2017 is a special year for all Finns. The country celebrates 100 years of independence on December the 6th. It’s actually quite overwhelming that the time finally here. I remember Finland turning 90, and the countdown to a round hundred has been going on ever since. So there is a lot of celebration to be done, and what I find impressive is that Finland has chosen champagne Ayala for making an iconic 100 year celebratory drink for them. Actually this post will be mostly about Champagne Ayala: who they are and what kind of champagne do they make etc. However, what I am hoping for is that it builds some interest and trust in the Finland 100 bubbly. It is not always these marketing things come out good you know. Champagne Ayala was founded in Ay more then 150 years ago by Edmond de Ayala. It was once the official supplier of champagne for the royal courts of England and Spain, and in the 1920s produced over a million bottles a year and had over 100 employees. Today Ayala is significantly smaller with only 15 employees and a smaller production. However, that just means you can call it “boutique”, right. The house is also still family owned, not by the family you would expect though. Ayala was bought by the Bollinger family in 2005, and is located right next to the famous estate and their VVF vineyards in Ay.
Ayala produces a significantly different style of wines than its world famous big brother. The biggest difference is perhaps in the grapes: while Bollinger is heavy on Pinot Noir, Ayala uses a majority of Chardonnay. Bollinger also uses much more reserve wines as well as aging in oak casks, while Ayala strives to keep its style crisp and fresh with almost no reserve wine at all. Perhaps a down to earth comparison of the styles could be that Bollinger goes well with food, while Ayala is ore of a aperitif.
Ayalas entry level cuvee is called Brut Majeur. It is a mix of 40 % Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. It also contains less than 15% of reserve wine. The result is fresh and citrusy with lovely fruit. Brut Majeur is actually what you can find as content in the Finland 100 bottle. As I quickly mentioned in the last Wineweek, the Finland 100 bottle costs only 25€ on the Viking Line boats, which I think is a steal such a good cuvee. The cost on land is around 10€ higher, so not such a great deal but still worth it.
Other interesting cuvees include Ayalas Brut Nature NV which is same as Brut Majeur but with no added dosage; Rose Majeur, predominantly chardonnay with 6% of still Pinot Noir blended in; and last but not least Perle d’Ayala which is a range of vintages Crafted exclusively from Grand Cru grapes, with a majority of Chardonnay and a touch of Pinot Noir. I was quite excited about the vintage of 2008 (as always).
There you go, a quick dive into the world of Ayala and what the Finns will be drinking this summer, fall and probably all next winter. Well chosen Finland! I am for once proud of your choice, and will happily consume as many Finland 100 -bottle I can get my hands on.