New releases from Champagne Ayala, including 2013 La Perle

These are the new releases from Champagne Ayala, the sister house to Bollinger (but run completely separately) in Aÿ. Founded in 1860 by Edmond de Ayala, the house is famous for being one of the pioneers of the dry style of Champagne. In 1865 they released a dry Champagne with a dosage of 21 g/l, at a time when the norm was in excess of 100! Ayala were purchased by Bollinger in 2005, and they have developed and refined the style.

In 2012, they built a new winery. At the time, they were 35% Chardonnay, sourcing grapes from 25 crus, used 20% reserve wines and had 80 stainless steel vats. Now, in 2023, they are 55% Chardonnay, have 120 different vats (for more precise separation of crus and vineyards), source from 70 crus and use 43% reserve wines. Chardonnay is at the heart of the Ayala style, which is based on long ageing on lees and low dosage: nothing is higher than 6 g/litre.

I’ve written more extensively about Ayala here, based on a recent visit.

Champagne Ayala Brut Nature NV France
12% alcohol. This is a blend of 55% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier from 70 crus and vintages 2016 to 2019. This is brisk and taut with lovely compressed citrus fruit (lemon and a touch of clementine), with nice concentration of focused, pure fruit and a bright finish with keen acidity apparent because of the lack of dosage. The focus is all on the fruit here. Very expressive. This is really good. 92/100

Champagne Ayala Rosé Majeur NV France
12% alcohol. This comes from 24 crus and is a blend of 2016, 17, 18 and 19 vintages. 6% red wine in the blend, and disgorged with a dosage of 6 g/litre. Quite full in colour, with an orange/pink hue. Really expressive with a bright citrus core and a bit of structure under the sweet glace cherry, plum, summer berry and mandarin fruit, as well as a little sour twist on the finish. Textured, with just enough dosage to round things off. Very stylish. 93/100

Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur NV France
12% alcohol. From 70 crus and including 2016, 17, 18 and 19 vintages, 6 g/litre dosage. This is fruity, pure and expressive with a citrus core but also some table grape notes, and a bit of bite. Lovely purity to this wine. 91/100

Champagne Ayala Le Blanc de Blancs 2016 France
12% alcohol. From Ayala’s best plots in the Côte des Blancs. The core of this blend is a set of three Grand Crus: Chouilly (owned by Ayala) which Ayala say brings silky texture, freshness, and aromatic diversity; Le Mesnil-sur-Oger which brings tension, precision, and ageing capacity; and Cramant, which contributes chalky minerality. Added into the blend are some leading premier cru plots. This has ripe, textural citrus fruit with nice focus. Very refined with ripe citrus, pear and even some peach, with fine mineral notes on the finish and just a hint of toast and meal from the extended lees ageing. Fine crystalline finish. 94/100

Champagne Ayala La Perle 2013 France
12% alcohol. This is the prestige cuvée of Ayala, from Grand Crus (80% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs: Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger; 20% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims: Verzy). aged under cork (agrafe) for 8 years, and hand riddled. Dosage is 6 g/litre. 2013 was a very late year with an October harvest. Refined, complex and layered with subtle citrus fruit complemented by toast and spice, and also some richer notes of white peach and pear. Lovely complexity and almost perfect balance, with a touch of cherry on the finish. There’s a gentleness and mellow texture, but it still has energy. 95/100 (UK retail £140)