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Tasting notes: Pale yellow. Aromas of spiced pears, yellow peaches, baking spices, warm oatmeal. Precise, spicy, vinous; flavors of ginger, red apple, citrus fruits, toast.
The V.P. stands for Vieillissement Prolongé (prolonged ageing), as the wine spends so long on lees--in this case 84 months. It's a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, with fruit from Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzenay--all great Grand Cru terroirs. Vinification and élevage was in oak casks, with the dosage a tiny 2g/L, seriously Extra Brut.
The power of the fruit plus the extended lees ageing grants such harmony, so much length and so much complexity and texture, that the dosage seems irrelevant. It's a vinous, powerful and super-pure Champagne of great depth and class. Intense and statuesque, yet with so much finesse as well. After resting seven years in bottle in the Egly-Ouriet cellars, this is now singing.
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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