Les Vignes de Vrigny Brut 1er Cru
A very unusual Champagne, in the sense that there is no attempt to make a cuvée (blend) this is a single variety (Pinot Meunier) from very old vines at a single site in the village of Vrigny. Francis Egly's only non Grand Cru rated vineyard. Soft, rich and quite elegant. L&S (Feb 2018)
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The NV Les Vignes de Vrigny (100% Pinot Meunier) is soft, open-knit and gracious. Lemon peel, flowers and white pepper give the wine its brightness and aromatic lift, while there is plenty of underlying creaminess to carry the mid-palate and finish. Gentle and caressing, the Les Vignes de Vrigny will drink well with minimal cellaring. Rating: 92 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Jul 2017)
The NV Brut Les Vignes de Vrigny 1er Cru, Egly-Ouriet's 100% Meunier, is bright, focused and quite expressive. Dried orchard fruit, hazelnut, dried flowers, mint and chamomile. Classy and resonant through to the finish, the Vignes de Vrigny is striking. All the elements are impeccably balanced. Drinking range: 2015 - 2023 Rating: 92 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Dec 2016)
100% Pinot Meunier. Very delicate and aérien. Open and friendly. Rating: 16.5 Jancis Robinson MW OBE - www.JancisRobinson.com
At eight pounds less than its Grand Cru sibling this cuvée, disgorged in August 2009, is almost as good with its alluring leafy and yeasty nose with lots of nettle and lemony clarity too. Very fine mousse, with those sour lemony flavours and its crisp apple acidity flooding the mouth. Wonderfully vivacious and bright. Rating: 93-93 www.thewinegang.com
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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