Victory Lap

by eliteGen magazine

Ivan wong

Did you know that Winston Churchill, known to be a Champagne and cigar lover, stoked morale in the war against Adolf Hitler with the words:“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne.”

Did you also know that the Champagne Campaign (aka Operation Anvil) was the code name used for the Allied landing of Provence. Although one of the most underestimated military operations by Allied forces in southern France during the WWII, it successfully delivered one-third of the vital supplies needed for the German offensive.

Ayala Blanc de Blancs was aged for six years, from 2013 to 2019, before being introduced to the world.

So it is no surprise that the French take the fame of Champagne very seriously; it’s a badge of honour. But one producer is doing something a bit different. Where most Champagne is a blend of three principal grapes grown in the region (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Menieur), Ayala Blanc de Blancs 2013 has only one: Chardonnay. Although 2013 was a late harvest (in early October), and the Chardonnay grapes of Côte des Blanc also had to endure a cooler climate that delayed the flowering time, Ayala’s Chef de Cave Caroline Latrive believes it was still a good vintage for the Champagne region.

Ayala favours steel barrels over wood casks for its Champagne.

But Blanc de Blancs uses only Chardonnay. As long as the complexity of topquality Chardonnay is fully expressed, using only one type of grape can still deliver diverse and rounded flavours. It simply comes down to the skill of the winemaker.

Although using only a single grape species, the diverse characteristics of the grapes from different fields in high-end vineyards let winemakers show off their skills.

And Ayala Blanc de Blancs 2013 is a case in point. Its delicate and deep flavour profile blends in the unique characteristics of the grapes from different villages: Cramant creates the framework with mineral textures, Chouilly brings a silky-smooth fresh finish to the mix and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, despite low production quantity, offers a je ne sais quoi intensity. The mix gives this Champagne enormous potential for aging… until that next special occasion. Perhaps the day the world beats COVID-19.

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