Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes Les Crayères NV
Vintages: 2016 (50%), 2015 (50%)
Disgorgement: July 2023
Time on lees: 72 months
In some ways, this is the emblematic wine of the domaine. It was Michel Bettane, the influential French critic, who encouraged Francis Egly to bottle this single vineyard wine separately, with the first release being from the 1989 vintage. This latest offering was bottled after the 2016 base had spent close to one year in cask before being blended with 50% reserve wines from the 2015 vintage. All the vinification and aging for both vintages was in barrel.
The fruit comes from old Pinot Noir vines in a single terroir known as Les Crayères. The vines here were planted in 1946, so are now 75 years old (vines of this age are extremely rare in Champagne). Here the soil is barely 30cm deep, then it’s chalk, hundreds of metres down—hence the name of the site (craie is French for ‘chalk’, crayères references chalk quarries which likely once existed here). Les Crayères is situated mid-slope with a full south-facing exposure, not far from the estate’s cellars. The old vines are deeply rooted, giving the wine a classic, mineral energy that weaves its way through the powerful, layered Pinot Noir fruit. The deep concentration is a product of the ripeness and low yields that both the site and its ancient vines naturally deliver.
The 2016 base is both a tribute to the greatest sites of Ambonnay and to the Egly-Ouriet domaine. Houses that emphasise blending may consider a 100% old-vine Ambonnay like this to be too intense; Egly gives it to you full throttle! This release is a wine of profound depth yet also great finesse. It’s still early days for the nose (if you open it now, give it time) while the palate is already stunning; a chiselled, mineral mouth bomb. The dosage is only two grams per litre and it’s invisible. An expression of a singular terroir, this is, of course, a unique wine that is, as always, built for food and for aging.