2007 Ayala, No.7 Brut, Champagne, France
£58, thefinestbubble.com; £70, thechampagnecompany.com, champagnedirect.co.uk; £560 per 12 bottles in bond, biwine.com
I have a soft spot for Ayala. I visited the winery 13 years ago and asked them to keep back several hundred cases of their fizz in their cellars, in Aÿ, for an extra nine months over the usual three years, to differentiate it from the regular Brut Majeur cuvée. A label saying “extra age” was stuck on the neck. This special label was a huge success for the members of a private club, but it was not on general release. It was a cool project and the wine was sublime.
Imagine my surprise when I spotted a bottle at a Majestic tasting the other day, labelled Ayala Extra Age (£44.99, reduced to £34.99 for a Mix Six) – it brought the memories flooding back and reminded me that I had to tell you about my featured wine, the moment it secured retail distribution.
Tasted back in early June, this sensational sparkler was made to celebrate Ayala’s 160th anniversary this year. Available in very small quantities, 2007 No.7 is made from the fruit selected from seven Grand Cru villages – two-thirds chardonnay from Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger, and one-third pinot noir from Aÿ and Verzy. It is finished with a firm 6 gm/l dosage and, after 11 years of (extra) ageing, it is the epitome of affordable elegance. I say “affordable” because its flavour obliterates all but a handful of Champagnes with three-digit price tags.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)