Francis Egly is considered the doyen of recoltant-manipulants (along with his good friend Anselme Selosse). His father Michel made some of the first ‘grower’ champagnes, bottling a third of his crop. When Francis took over in 1982 he decided to bottle the entire production. Even today that amounts to less than 6,000 cases from his 12 hectares of holdings. Almost all of his land is Grand Cru from the Montagne de Reims: 8 hectares in Ambonnay, with 2 in Bouzy and Verzenay. He only has 2 hectares of premier cru vineyards, all Pinot Meunier from Vrigny. The latter goes to a 100% Pinot Meunier champagne ‘Les Vignes de Vrigny’, but the remainder of his vineyards are roughly 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.
Egly is frank about believing that the wine is made in the vineyard. 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. Not that the cellar is neglected. He is very proud of his two Coquard PAI presses, which allow for slow, gentle pressing but rapid clearing of the pressed grape and stalk residue. There’s no back-up of grapes for the press, and no oxidation.
What oxidation is allowed is minimal and very controlled: he barrel ferments about half his crop. He sources his barrels from his friend Dominique Laurent. The barrels allow the vinification of small parcels, and a less reductive ageing on the lees. Native yeasts only of course, no batonnage, and malolactic fermentation only if the vintage warrants it. No more than 8-10 months in wood. 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: the Brut Tradition and Vignes de Vrigny get about three years, often longer. The other cuvees are kept longer still, in some instances for 7 years or more. Dosage is extremely low, between 0-4 grams per liter.
The result can be shocking 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.
Point of Sale
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Les Vignes de Vrigny NV Brut ST WA
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Les Vignes de Vrigny NV Brut ST
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru NV ST Tanzer
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru NV ST WA
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru NV Brut ST
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru NV ST
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Tradition Grand Cru ST
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Extra Brut Grand Cru V.P. ST RVF
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Extra Brut Grand Cru V.P. ST WA
Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru ST RVF