Bubbles in the Bath

Egly-Ouriet is undoubtedly still one of Champagne’s top producers, sitting comfortably alongside world-famous Krug, Selosse, and others. Under the careful stewardship of Francis Egly, a fourth-generation family winemaker, it has become one of the most highly sought-after growers, and for good reason. Francis has been at the very forefront of the ‘grower Champagne’ movement, leading the charge long before it was popular.

The family farms old-vine vineyards in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay, home to some of the greatest Pinot Noir in France. When Francis took over from his father Michel in 1980, his focus was to make Pinot Noir dominant Champagnes of impeccable quality.

He began with the soil. Only a handful of growers in Champagne follow biodynamic, organic or ‘living soil’ principles; forgoing chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals, and Francis was one of the first. The estate was also one of the very few growers who always refused to use gadoux (ground city rubbish) as fertiliser on their vineyards.

The Egly-Ouriet style begins with extremely low yields of ripe grapes. In the cellar, the grapes are gently pressed with the purest first pressing kept, then barrel fermented using indigenous yeasts and matured in oak. The wines see long ageing on the lees (a minimum of 3-4 years) and are disgorged with very low dosage. It is also no secret that he takes his inspiration (and his barrels) from Burgundy and was one of the first to produce a Coteaux Champenois Rouge (a still Pinot Noir). All of these elements combine to make Egly-Ouriet one of the finest producers in Champagne.

This April we have just taken into our cellars (LCB VT) a small mixed pallet of wine direct from chez Egly, and can offer you these bottles, subject to remaining unsold:

Coteaux Champenois Ambonnay Cuvee des Grands Cotes 2012 – 6 bottles @ GB£255 per bottle (ex taxes)

”A rare cuvée from low-yielding, old-vine Pinot Noir at mid-slope on a south-facing amphitheatre in Ambonnay. Aged 22 months in barrel (30% new).

Chambolle-Musigny-esque. I really do not know many Burgundies that stretch to this kind of mustard @ £255 per bottle. In Chambolle you would be paying a least triple for this level of wine.” – William Hancock

Extra Brut Grand Cru NV – 10 bottles @ GB£75 per bottle (ex taxes)

(base vintage 2012, disgorged July 2019)
“This rendition of Egly’s emblematic NV Brut Grand Cru is based on the 2012 vintage, and it was disgorged in spring 2019 with only one gram per liter dosage. Wafting from the glass with aromas of pear, crisp stone fruit, wheat toast and citrus oil mingled with hints of white flowers and praline, it’s full-bodied, layered and concentrated, with tangy acids, terrific mid-palate amplitude and an enlivening pinpoint mousse. The wine’s structure and ultra-low dosage mean that this is quite a tightly wound young wine, and it will merit at least a year or two on cork if readers can muster the necessary patience.” – William Kelly

Extra Brut Rose Grand Cru NV – 17 bottles @ GB£125 per bottle (ex taxes)

(base vintage 2017, disgorged July 2022)
“The Extra-Brut Rosé Grand Cru (2017) is bright and nicely lifted, with lovely red berry, floral and mineral character. Crushed red berry fruit, cranberry, chalk, mint and white pepper give the Rosé its brilliant upper register. Medium in body, with crystalline purity, the Rosé dazzles from start to finish. This is an especially airy, taut style. Dosage is 2 grams per liter.” – Antonio Galloni

‘Les Premices Brut NV – 24 bottles @ GB£75 per bottle (ex taxes)

(base vintage 2018)

Disgorged with just one gram per liter of dosage. It offers us sweet orchard fruit, dry peach, baking spices and fresh bread. Medium to full-bodied. Charming with saline finish.

V.P. Vieillisement Prolonge Extra Brut Grand Cru – 6 bottles @ GB£125 per bottle (ex taxes)

(disgorged July 2020)

A benchmark bottling that’s a staple of my cellar, newly disgorged Egly’s NV Extra-Brut Grand Cru V.P. is a blend of the 2014, 2013 and 2012 vintages. Wafting from the glass with scents of pear, freshly baked bread, nougat, praline and clear honey, it’s medium to full-bodied, satiny and concentrated, with racy acids, chalky structure and a long, penetrating finish. Readers won’t want to miss it.” – William Kelley

Blanc de Noirs ‘Les Crayeres’  V.V. Grand Cru – 2 bottles @ GB£225 per bottle (ex taxes)

”A blend of 2015 & 2014 vintages. One gram per liter dosage. Mirabelle plum, Anjou pear and green apple mingled with freshly baked bread, honeycomb and praline. A long and intensely saline finish. A brilliant wine and WP Hancock’s Wine of the Year 2022

2013 Millesime Grand Cru – 6 bottles @ GB£sold (sorry about that)

“Francis Egly has produced another profound Champagne with the 2013 Brut Grand Cru Millésime. If the monumental 2008 stands out for its power, structure and intensity, the 2013 is distinguished by its harmony, finesse and completeness; both vintages are very great wines but thus quite different in style. Wafting from the glass with scents of Anjou pear, crisp yellow apple, freshly baked bread, clear honey, iodine and fresh mint, it’s full-bodied, ample and pillowy, with a layered, concentrated and effortlessly balanced core of fruit, uniting precision and sensuality to compelling effect. Girdled by racy acids and animated by a delicate pinpoint mousse, it concludes with a long, penetrating finish. Is this the most elegant wine Egly has produced to date? It’s certainly among the most compelling that this high quality but initially underrated Champagne vintage has delivered.” – William Kelley 100/100pts

“Recent releases from Egly have been consistently nothing short of spectacular…” – William Kelley, Wine Advocate

“These wines are at the very top of the pecking order in Champagne today…” – Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Both Ivor and I have followed the wines of Egly-Ouriet since the famed 2002 vintage, and I cannot believe, and am amazed that we can still drink these rather limited fizzy-gems at these very good prices:  Top Notch!

´Bubbles in the Bath´ by Ivor Windybottom MW