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"This is their most classically styled cuvée, and it has all the hallmarks of this great producer. Weight and power – but lift and drive too."
Yet another striking release of this wine, this is made exclusively from Grand Cru vines predominantly in Ambonnay but also Bouzy and Verzenay. It's 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from low-yielding, perfectly tended vines that have been harvested fully ripe. Natural fermentation was with wild yeasts only and the first period of maturation (before going to bottle) lasted almost one year, with the wine remaining on its fine lees for the whole time. The wine clarified slowly and naturally--as was once typical across the region--and as such there was no fining nor filtration. Over 50% of the wine was fermented and aged in oak casks. The dosage was at three grams per litre, so extra-brut territory.
Make no mistake, even with this wine, we are already soaring to remarkable heights of quality. If Egly made only this Brut, he would still be one of the superstars of the region. Yes, the price has risen over the years, but by today's standards it is a bargain. To put things bluntly, this is a wine that puts to shame many a prestige cuvée at considerably higher prices.
Tasting notes: Champagne Grand Cru Brut from Egly-Ouriet shows delicate aromas of nuts balanced by hints of citrus, opening then towards a more complex wine. Refined, rich, yet lively attack with a great structure, notes of brioche and a great freshness in the long finish.
92 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
“Based on the 2017 vintage, Egly’s NV Brut Grand Cru unwinds in the glass with aromas of pear, freshly baked bread, lemon zest, tangerine and praline. Full-bodied, layered and elegantly muscular, with terrific concentration, racy acids and chalky structure, it concludes with a long, gently honeyed finish. Egly has always been enthusiastic about the quality of his Ambonnay fruit in 2017, and this bottling certainly validates his early confidence.”
Egly-Ouriet - pronounced pretty much as it reads: egg-lee oo-ree-ay - along with Selosse and Larmandier-Bernier, make up the holy trinity of great grower Champagnes. They are some of only a handful of growers who follow biodynamic, organic or 'living soil' principals of viticulture. These three producers do not use chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides or chemical anti-fungal sprays; they work on very low yields (roughly half the regional average); produce vineyard or village specific wines; minimise the use of sugar addition and follow a very natural winemaking regime with no fining or filtration and low levels of sulphur. All these factors combined – in particular the belief in ‘site-specific’ wines - is offering a wonderful challenge to the traditional Champagne methodology of high yields, high dosage and blending across many communes to achieve a house style. In many ways, the Egly-Ouriet Domaine has been at the forefront of this movement. For example, the Egly family was one of the very few growers in Champagne who always refused to use gadoux (ground city rubbish) as fertiliser on their precious vineyards. The brilliant Egly vineyards (Grand Cru & Pinot Noir dominant), the natural viticulture and low yields and the high percentage of reserve wine used, are the main reasons why the Egly-Ouriet wines taste so different - so fruit-pure, intense, rich and complex.
Run by Francis Egly, this producer has become a cult Champagne for devotees around the world. This is the reward for very hard work in the vineyards and meticulous attention to detail. Egly-Ouriet is in Ambonnay, with vineyards also in Bouzy and Verzenay. They also own a remarkable plot of old vine Pinot Meunier at Vrigny, which is vinified separately. Apart from Vrigny, these are all 100 per cent Grand Cru, Pinot Noir areas. As such, the wines are Pinot dominant, rich and powerful with deep colours, hedonistic aromas and explosive, layered personalities in the mouth. If you have never tasted the wines of this producer, be prepared for wines that have nothing to do with traditional Champagne styles. Egly-Ouriet is also famous – at least in France – for their Ambonnay Rouge, a 100 per cent Pinot Noir dry red.
Another point of difference is that Egly-Ouriet lists on their back labels the amount of time each wine was aged on lees and when it was disgorged. Egly-Ouriet is one of Robert Parker’s 13 top ‘five-star’ Champagne houses, along with Krug, Bollinger, Salon and other mostly well-known names. Like Larmandier-Bernier and Selosse, Egly-Ouriet has been rated as one of Champagne’s top five producers by Andrew Jefford in his celebrated work, The New France, [Mitchell Beazley].
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