Once again, I’m thinking about my first love and no I don’t mean a person, I mean a country and its wines. For the first 23 years of my life I was all about France. Everything French was better, the food, the places, the people. My Dad is a huge #francophile and I had this idea drilled into my head since I was young.
I was a French major, lived in France during college, and the top of the top to my parents was Champagne and of course to me. Big holidays were celebrated with Champagne. Then I moved to Italy and my brain switched over.
Still despite all the years in between, my 23rd year old self and today, Champagne and the country that produces it hold an unwavering allure.
We almost always drink Italian wine in my home both because I always have it on hand, I work with many Italian regions, I lived there for years, and because it is less expensive that a great Champagne.
I loved bubbly of all kinds. Recently I purchased this bottle of Ayala for my Maman, just because and a bottle of Kir for my Dad to make a Kir Royale which he loves. We shared this bottle last weekend and I thought why don’t we I drink more Champagne.
Oddly while other bubbly, Crfemant, Prosecco, Franciacorta, Trento DOC, Oltrepo’, Cava, etc don’t seem like special occasion wines, for me, Champagne still has that association.
Partly I guess I don’t want to give it up as an idea but It does prevent me from indulging more in these wonderful wines. I’m going to rethink this because life as we know is short and all of it is a celebration.
The Ayala Brut Majeur was a blend of the classic Champagne grapes 45% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, and 20% Pinot Meunier. It was a blend of 70 crus from all over Champagne. Those 70 crus translate into 120 different vats from which they make their house style.
The wine was a beauty with a lovely perlage with numerous, fast, and tiny bubbles. Pale straw in color, it had gorgeous primary fruit aromas of apple and citrus, a hint of grass and acacia flowers. A good balance of acidity and sweetness together with 12% alcohol made this a perfect aperitif, perfect partner for a Kir Royale, and a nice complement to nuts, cheese, and other sundry items we had before dinner.
Not the driest of the Champagnes I have had with 7g/l, this wine was. great with dinner and with chocolate covered strawberries. That said when Edmond De Ayala started making champagne in 1860, the average dosage was 150 g/l. He was the first to make a “drier” style with only 21 g/l. How fashions change.
Ayala was a member of the Syndicat des Grandes Marques in 1882, which today is called the Union des Maisons de Champagne. Fast forward many years and the Champagne house is acquired by the Bollinger family in 2005.
By 2012 Caroline Latrive is Cellar Master of the House, having been with the company since 2006.
The house style is focused on its use of Chardonnay and on making wines of elegance and finesse. I think they have amply succeeded with this lovely wine.
Romance comes in many forms. For me it’s always about the combination of elements and the blend of factors that go into making you fall in love with a country, a person, a moment, a wine. This one was just as I remembered.
It’s that month again when everything is turning up hearts and people openly think and talk about love. The French #Winophiles group is having a chat at 11:00am ET on Twitter. Join us and tell us what you poured this Valentines Day or this month or just some wine you love. Find us at #Winophiles and join the conversation.
Our crew is writing about love and wines of all kinds. Check out what they had to say:
- Susannah of Avvinare is “Falling In Love All Over Again, With Champagne”.
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Finding the right wine for Romance…we chose a trip to the Loire”.
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is “Keeping It Spicy: Blackened Salmon + Domaine Lafage Cuvee Nicolas 2018”.
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm says “Love is in the Air and We are Spicing Things Up with a Cahors Wine paired with an American Steak”.
- Cathie of Side Hustle Wino tells us “Love is on the Table”.
- Terri of Our Good Life sings “Wild Thing, I Think I Love Le Pont Bandol and Wild Caught Orange Roughy”
- Nicole of Somm’s Table shares “A Girls’ Weekend, Grilled Branzino, and a Mag of Palmer & Co. Champagne “
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator dishes up a twofer with “It’s Loveuary! Romance from France: Fun Fondue, Coq a Vin” and “Clink sustainably: Create climate conscious conversations with Bordeaux Wines and Stemple Creek Ranch Beef “
There are so many wines out there to explore. I so often find myself, like you, thinking “why don’t I drink that more often” about many wines. So many wines, so little time. I am on a journey like you to explore as many as possible! But if there is a wine I will revisit, time and time again, it is Champagne.
With you there Robin, Champagne is an endless discovery.
Lovely article Susannah and I’m happy you got to share some love with your folks….I miss mine, every day.
Thanks Wendy, I know, I count my blessings all the time.
What a lovely and information article Susannah. 70 crus and 120 vats, that is so fascinating to me. I love that your Dad was a Francophile and that you majored in French, I feel like most parents would complain that their children should get degrees in accounting or engineering! Cheers to that!
I read your comment the other day and had to laugh. I went to law school, have a masters in economics so I guess they knew that an undergraduate French degree was not the end of the education line for me. I think they would have been happy had I ended up a French professor :).
Yes, I guess with multiple degrees it truly becomes a matter of whatever makes your heart sing!
This is a really lovely post — thanks for taking us through your memories of Champagne. I largely feel torn in the same way — I both want it to be more of an everyday wine, but also value it as a wine that feels extra special.
Nicole, That is exactly how I feel. There is something just a little extra special there and maybe its higher price enhances that feeling. Who knows. Cheers to you, Susannah