At long last, the time has come! Champagne from the doyen, the acme, the zenith of recoltant-manipulants (that is, ‘grower champagne’) has arrived: Egly-Ouriet! Michel Egly was among the first in the region to produce wine made from his own, estate grown grapes, bottling a third of his crop. When Francis took over in 1982, the fourth generation of his family to tend vines in Champagne, he decided to bottle the entire production. Almost all of his land is Grand Cru from the Montagne de Reims: 8 hectares in Ambonnay, with 2 in Bouzy and Verzenay.
M. Egly believes that great wine is made in the vineyard (and he’s not shy about letting you know his feelings on the subject!). He also believes in aiming for full ripeness (12-13% alcohol by volume), still very much a minority view in Champagne. He looks for low yields from old vines (on average 40 years old), and green harvests when necessary. In the winery, his barrels allow the vinification of small parcels, for blending later on, and none of his wine sees more than eight to ten months of wood. He uses only native yeasts, no batonnage (lees stirring), and malolactic fermentation only if the vintage warrants it. There’s no fining or filtration, as the cellars are very cold (this also allows minimal use of sulfur). He believes in long ageing on the fine lees.
Francis’ results can be shocking, eye-opening, even mind-blowing to those used to grande marque and lighter aperitif style Champagnes: Egly Champagne is dry but rich, very vinous, powerful, intense, nuanced and long in the mouth. The remarkable thing is that wines of such power retain such finesse. There is good reason for the adulation Egly-Ouriet is extolled the world over.

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