Cottages & Gardens’ wine columnist Sheri de Borchgrave highlighted a selection of giftworthy wines – to give or to treat yourself to – in her latest piece, including Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur and Champagne Bollinger PN VZ15.
Before elaborating on Ayala’s flagship NV wine, Brut Majeur, de Borchgrave speaks to the estate’s history in the chalky hillsides of Aÿ’s. Continuing, she explains the wine is “a blend of equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards with 20% Pinot Meunier, is elegant, fresh, and expressive with white flower, pear, apple, and citrus notes.”
Bollinger’s new NV offering, PN VZ15, offering is also suggested as more of a splurge. “Created entirely from Pinot Noir sourced mainly in the village of Verzenay in the year 2015, this newly launched nonvintage, made with the addition of 20% reserve wines from six previous vintages, is a new series from Bollinger—an answer to its more expensive vintage, Vieilles Vignes Francaises Blanc de Noirs, which is priced close to a thousand dollars.”
The piece explains that Bollinger is known for its emphasis for Pinot Noir and will release a new expression of PN from different villages to showcase the grape in different ways. As far as this debut release, it is described as “a highly aromatic cuvée with acacia blossom, fig, peach, apricot and hazelnut, it shows tension, aromatic complexity, and salinity on the finish.” Read the full piece HERECottagesGardens_12.7.20-3
Brut Majeur is the epitome of a non-vintage brut from a great, historic House and is the finest ambassador for the House’s freshness and elegance. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, coupled with extended aging in Ayala’s cellars and a low dosage, make this wine suitable for any occasion.
PN, made entirely from Pinot Noir to underscore the very essence and DNA of the House style, is the first new cuvée added to Bollinger’s permanent range since rosé in 2008. Each release of PN, developed as a series to bring Bollinger’s unique vision of Pinot Noir to light, will showcase a different cru from the base year that highlights its distinctive terroir and taste. The first edition of the series, PN VZ15, explores the interpretation of Pinot Noir from Verzenay 2015 and features reserve wines dating back to 2009.
Vieilles Vignes Françaises is one of Champagne’s most mythical cuvees, produced from miraculously preserved and ungrafted 100% Pinot Noir vines. Phylloxera destroyed the vines of Champagne in the early 20th century, but amazingly enough two of Bollinger’s classified Grands crus plots, Chaudes Terres and Clos St. Jacques, survived and are still grown the traditional way. Madame Lily Bollinger first had this wine produced in 1969 as an anniversary cuvee to commemorate her 70th birthday. Following the wine’s launch in 1974, Vieilles Vignes Françaises promptly became a collectible and a symbol of a bygone era. Over the decades, its uniqueness and scarcity have made it one of the most sought-after and expensive Champagnes.
Ayala is one of the most exciting stories in Champagne today, almost the definition of a boutique Champagne producer. Independently owned, a small, young and dynamic team handles every step of production from grape reception to labeling in their jewel of a facility with incredible precision, crafting Chardonnay-focused wines that deliver immense pleasure, freshness, and elegance.
Bollinger is one of the rare Grande Marques that’s still family owned. Known for its rich, elegant and polished style of Champagne, their outstanding wines are the result of rigorous attention to detail and incredibly labor-intensive practices that few houses are willing to undertake. Underscoring its excellence, Bollinger has remained British secret agent James Bond's Champagne of choice since 1973.