Today we visited Dizy, as in the wine town near Epernay in the Vallée de Marne. Our first visit was to Gaston Chiquet, a small family-owned winery with a female wine maker.

They produce 200,000 bottles on 20 hectares and use only stainless steel and no barrels. Their goal is a fresh, fruity, light style which they have achieved, based on the wines we tasted.

Champagne landscape near Epernay

They are ‘recoltant-manipulant’ so they control the entire process.

Our tasting started with Insolent, 65% P.Meunier, 20% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir-fruit forward, toast, everyone liked it; Blanc de Blanc d’Ay Grand Cru-less fruity, 100% Chardonnay, can age 20 years or more; Tradition NV- delightful fruit, lean; Rosé- same blend as Tradition, fruity aroma, not as fruity in the mouth, full-bodied, acidic; Millésime Or 2007, 60& P. Noir, 40% Chardonnay, great aroma of apricots, candies fruit, creamy, full-bodied, a contrast of new and older wine aromas, good acidity.

We had a fine lunch at Grains d’Argent accompanied by Collet Coteaux Champenois White 2014, super acidic and Geoffrey Cumières Pinot Noir NV; I had a fig tart so I was a happy camper.

Our next visit was to Jacquesson, another small producer of 250,000 bottles all from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards. Here wood barrels are omnipresent and help produce their house style. A lot of people liked the style although not everyone.

Here was our tasting: Cuvée 759 NV, a semi dry wine with 3.5RS, with citrus and yeast aromas and a full body; Cuvée 740, same blend as the 759 but much drier and a long aftertaste; 736 Late Disgorged 2008- 8 years bottle aging and disgorged in 2016, very acidic with a full body.

The most pleasant surprise was our visit to Ayala, founded in 1860 but currently owned by the family that controls Bollinger. Their style right from the beginning was to present a fruity, fresh, clean taste, even though the style at the time was sweet Champagnes with 12-14% sugar. This is a larger winery- 900,000 bottles.

Our tasting started with Brut Majeure, 40% of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and 20% P. Meunier- this was well received by everyone and in my opinion one of the top wines so far; Rosé Majeure- this wine floored me- I thought it was stupendous with a fresh aroma of strawberries and a long fruity finish, made from 50% Chardonnay, 40% P.Noir and 10% P.Meunier, bone dry but the fruitiness made it appear sightly sweet, a stunning wine; Brut Nature same blend as the first wine, only 0 dosage and 4 years bottle aging instead of 3,notable citrus aroma; Millésimé 2007 80% Chardonnay, 20% P. Noir, all from Grand Cru vineyards, the wine spent 6 years on the yeast lees, hence the notable yeasty toast aromas; this is an exception and aberration from their style of freshness and fruitiness which they have decided to stop producing.Also another winery with a female winemaker.

Ayala is one Champagne producer to seriously consider next time you’re in the mood for Champagne.

Author Vin Marottoli

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