Societé Jacques Bollinger, the holding company that owns Champagne Bollinger, has agreed to acquire the Champagne house of Ayala for an undisclosed price from Compagnie Financière Frey. The deal, reached late last year, was finalized today.
Both Bollinger and Ayala are located in the town of Aÿ, in the Marne Valley of the Champagne region. Bollinger will get Ayala's stock of 1.5 million to 2 million bottles, its production facility and its cellars and will assume its contracts with growers for three years. Frey will retain 198 acres of vineyards.
Ayala makes 40,000 cases of Champagne a year, including a brut, brut rosé, blanc de blancs and demi-sec, as well as a vintage-dated brut and the Grand Cuvée. "There are not many houses of that size available," said Arnould d'Hautefeuille, president and CEO of Societé Jacques Bollinger. "We have been neighbors for so long it's a good association."
Ayala will be run as a separate label, according to d'Hautefeuille. "Our goal is not to compete with Bollinger, but to develop the export market and increase the quality of Ayala," he said. The Ayala Champagnes have not been widely available in the United States (Wine Spectator has not reviewed them in several years), but that should change with Bollinger's distribution in this country.
Nicolas Klym will remain as Ayala's winemaker. Hervé Augustin, former managing director of Bollinger, assumes that role at Ayala, and Etienne Bizot, managing director of Societé Jacques Bollinger, is now the managing director of Champagne Bollinger.
Societé Jacques Bollinger also owns Burgundy négociant Chanson Père & Fils, Langlois-Château in the Loire Valley and a minority share in Delamain Cognac. Frey owns Château La Lagune in Bordeaux.