Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Champagne NV - Organic
Domaine Egly-Ouriet Champagne is sensual, unforgettable and highly sought after, a “cult” wine for Champagne lovers who crave the power and finesse of Pinot Noir-based wines. What you’ll find at this small family “grower” house is truly vinous Champagne, wines striking in their concentration and complexity.
There are winemakers who craft fine wine, and then there are artists who redefine the craft. During the transition in the 1980s from Michael Egly to his son, Francis, it was clear that Francis wasn’t going to be satisfied with the Champagne status quo. He doesn’t consider his competition among the great Champagne houses, but instead among the legendary producers of Burgundy.
Egly’s practice of harvesting very ripe grapes and aging his wines in barrel for years longer than almost any other Champagne house are some of the practices that set his art apart from the rest; yet it is the results that captivate. Egly-Ouriet Champagne is age-worthy, sumptuous, and at times surreal; these bottles are unquestionably the pinnacle of Pinot Noir-based Champagne.
Francis Egly’s grand cru vineyards are located in the villages of Ambonnay, Verzenay and Bouzy; premier cru Pinot Meunier vineyards are located in the village of Vrigny (on the Petite Montagne). Grand cru vineyards are planted to 70 percent Pinot Noir and 30 percent Chardonnay; vines are on average 40 years old. Above all, diligent work in the vineyards to control yields with the goal of obtaining truly ripe grapes (unusual for Champagne) is Egly’s primary philosophy.
Grapes are harvested by hand and pressed full cluster in a refrigerated, gentle press that is designed to avoid any chance of oxidation. Juice is fermented on indigenous yeasts, partially in French oak barrels (purchased from Burgundian winemaker Dominique Laurent) and partially in tank. Malolactic fermentation is allowed or blocked depending on the needs of the vintage.
Wines spend an especially prolonged time on fine lees in bottle, with three to four years the minimum, a choice that differentiates Egly’s textured, supple wines from thinner commercial Champagnes. Dosage before bottling is very low, seldom more than 2-5 grams/L. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered
Estate vineyards (planted in the 1970s) are located in the villages of Ambonnay, Verzenay, and Bouzy, villages located on the Montagne de Reims. Soils combine chalk and limestone.
75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay from 35- to 40-year-old vines; 50% from 2017, 30% 2016, 20% form 2015. From 90% Ambonnay Grand Cru, 10% Bouzy Grand Cru and Verzenay Grand Cru. Fermented and aged in (10% new) Burgundy barrels, with indigenous yeasts and no malo. Aged 48 months on the lees, with a dosage of 1g/l. Unfined and unfiltered
Crushed almonds over a peach tart and a touch of cherry juice show in the wine's complex perfumes. Fresh ginger and lemon zest are lively on the palate, with savory notes of lemon butter and toast adding complexity and depth. A remarkably fresh yet profound "basic" Brut that is leagues above many other comparable bottles.
On the nose: Aromas of fresh pears, light pepper, red fruit. On the palate: Flavors of mixed red fruits, lemon zest, mixed peppers; creamy.
93 Wine Spectator: Chiseled acidity provides a firm definition for this chalky Champagne, though it's swathed on the palate by a creamy range of flavors, including passion fruit coulis, toasted almond, blood orange sorbet, and lime blossom. A streak of salinity races on the finish.