At Ayala, Managing Director Hervé Augustin walked me through a tasting of their entire line-up: Zéro Dosage, Brut Majeur, Rosé Majeur, Cuvée Rosé Nature, Rich Majeur, 1999 Millésimé, 1999 Blanc de Blancs, and 1999 Perle d’Ayala. The Brut Majeur (67% Pinot Noir, 26% Chardonnay, and 7% Pinot Meunier) is Ayala’s signature wine. The Zéro Dosage is the Brut Majeur without dosage, so with the same base wine minus sugar. The Rich Majeur is also made from the Brut Majeur base wine but with a forty-five gram per liter dosage making it a demi-sec wine (a dessert-pairing wine I would prefer with the cheese course). Again, I was pleasantly surprised that a house which prides itself for being located in the Grand Cru village of Aÿ produces a blanc de blancs. Here the Chardonnays are mostly from the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, with just as impressive proportions of the blend coming from two other Grand Cru villages: Cramant and Chouilly (my favorite village in the Côte des Blancs).
The highlight was Ayala’s rosé nature (brut zero) wine. The blend is 53% Chardonnay and 39% Pinot Noir with 8% still red Pinot from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Here we take brut nature one step further: pure and clean but with more structure and fruit from the addition of still red wine. All of a sudden, we’re seeing new styles of wine emerging from Champagne.