Egly-Ouriet: a standard bearer for Grower Champagne

Egly-Ouriet: a standard bearer for Grower Champagne

by Westgarth Wines February 17, 2024

In the heart of the Champagne region, based in the village of Ambonnay in the Montagne de Reims, Champagne Egly-Ouriet is a grower-producer centered around making rich, terroir-driven expressions. Though the history of the estate can be traced back to the 18th century, the house has been Led by Francis Egly since 1982 who has been instrumental in carving out its niche producing some of the most acclaimed champagnes today. Unlike the larger, more commercial houses, Egly-Ouriet focuses on a hands-on approach to winemaking.

Francis Egly's approach to winemaking

Francis Egly took the helm with a clear vision: to showcase the potential of his family’s vineyards through meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to quality over quantity. The winery’s practices are grounded in sustainable farming, with a focus on allowing the natural characteristics of the vineyard to shine through in the champagne. This includes meticulous vineyard management, rigorous standards for grape selection, organic viticulture methods to maintain soil health and vine vitality, and minimal intervention in the cellar, ensuring each cuvée is a true reflection of its origins.

The wines of Egly-Ouriet

The non-vintage Brut Tradition Grand Cru embodies the house's terroir across multiple vintages. Predominantly Pinot Noir, this cuvée is aged for 4 years on the lees and shows vibrant citrus, crisp green apple, delicate notes of almond, and freshly baked bread. Barrel fermentation lends an additional layer of texture and a subtle hint of spice, balanced by a backbone of minerality and lively acidity.

The Grand Cru Brut Millésime is crafted exclusively from Grand Cru vineyards as a reflection of a singular year's unique climate and conditions, showcasing the house’s precision in expressing exceptional harvests. Typically a Pinot Noir dominant blend, it offers striking depth and complexity, with a rich, expressive palate. With barrel fermentation and 8 years on the lees, Egly-Ouriet shows uniquely smokey brioche, baked apple pastry, and herbs over a richly textured, resonant palette, underpinned by a vibrant acidity that promises excellent aging potential.

"Les Crayeres" Vieilles Vignes is Egly-Ouriet’s single-vineyard Blanc de Noirs, sourced from ancient Pinot Noir vines from the Les Crayeres vineyard. After spending 5 years aging on the lees, it unfolds layers of profound complexity, from succulent red berries and ripe orchard fruits to intriguing nuances of toasted nuts and delicate spices. The vinification in oak barrels introduces a subtle, refined smokiness, enriching the wine’s broad, enveloping palate. With its vibrant acidity and minerality, "Les Crayeres" Vieilles Vignes showcases an extraordinary balance, leading to a lingering, memorable finish.

The Vieillissement Prolongé (V.P.) Extra Brut showcases the nuanced depth that extended aging can impart. This cuvée, crafted from a selection of Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is the embodiment of patience and precision, aged for 70 months on the lees. As a result, it possesses remarkable complexity and a creamy, refined texture that harmonizes beautifully with its crisp, mineral core. Flavors of ripe lemon, quince, and hints of brioche meld seamlessly with a saline minerality and a whisper of oxidative nuttiness, creating a multi-layered palate experience. The Extra Brut dosage ensures that this champagne is both vibrant and lean, with a focused acidity driving to a long, elegantly structured finish.

The Ambonnay Rouge 'Cuvee des Grands Cotes' Vieilles Vignes is a still red wine that shows Egly-Ouriet's mastery over Champagne terroir. Sourced from old vine Pinot Noir it is a rare find, illustrating the profound depth and complexity achievable in the region. The wine undergoes meticulous vinification, followed by aging in oak barrels, which imbues it with a distinctive character. Its palette is a rich tapestry of dark cherries, wild berries, and a hint of spice, layered over a silky, robust texture. The use of old vines contributes to the wine's concentrated flavors and complexity, while the oak aging introduces subtle smoky notes and a smooth, lingering finish. It is a unique and deeply satisfying wine with the potential for further cellaring.

Innovation within tradition

While Egly-Ouriet respects traditional champagne-making methods, Francis Egly doesn't shy away from modern techniques if they ultimately improve the quality of the final product. This includes the selective use of oak barrels for fermentation and aging, adding another layer of complexity to the wines. The focus on producing champagnes with lower dosage levels also speaks to his desire to let the natural flavors of the grapes stand out.

The winery’s dedication to quality and expression of terroir has set it apart in a crowded champagne market. Amassing a loyal following among those who appreciate the finer details of champagne craftsmanship, it has achieved cult status as a grower-producer – especially since Robert Parker declared the wines "so good that I have begun buying them to drink chez-moi."







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