Francis Egly’s wines were outstanding when we first offered them back in 2013, and the quality of his wines has advanced since then, reflecting his meticulousness and enduring desire to improve. Simply put, I regard the wines of Egly-Ouriet as being among the small handful of estates at the very pinnacle of Champagne production. In fact, I couldn’t name another estate where I find such quality and interest across the entire range. If you need convincing you need only try the Grand Cru Brut (previously known as ‘Grand Cru Tradition’ – Egly’s ever-dependable non-vintage, their primary cuvée – all sourced from Grand Cru classified vineyards unlike so many anodyne, run-of-the-mill NVs that dominate Champagne production and sell for heftier price tags with ease. The value offered by the wines of Egly-Ouriet is undeniable.
Major critics tend not to review Champagne in any particularly systematic manner, largely because releases occur on different schedules for different estates, but I read William Kelley’s recent review for robertparker.com of the latest Egly-Ouriet releases with interest. His accompanying introduction is well worth a read as I believe it encompasses the Egly approach and the quality of these wines. Also, it saves me having to write a similar introduction as I entirely agree with his assessment!
As I wrote earlier this year, far from resting on the considerable and merited laurels that he has accrued over a 30-year career, Francis Egly continues to refine and improve. The latest innovations include refrigerated press pans to immediately cool the must in ever-warmer vintages, a peristaltic pump to handle his wines even more gently and a once-again expanded cellar that gives him the space to work still more precisely. Just like his work in the vineyards, investment in the winery has been incessant. Starting from next to nothing when he began in the 1980s, today Egly holds the equivalent of some 700,000 bottles in reserve wines and wine maturing sur lattes—equivalent to seven times his annual production. His 2008 Vintage, one of the most extraordinary young Champagnes that I've ever tasted, is only just being disgorged this year. As readers will know, Egly picks ripe grapes and ferments most of his wines in barrel—some 10% to 15% of which are renewed every year, and all of which derive from the cooperage of his friend, Dominique Laurent—before subjecting them to lengthy sur lattes maturation, typically disgorging with around three grams per liter dosage. But the devil is in the details: no winemaker in Champagne is more precise or meticulous, from vineyard to cellar. I drink Egly-Ouriet very regularly indeed—the Extra Brut V.P. is one of my house wines—and I continue to be amazed at the reasonable tariff such artisanal craftsmanship commands in a region where those qualities remain hard to come by. While the quality of Egly's wines is an open secret at this stage, I believe that his latest releases number among his best to date. I warmly encourage readers to acquaint—or reacquaint—themselves with them. William Kelley, robertparker.com, 30th August 2019.
I could have easily written this section. To give a little more detail, I have added the following comments from a previous offer I sent in October 2018.
• All of Egly’s wines draw on fruit from old vines in the Grand Cru villages of Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzenay. This comment applies to his superb NV Tradition as much as the most heralded wines in his range; there is no Premier Cru fruit employed.
• All of Egly’s wines are aged well beyond the norm before release. Nothing is hurried at all chez Egly; each cuvée benefits, in terms of complexity, from extended ageing of at least four years on their lees in bottle, way ahead of the statutory minimum for Champagne. The Vieillissement Prolongé (or V.P. for short) is the most extreme example spending 84 months on its lees.
• All of Egly’s wines are low dosage (dosage relates to the amount of sugar in the liqueur d’expedition that is added after the disgorgement process. This adjusts the wine’s overall sweetness/dryness). In Egly’s wines, there is nothing to mar the sheer purity.
• All of Egly’s wines are capable of developing in bottle, growing in complexity – that comment applies to the NV Tradition as much as it does to the Blanc de Noirs ‘Les Crayères’.
• And finally…these wines are produced in smaller quantities than most of the Champagnes with which you may be familiar; they are not seeking to further the aspirations of a brand, but rather to represent their origins. They are a far cry from some of the near-debased, commercial output of many famous names in Champagne. Making wines of such high and unerring quality requires not only considerable practical skill, but equally near maniacal focus. That’s exactly what you get with Egly-Ouriet.
The new releases, complete with William Kelley’s notes as published on robertparker.com
NV Brut Grand Cru, Egly-Ouriet
£270 per 6 bottle case in bond
Blend: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay
Base wines: 50% from 2014, 20% from 2013, 20% from 2012, 10% from 2011
93 points, William Kelley
The latest release of the NV Brut Grand Cru (which will no longer be known as "Tradition") was disgorged in June with three grams per liter dosage and is based on the 2014 vintage, complemented by reserve wines from 2013, 2012 and 2011. Opening in the glass with aromas of warm bread, fresh peach, green apples and dried white flowers, it's medium to full-bodied, elegantly textural and layered, with refined structuring extract, a bright spine of acidity and excellent concentration, concluding with a long and precise finish. This cuvée amounts to some 50,000 bottles, effectively half the domaine's production, and it remains one of Champagne's finest values. Drink 2019-2029
NV Extra-Brut Grand Cru V.P. (Vieillissement Prolongé), Egly-Ouriet
£350 per 6 bottle case in bond
Blend: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay
Base wines: 33% from 2009, 33% from 2010. 33% from 2011
94 points, William Kelley
A blend of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 vintages that was bottled in 2012 and disgorged in early 2019, the latest rendition of Egly's NV Extra-Brut Grand Cru V.P. will be released later this year, and it will be well worth seeking out. Unfurling in the glass with notes of crisp yellow orchard fruit, pastry cream and almond paste, the wine is medium to full-bodied, concentrated and precise, with a layered core, impressive structuring dry extract and an elegant, pinpoint mousse, concluding with a long and penetrating finish. Even in the context of an impressive track record, this rendition of the V.P. impressed for its purity and definition. Drink 2018-2028
NV Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru ‘Les Crayères’, Egly-Ouriet *
£580 per 6 bottle case in bond
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Base wines: 60% from 2012, 40% from 2011
97 points, William Kelley
The latest release of the NV Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Les Crayères is stunning, wafting from the glass with pure and expressive aromas of ripe apples, fresh peach, toasted sesame and fresh pastry. On the palate, it's full-bodied, fleshy and powerful, with a beautifully refined—even delicate—mousse, a deep but open-knit core, brisk acids and a long, expansive and mouthwateringly lively finish. Despite its broad shoulders, this is a supple, expressive and charming rendition of Les Crayères that exemplifies how the greatest wines attain concentration without weight. Egly-Ouriet crafts some of my very favorite Champagnes, and this bottle reminded me to buy more. It's a blend of the 2010 and 2011 vintages and was disgorged in July 2018 after 72 months sur lattes. Drink 2018-2033
2008 Brut Grand Cru Millésime, Egly-Ouriet
£850 per 6 bottle case in bond
Blend: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay
100 points, William Kelley
Francis Egly 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. Drink 2019-2036
* N.B. For any new release non-vintage wines yet to be scored, we have included a score and note for the previous year's release and marked the wine with an asterisk.
Please let us know of your interest at your earliest opportunity as we anticipate strong demand!
All the best,