This is a top class treat to rival any of the well-known prestige cuvées. 100% Pinot Noir from an ancient vineyard planted in 1947 which is called 'les crayères' ('The chalk mine') after its deep subsoil layer of chalk which begins only about a foot below the surface. The vines have deep roots and their age and the free-draining quality of the chalk give concentrated aromas of red fruits to the old Pinots, while at the same time the minerality of the chalk itself gives the wine an elegance and a huge ageing potential. A full bodied, vinous wine, this is no aperitif, but more of a celebratory food wine which is a fabulous match for the likes of lobster or cold fillet of beef. L&S (Mar 2005)
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Rich hints of toasted brioche, coffee liqueur and smoke underscore flavors of baked quince, graphite and candied orange peel in this expressive Champagne, beautifully balanced by a vivid acidic frame. Lightly chalky and fine in texture, with a long, lingering finish. Rating: 94 Alison Napjus, The Wine Spectator (Aug 2018)
Some in Champagne can achieve grandeur of dizzying proportions, and the most talented can summon delicacy of light footed grace, but no village marries the two as effortlessly as Ambonnay, and no practitioner as masterfully as Francis Egly. Vieilles Vignes is his masterpiece, succeeding in capturing the golden sunlight of grandeur and chalk mineral airiness of his tiny amphitheater shaped lieu-dit of vines planted in 1946. The essence of Pinot Noir. (Tyson Stelzer's pick: a selection of great Champagnes). Drinking range: 2018 - 2023 Rating: 99 Decanter Magazine (Jul 2018)
Aromatic and spicy, with notes of pencil shavings, tea rose and star anise and flavors of blackberry, toast and citrus that glide across your palate. Drinking range: 2017 - 2025 Rating: 95 Alison Napjus, The Wine Spectator (Sep 2017)
Francis Egly is the current fourth-generation head of Ambonnay Champagne grower-producer Egly-Ouriet. He is against 'vins stereotypés', believing that his mission is 'to please but also to surprise', and insisting that 'the biggest mistake in Champagne is to go against nature'.
With the exception of the Pinot Meunier vines in Vrigny, the 9 hectare estate is exclusively Grand Cru, stretching across Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzenay. Pinot Noir is planted on 7 ha, Chardonnay on 2 ha, and the average age of the vines is more than 35 years. The exposure of many of the vines is south or south east, which gives exceptional ripeness, while the poverty of the shallow and chalky subsoil give a strong mineral streak.
The already high natural ripeness levels are raised higher still by the green-harvesting. Egly is adamant that acidity is not fundamental, and almost always sufficient, while bitterness is always fatal. An advocate of 'lutte raisonée' he avoids all insecticides, uses only organic fertilisers and continues to plough as his predecessors have always done.
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