A Bonny Ambonnay…
Champagne Elgy-Ouriet, Montagne de Reims, is owned by Francis Egly and is considered today as one of the most conscientious and skilled vignerons in Champagne. He avoids the common practice of high yields and blending to produce a house style. Instead his environmental practices, such as ‘green harvesting’ produce champagne that is terroir expressive.
Francis Egly has been making wine at his Ambonnay estate since 1982, and among grower-producers today, he has a reputation in the region secondly only to Anselme Selosse. Of his 12 hecatres under vine, eight of them are in Ambonnay, with the rest being in Bouzy & Verzenay as well as 2 hecatres of Pinot-Meunier in Vrigny in the Petite Montagne which he uses to make the savory, generously textured Les Vignes de Vrigny. Francis Egly has always harvested his grapes at an unusually high level of ripeness, helped by old vines and low yields. He vinifies roughly half of his production in oak barrels purchased from Dominique Laurent in Burgundy. Once the wines are bottled, they are aged for a long time on their lees, which he believes contributes to a greater potential of further aging after the wine is released onto the market.
Egly’s Champagnes are powerful and rich, although they are also capable of great complexity and finesse. Dosage is extremely low, typically between 1 and 3 grams per litre across the range, which adds to the uncompromising personality of these wines. His non vintage Brut Tradition is vibrant and densley flavored, made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. A similar blend is used as the base for his Brut Rose, blended with about 8% of red wine (Bouzy). The rest of his Champagnes are all pure Ambonnay fruit. The V.P. Extra Brut sees extended aging on the lees. V.P. means Vieillissement Prolonge!, normally for up 5 or 6 years that is. His Vintage Brut is aged even longer, up to a decade on it´s lees. The most exquisite of the line up, for me that is, is his Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, a singlee vineyard Champagne made of old Pinot Noir vines that grow on the chalky soils of Les Crayeres, at the top of Ambonnay. These vines where planted back in 1946 & 1947 and produce an intense & concentrated Champagne.
Kelly recently tasted the 2008 Brut and the Brut Rose. He had this to report back to us:
Francis and I tasted a bottle trial disgorgement of the 2008 Brut Grand Cru Millésime that saw six grams per liter dosage, and the wine surpassed even my high expectations. Wafting from the glass with scents of crisp orchard fruit, Meyer lemon, praline, warm bread and walnuts, it’s full-bodied, deep and multi-dimensional, with an immensely layered, concentrated core that cloaks its racy but ripe spine of acidity, abundant but refined structuring dry extract and an incredibly long, precise and sapid finish. It represents the confluence of a great vigneron at the peak of his powers with a historic vintage, and it’s unquestionably the finest 2008 Champagne that I’ve tasted to date. Egly and I agreed that it might be even better with only five grams per liter dosage, but we’ll see what he finally decides when he disgorges the wine later this year. What is clear is that the the 2008 Brut Grand Cru Millésime will be worth any and every effort to seek out once it arrives on the market. (100/100pts)
The NV Brut Rose Grand Cru is made from vineyards in Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzy. This is another totally convincing wine from Egly-Ouriet, not to mention one of the strongest wines in the line-up. The Rose Grand Cru captivates for its gorgeous, fragrant fruit and silky, refined finish. It is a jewel of a wine. (93/100pts)
Our own tasting note on the NV Brut Rose (disgorged July 2015) from a lunch down here in 2019: Rich and vinous, with a thread of ground spice and graphite unraveling through the flavors of blackberry pâte de fruit, white peach puree, candied ginger and toasted almond. The refined, tightly knit mousse plays off of the sleek acidity, creating a mouthwatering impression on the lasting finish. (Note to Hancock, ‘buy more of this wine in case quantity’)
Since publishing this small blog note on Champagne Egly-Ouriet we have been in-undated with orders and enquiries. 99% sold out!
Our next shipment arrives at LCB VT end of Nov.2021.
Please ask for prices, should you have interest, and of course availability: william@worldwineconsultants. com