dinsdag 20 juni 2023

Vins Clairs 2023 event - Champagnes Bollinger & Ayala

Ever since I started this blog, I have been fortunate enough to embark on numerous enriching trips abroad, immersing myself in the captivating world of wines and spirits. Reflecting, my inaugural adventure in 2018 led me to the exquisite Champagne region, where I had the pleasure of exploring the renowned Champagne Ayala and Bollinger cellars. Consequently, when I recently received an invitation from their distributor to revisit, I eagerly accepted without hesitation.

While many consider Reims to be the beating heart of the Champagne region, I hold the belief that Aÿ possesses an equally strong claim to that title. Interestingly, the surrounding villages, each bearing "ay" in their name, seem to suggest their connection and proximity to Aÿ. 

During my recent visit, we embarked on a scenic drive to the charming village of Aÿ to attend the esteemed 'Vins Clairs 2023' event.

These "Vins Clairs" represent the still wines meticulously blended to form the cuvée. In a process called 'méthode Champenoise,' multiple wines are carefully combined to create the exquisite elixir known as Champagne. This art of assembling Champagne can be likened to the craftsmanship of Master Distillers who also relentlessly strive to achieve a consistent and exceptionally high-quality flavour and aroma in their final products.

On Sunday, we had the pleasure of visiting the caves of Champagne Ayala, where we had the opportunity to sample six of the still wines destined for this year's production. Later, at the rooftop overlooking the village and the vineyards, we indulged in the range of their Champagnes. The experience was complemented by a delightful aperitif moment, followed by a walking dinner that tantalized our taste buds.

Continuing our extraordinary journey on Monday, we were warmly welcomed at the iconic Champagne Bollinger, a name that has a very strong link with the illustrious James Bond films. 

Our visit commenced with an insightful tour of their cellars, and we also had the privilege of exploring the "Tonnellerie", where casks are meticulously repaired by hand. Additionally, we marvelled at the "Vieilles Vignes”, the sole French vineyard to survive the devastating Phylloxera disease that ravaged the region in the 1850s. 

Next, we boarded a bus to the "pressoir," where we were treated to the experience of sampling no less than 14 Vins Clairs, each contributing distinct flavours, aromas, and subtle nuances to the final masterpiece. 
Champagne Bollinger is crafted with Chardonnay, Meunier, and Pinot Noir grapes. Among the memories that will undoubtedly endure, I was particularly struck by a ‘magnum de réserve’ that intriguingly possessed the yeasty aroma of stale beer. 
To culminate our unforgettable visit, we savoured a lunch accompanied by a couple of Champagnes, elegantly poured from jeroboam bottles. These large bottles hold 3 liters of Champagne and are also known as "double magnums". 

Thank you to my friends at Cinoco Wines for the invitation. 

Disclaimer: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Consulting unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

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