The emblematic wine from Francis Egly and the one that first brought him international acclaim. It was Michel Bettane, the influential French critic, who encouraged Egly to bottle this single vineyard wine separately and the first vintage was in 1989. As you may be aware, this wine was once the product of a single vintage, but this is no longer the case. Egly has learnt through experience that he is better able to express this magnificent terroir more completely when he blends two vintages together.
This cuvée was bottled in 2011 and 50% of the assemblage is from the 2010 vintage and 50% from 2009. 100% vinification and ageing was in barrique as always.
The fruit comes from a single, brilliant terroir known as Les Crayères, and the vines here were planted in 1946. The soil is hardly 30cm deep, then it's chalk, hundreds of metres down - hence the name of the site (craie is French for chalk). The old vines are deeply rooted in this chalk subsoil, giving the wine its classic, mineral vibrancy, woven through the powerful, textured Pinot fruit.
The concentration here is a product of the ripeness that both the site and its ancient vines naturally deliver. Les Crayères is situated mid-slope with a full south facing exposure, not far from the Estate's cellars. The wine that results is both a tribute to the greatest sites of Ambonnay and to the Egly-Ouriet Domaine. Assemblage: 50% 2010 vintage, 50% 2011 vintage. Dosage: 3g/LDisgorged: March 2018Time on lees: 70 months
“Few producers can equal Francis Egly in skill and experience, and larger houses cannot hope to emulate the cultivation norms…”
Michel Bettane, The World's Greatest Wines.
“What Larmandier-Bernier achieves with Chardonnay, so Egly-Ouriet manages for Pinot Noir: wines of riveting purity and concentration.” Andrew Jefford, The New France
“Egly-Ouriet is one of the reference-point growers in Champagne, with a deep selection of wines that offer remarkable transparency to site, vintage and variety ... These are among the most pure, unmanipulated Champagnes readers will come across, and the estate’s new releases are all highly recommended.” Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate
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].
GARY WALSH - THE WINE FRONT
This is a phenomenal wine. Almost smells like a pretty old Barolo with its liquorice root and rose perfume and autumnal lilt and scents of decay. It’s medium bodied with flavours of red fruit and citrus, spice and truffles, light chalkiness, cool mineral acidity and mild but insistent bubbles. Finish is long, rich and golden. My goodness, here’s one where I’m going back for another glass. Good Lord.'
A very striking nose with immense personality and distinctively richer, red orchard fruit characters. The oak is assertive yet fits in well adding cedary, woody aromas and spicy complexity; there's a hint of pepper too. The palate delivers an immensely concentrated flavorsome impression with ripe phenolics framing nectarine, brulée custard and blue fruit flavors. Powerful, detailed and balanced.'
ANTONIO GALLONI MW - VINOUS
The NV Blanc de Noirs Les Crayeres VV Grand Cru is the most powerful and intense of the Champagnes. Oak signatures are present, while the fruit veers towards the tropical end of the spectrum. Candied apricot, honey, roasted almonds, spice and pastry fill out the wine's ample frame effortlessly. The current release is equal parts 2009 and 2008, but it feels much more 2009 dominated in both its ripeness profile and overall weight. The wine spent an incredible 82 months on its lees. Dosage is 2 grams per liter. Disgorged: July 2016.