Champagne Egly-Ouriet | Ambonnay
Champagne Egly-Ouriet is a real class act and has become a cult Champagne with devotees around the world. One of the original grower champagne producers and long before most people were even aware of the term, Champagne Vigneron, Francis Egly was meticulously tending his family holdings and producing multi- dimensional wines of great precision and emotion. The champagnes of Egly-Ouriet truly fit the description of “Burgundy with bubbles” given to them by critic Peter Liem for their remarkable complexity, generosity, vibrancy and signature vinous quality.
The vines are grown in the Montagne de Reims Grands Crus of Bouzy, Verzenay and Ambonnay, home to some of Champagne’s greatest Pinot Noir. Specifically, Francis Egly cultivates vines in one of the most sought-after and famed parcels of the Grand Cru Village of Ambonnay, Les Crayeres. All 30 acres of the Egly-Ouriet vineyard are farmed using sustainable practices and Francis adopts biodynamic and organic principles of viticulture. In both his sustainable winemaking practices and minimal interventionist winemaking, Francis Egly follows a model that is more Burgundian than Champenois in its approach.
Following a manual harvest, the grapes are brought to the winery, where they are gently pressed in whole clusters and fermented with indigenous yeasts in Burgundian oak barrels. The champagnes are blended from a vast selection of vins clairs (base wines), produced with a Burgundian obsession to quality. Francis believes that quality champagne is made with perfect quality fruit coupled with a gentle winemaking process and extended lees ageing. To this end, most of the Egly-Ouriet champagnes spend a minimum of 48 months ageing on lees with some even over 100 months. During this time, they rest peacefully without racking. While Francis does not like to stir the lees too much, battonage is carried out 2 or 3 times in order to help prevent oxidation. Egly-Ouriet was one of the first Champagne houses to drastically reduce dosage during a time when other houses were adding up to 15 grams per litre. Today, their dosage rarely exceeds 2-5 grams per litre and the champagnes are bottled without fining or filtration.
While some champagnes based on Pinot Noir can be quite heavy on the palate, those of Egly-Ouriet are beautifully balanced with great verve, always layered but never overwhelming on the palate. These are outstanding expressions and certainly not to be missed.