Who doesn’t love a glass of Champagne? At a wedding, birthday party, New Year’s Eve – whatever the occasion, we all enjoy a toast and being handed a glass of bubbly. Drinking it in this way means that very few of us actually go out and buy specific bottles of Champagne. At a party you may get handed an anonymous glass of Champagne. At a bar, order “a glass of Champagne”. We tend to use the generic term to cover everything. When we are in a shop or on a website and faced with a number of options, however, it can be difficult to know which is which. One easy way to overcome this problem is to stick to what you know – a familiar brand, such as Ayala Champagne.
The magnificent house of Ayala Champagne was founded in 1860 by Edmond de Ayala in the Aÿ area of France’s Champagne region. The brand became well known quite quickly, as Edmond’s younger brother Fernand moved to London and socialised with the great and good, introducing London’s aristocratic wine lovers to his family’s Champagne.
What should you drink instead of Ayala Champagne?
There’s nothing wrong with Ayala Champagne, for sure. It’s a great brand and they make great wines. However, Champagne wines have so much to offer it would be a shame to continuously stick to one brand. Why deprive yourself of such other possible pleasures? In addition, the wider world of sparkling wines other than Champagne has many fine alternatives.
There are many alternatives to Ayala Champagne within the Champagne region of France. From historic houses and grandes marques to small producers and grower Champagnes, there is a lot for you to try. Here are a few of our top picks:
- Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label is one of the most stylish and well-known Champagne brands of them all. The house of Veuve Clicquot and the story of the Widow Clicquot is as historic as Champagne itself and is well-documented. Today the house is owned by luxury goods giant LVMH, who also own other top Champagnes such as Moët & Chandon, Krug and Dom Pérignon. The wines of Veuve Clicquot are amongst the region’s finest, and the Brut Yellow Label non-vintage cuvée is a real benchmark.
- Champagne Henri Giraud is a relatively small producer offering fantastic quality Champagnes. Try the Esprit de Giraud Blanc de Blancs for a pure expression of Chardonnay from the region, or for something extra special consider the Henri Giraud Argonne 2002, a superlative vintage Champagne that will seriously impress in any situation.
Champagne is great, sure, but it’s pretty expensive. Maybe you’ve got a midweek date or you’re looking for something like Ayala Champagne without the price tag. Cava should be your go-to beverage in this case. Cava is made in the same traditional method as Champagne, so at its best it can offer a highly nuanced sparkling wine reminiscent of classic Champagne flavours without the accompanying price tag. Here’s what we like at the moment:
- Bodegas Muga is a top producer of Rioja wines, but did you know that they make great Cava too? Muga Conde de Haro Brut is top notch, and they make a thirst-quenching rosé too, Muga Conde de Haro Brut Rosé. These non-vintage wines are blends of wines from a number of years to guarantee a consistent Muga house style. Learn more about Muga and its wines here.
- Just to prove that Cava can hang at the very top with fine Champagne, consider something from Cavas Recaredo, who make fantastic vintage Cava, highly complex and age-worthy just like a vintage Champagne. Made 100% from the Xarel.lo variety, Recaredo Turo d’En Mota 1999 is something very special indeed, and can certainly contend with the top examples from Ayala Champagne and other grand houses.