Aÿ - The jewel of the Champagne Region
Updated: Dec 7, 2019
I'd compare Aÿ as to the Mayfair property on the board game of Monopoly - It has charm, it has high value, quality, appeal and is what most of us are all aiming for in life. If you are then lucky enough to land on that space on the Monopoly board, then the splendour of Champagne will really open for you in Aÿ...
"For me Aÿ is the top place for Champagne. It may just be a small village and sit on the edge of Epernay that carries the wine tourism appeal what with the Avenue de Champagne and statue of Dom Perignon, but Aÿ holds the quality that many Champagne lovers are seeking."
The wines of Champagne are world famous from the well known labels of Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Lanson to the lesser know family growers. There are supposedly some 19,000 hectares of vineyards in the classified Champagne growing region along with 19,000 vineyard owners / growers. Over 2,100 of the growers of vines produce their own labels with the rest simply selling their grapes or loaning their vineyards out to bigger producers.
The best way to discover Champagne is to embrace it full on and by this I mean either going out and purchasing your first bottle or if your holidays are looming then booking in to visit the region. Once you have tasted Champagne you will know that it stands out from any other wine and most certainly once you have visited the region you will have been infected by the 'love Champagne' bug.
"I have been to the Champagne region nearly twenty times in the last five years and each time I go I discover something new from a wine maker to a wine, a fantastic new location to stay at to local foods served up by up and coming chefs."
What makes a great Champagne?
There are many factors which will decide on the quality of Champagne produced from the wine maker to the grape variety, the land to the weather. There are many flavours from many producers to be discovered and also styles such dry flavours to sweeter and rosé also.
There are for sure superior areas where the grapes are grown and these are known as premiere cru wines with the level above that being grand cru which are limited to just 17 villages where the grapes can come from.
Vintages are what to look for as these will be wines which contain grapes from just one year and that year will have been recognised as a good year thus will be producing superior quality wine - Other years will simply be referred to as non-vinatge (NV) wines.
My latest visit to the village of Aÿ I was t he guest of Henri-Giraud where I stayed at their fabulous Manoir Henri Giraud. The wines from this producer really are a cut above many of the others as the region they grow grapes in is that of names such as Krug and Bollinger. Another smaller producer that you can find in the village is Roger Brun who is a personal favourite of mine both in the character of the wine maker and the wonderful flavours of the Champagne he produces - As a testament to the results he is achieving he won the title of the World's Finest Glass of Bubbly Trophy for 2019 in Westminster, London.