The young and hip generation of grower-producers in Champagne have been an integral part of the region's explosion in popularity (and quality) over the last several years. But, if we reflect on the origin story we'd be greatly remiss to not start with the name Egly-Ouriet. The style here is one that certainly pulls no punches, and for that they're regarded as one of the region's most unique and respected grower-estates.
In Ambonnay, Pinot Noir's most cherished Grand Cru village, Francis Egly took over the reigns from his father in 1982. A choice was made at that time to stop selling grapes, bottle 100% under the Egly-Ouriet name, and convert all vineyard practices to organic. As rare as organic viticulture is today in Champagne, in 1982 this was a completely radical move.
This conversion is at the root of of the style that the Egly is known for today. With a treasure trove of old vines, the organic shift allowed Francis to naturally push harvest back to the extreme for maximum ripeness. The Egly wines are defined by their robust fruit as much as they are for their finesse.
In Ambonnay power is never on short supply, and coupled with the low yield regimen and old vines these champagnes could be monolithic. However, Francis keeps dosage very low (1-3 grams), and uses only the purest first pressing known as the cuvee. Addtional steps such as bottling at low atmospheres of pressure and extended lees aging give the Egly wines a very particular style. One that's known for its singular expression of terroir and flashy element of grandeur.
Champagne's greatest resource and authority today, Peter Liem, sums up the domaine well in his indispensible new book, Champagne:
“If there are any Champagnes that fit the often-used description of ‘Burgundy with bubbles’, Egly-Ouriet’s would be the leading candidates...Francis Egly has been making wine at this renowned Ambonnay estate since 1982, and among grower-producers today, he has a reuptation in the region second only to Anselme Selosse"
Les Vignes de Vrigny is comprised of 100% Pinot Meunier from 40 year old vines in the Premier Cru village of Vrigny. Fermented and aged in tank, and aged 36 months on lees.
Tradition is comprised of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 90% is sourced from the Grand Cru village Ambonnay with the rest coming from Grand Crus Verzenay and Bouzy.
50% Barrel fermented, and aged 48 months on the lees.
V.P. is comprised of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 90% from Grand Cru Ambonnay with the rest coming from Grand Crus Verzenay and Bouzy. V.P. stands for Vieillissement Prolongé, or extended aging – aged 84 months on the lees.
Les Crayères is the top single vineyard of the estate, containing the oldest vines of all, planted in 1946. 100% Pinot Noir from the renowed Les Crayères vineyard in Ambonnay, known for its extremely shallow topsoil and chalky bedrock. Completely barrel fermented, and aged 70 months on the lees.
Egly-Ouriet Brut 1er Cru "Les Vignes de Vrigny" NV
$79 per bottle.
Egly-Ouriet Brut "Tradition" Grand Cru NV
$85 per bottle.
Egly-Ouriet Extra Brut Grand Cru "V.P." NV
$113 per bottle.
Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru "Les Crayères" NV
$198 per bottle.