Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Blanc de Noir Les Crayeres
Non-Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
This is what Champagne from Reims used to be like 100 years ago, Francis Egly told us, before timid winemakers started cutting their cuvées with Chardonnay. This single-vineyard Champagne from the noblest of terroirs in Ambonnay is 100% Pinot Noir from 70-year-old vines; the wine spends 51 months on its lees, and is fermented in barrel. "Crayeres" covers itself with the thinest of Champagne soil, yet its heart is pure, solid chalk. The nose is a sensual feast—cinnamon and cardamom; the zest of lemons and limes; candied ginger, cherries and crushed stones. Lush and almost thick on the palate, "Crayeres" shows notes of currants and strawberries, reminding of a still red wine. This is truly the benchmark for all great Pinot Noir Champagne—perhaps for all Champagne.
The Wine Advocate - "The NV Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru is an old-vine Pinot Noir bottling from the Les Crayeres vineyard in Ambonnay. The wine reveals exceptional balance in its aromas, flavors and textures. This is an especially open Blanc de Noirs that showcases the signature warmth of Ambonnay. The wine boasts gorgeous textural finesse and beautifully balanced oak. This is another winner from Egly-Ouriet. The NV Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru spent 58 months on its lees and was disgorged in May, 2009. 93+ points."
Wine & Spirits - "This is pinot noir from Les Crayeres, a block of the oldest vines of the estate. The current blend includes 2007 (60 percent) and 2006 (40 percent), with low dosage (two grams per liter). This is robust, almost tannic when first poured, emphasizing creamy lees and barrel fermentation. The strict structure of the wine begins to allow refreshing, floral pinot noir fruit to emerge, elegant and powerful in its mouthwatering flavor, with the cool welcoming warmth of sun at the door of a chalk cave. "
International Wine Cellar - "Bright gold. Pungent, expansive aromas of redcurrant, poached pear, honey and yellow rose, with suave mineral and toast notes adding complexity. Sappy, palate-coating red fruit and pear flavors become smokier with air and show distinct mineral character. Smoke and toasted hazelnut notes carry through a long, very persistent finish. Assertive and densely packed, with the depth to age and the oomph to go with rich foods. This is 100% pinot noir from a lieu-dit called Les Crayères, in Ambonnay."
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Winemaker Francis Egly has earned a place at the very top of the grower Champagne elite, and his wines have achieved "cult" status.
You'll find Egly Champagne on the wine lists of the world's three-star restaurants. You'll also find it in the cellars of those who know that while Krug and other top producers can easily be had for a certain (often exaggerated) price, Egly Champagne is both rare and exceptional.
Egly Champagne is produced in microscopic quantities; it has few peers in terms of quality; and if you appreciate fine Champagne, it is certainly worth going any length to acquire.
Egly cares for vines in the grand cru villages of Bouzy, Verzenay and in the heart of Ambonnay. His are wines with character—tremendously vinous Champagne that speaks volumes about the regional terroir and the ancient vines that birth them. Each bottle is a stunning example of the potential of Champagne as well as the bold vision of a truly talented artisan.
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About ChampagneView a map of Champagne wineries Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northernmost vineyards in France and the name conjures an image like no other can. An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon is said to be the first to blend both varietals and vintages, making good wines not only great, but also special and unique to their winemaker. Today, nearly 75% of Champagne produced is non-vintage and made up by a blend of several years' harvests.
All Champagnes must be made by a strictly controlled process called "Méthode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented for the first time. The blending phase follows and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped. Then comes the second fermentation, a blend of sugar and yeast is added and, this time, the carbon dioxide is kept inside the bottle. This process leaves a great deal of sediment that is extracted through a process of "racking" or "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged." After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add sugar to sweeten the wine. Finally the wine is corked. Some wines move through this process in a couple of months, while others are aged after the riddling phase to build greater complexity and depth.
Champagnes range from dry, "Brut," to slightly sweet, "Demi-Sec." Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are used in Champagne blends, but "Blancs de Noirs" is made entirely of Pinot Noir and "Blancs de Blanc" is made from only Chardonnay grapes. The high acidity achieved by the northern location is crucial to the balance and structure of these wines.
Not every year is a "vintage" declared. In years when it is not, the wines are blended with the produce from other years to create the non-vintage blend, the house style that remains constant from year to year. But in a great vintage year, champagne houses will bottle by itself the unblended year's produce, and use other portions as "reserve" wines to supplement and enrich the non-vintage blend. A vintage champagne can age quite gracefully, and gain complexity just like any other great still wine.
Mild cheeses like gruyere and shellfish pair nicely with Champagne. Also, oysters and Champagne is a popular combination. A full-flavored vintage Champagne can go with almost any meal.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.