Champagne Ayala, An Historic House Coming Alive Again…

Feb 17, 14 Champagne Ayala, An Historic House Coming Alive Again…

Posted by in Champagne, France

Walking up to the House of Champagne Ayala, I was struck by the ornate and grandiose facade of the winery. Built after the 1911 Champagne riots, the winery is where everything happens at Ayala. Ayala can claim that they are one of the few houses where all the production occurs under one roof, from pressing to packaging, it’s all there. At first glance, Ayala doesn’t sound like a French champagne house but it has a long history in the region. The Ayala family were originally from Spain and were sent to South America by the Spanish government in the colonial period to govern in what is now Colombia. The family spent two generations there before returning to Europe in 1830 and settling in Paris, where Edmond, the founder of the House was born. Edmond moved to Champagne in the 1850’s and married the niece of the Vicomte de Mareuil, whose dowry included various vineyards. He created the house in 1860 and set out to build the brand. One of the first things he did was launch a drier style of champagne to the UK market. At the time, champagne made in the mid 19th century had up to 300 grams/litre of sugar so when Ayala introduced a champagne with ‘only’ 21 grams, it was a revelation. So much so that they eventually received a royal warrant from the Royal Family. By the 1920’s Ayala was producing over a million bottles of champagne a year. Unfortunately, the house fell on hard times and from the mid-20th century went into decline. It wasn’t until the house was bought by Bollinger in 2005 that they have now begun to recover their former glory. Bollinger has put in considerable investment to bring the house back from the brink. Although, they are careful to point out that Ayala is not Bollinger’s second wine. The styles are widely divergent, with Ayala making completely unoaked champagnes whereas one of the hallmarks of Bolly is the influence of oak. They’ve also introduced...

read more

AMEX in Paris, a Sneek Peek at Rungis Market – video

Dec 09, 13 AMEX in Paris, a Sneek Peek at Rungis Market – video

Posted by in All, France

I’ve always wanted to visit Rungis Market and now I can, at least vicariously through this video from AmEx… Amex Travel Insider Alex Zane is taking a sneak peek behind some of Europe’s best known destinations, uncovering the hidden gems that make each place that little bit more interesting. According to research by American Express, amazing local cuisine and delicacies make trips away just that little bit more special. So while in Paris, the gastronomic capital of the world, Alex took a look behind the scenes of the world’s biggest and most respected food wholesaler, the Rungis Market, to see how it helps feed Paris. Larger in size than Monaco and sitting in a little known southern suburb of the city, the Rungis Market caters to the needs of many of the 77 Michelin starred restaurants that Paris is famed for, stocking over 400 varieties of cheese alone! Alex talks to those who visit the market every day, either to trade their produce or to source the finest ingredients for their restaurants, to find out why the Rungis Market is such a mecca for foodies worldwide. To learn more about Alex’s travel adventures visit Or connect with AmericanExpressUK on Facebook or on Twitter @AmexUK   Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

read more

Video – How to Read a Wine Label, the Douro Valley and Bourgogne

Sep 19, 13 Video – How to Read a Wine Label, the Douro Valley and Bourgogne

Posted by in All, France, Portugal, Videos

Two of my favourite wine regions in the world  are The Douro Valley in Portugal and Bourgogne in France. I have been invited to visit the region many times by various producers and generic wine bodies and some of my favourite visits have been organised by the Discover the Origin campaign. The aim of DTO is to explain the wines of the region to the uninitiated. The wines of Bourgogne are poorly understood and suffer sometimes from having wine labels that are incomprehensible to the average wine drinker. The wine labels are slowly changing to make it easier for wine drinkers to know what they are buying but it does take time. DTO have created this handy video guide to show you what you’re getting when you pick up a bottle of  Bourgogne. They’ve done the same for the wines of the Douro Valley. I adore the wines of the Douro but too many people I talk to think that only port wines are produced there. In reality, although they make excellent ports, the region also produces some fantastic and wonderful value for money red and white table wines. I hope you find the video informative and if you want to know anything more about these regions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line or visit the Discover the Origin website.     Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

read more

Video – Discover the Origin, Bourgogne

Sep 14, 13 Video – Discover the Origin, Bourgogne

Posted by in All, France, Videos

I visited Bourgogne not long ago and feel in love with the region. It’s a beautiful place, the rolling hills, small villages and of course the fabulous wines. My trip was sponsored by Discover the Origin and I recently received a video link from them which introduces the casual wine drinker to the region. I’m reposting it here because I think it’s a nice little ‘taster” of what you can expect when you visit Bourgogne.     Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

read more

In Bourgogne, Domaine Parent Pommard is going biodynamic

Jun 17, 13 In Bourgogne, Domaine Parent Pommard is going biodynamic

Posted by in France, Travel

I was in Bourgogne not long ago on a press trip with Discover the Origin, an EU initiative to introduce the well known but possibly misunderstood regions of Bourgogne, the Douro and Parma. During the trip, one of the producers we got to meet was Anne Parent, winemaker and part owner of Domaine Parent Pommard. The domaine is situated in the and around the village of Pommard and they make both red and white Bourgogne. We started our chat in the half empty cellars of the domaine. Anne apologised for the empty space saying that usually the cellar is full to the top but as the last few harvest have been bad in the region, stocks are low. She is concerned about the 2013 vintage and is hoping for a bumper crop because otherwise… The conversation then turned to biodynamic practices in Bourgogne. During the trip, I  had spoken to many producers and while many used biodynamic practices, Anne was the first one to tell me that she was actually in the process of going totally biodynamic. That is a brave thing to do in Bourgogne where the weather is not always warm and sunny and there are a myriad of issues that growers face every year. Anne told me that they are currently in the process of going biodynamic but it is a step by step process and they are not 100% there they are however, going to be certified organic this coming year. In 2010 they started their biodynamic policies but is has been a great challenge. However, she will not go back to chemicals or sustainable practices. She sees going biodynamic as an investment in the vineyard. To do that though,  they must have the right equipment and strategy. According to Anne, “…you have to think of the consequences of how you organize the vineyard, the work involved and the cost…” Working in a biodynamic vineyard is completely different in that you have to be precise and serious, she continued. You cannot make...

read more
%d bloggers like this: