne-Ardenne, then obtained a Masters degree in Oenology at the university.
Spec Sheet | PDF
Added October 5, 2018 -
May 28, 2020 - Champagne Ayala cellar-master Caroline Latrive gives a behind the scene look into the detailed process of making the house's flagship cuvee, Brut Majuer. Sourced from over 120 different stainless steel…