It was right after the second World War that the Egly House was born, when Francis Egly’s Grandfather started in the wine business with 3 hectares of vine in the Grand Cru area of Ambonnay. By buying them and then with a wedding to Madame Ouriet, the descendants Michel and Francis acquired another 9 hectares, among which the wonderful plot of Crayères, where vines are more than 60 years old. Francis Egly’s champagnes impress with the exceptional quality of their base wines. They are powerful, terroir-expressive sparkling wines that are mainly based on Pinot Noir. Given that the Domaine is one of the most renowned producers of winemaking champagne today, it has not been in this business that long. Before Francis Egly took over the helm in 1982, most of the grapes were sold to negociants. The charismatic and strong-willed winemaker changed this almost immediately and fundamentally, so that he was quickly mentioned in the same breath as Anselme Selosse and still is when the most formative figures of the champagne winemaking movement are mentioned.
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% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay; vine 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 when perfectly ripe, and pressed full cluster in a refrigerated, gentle press that is designed to avoid any chance of oxydation. 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.