At this illustrious wine event, a spectacular array of Bordeaux's finest was on full display, featuring celebrated estates like Château Margaux, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Haut-Brion, Château Cheval Blanc, and the legendary Château d'Yquem. Each estate, steeped in rich history and renowned for its exceptional quality, offered a journey to the pinnacle of Bordeaux winemaking. As someone with admittedly limited experience in Bordeaux wines, the excitement was palpable. However, after sampling these exquisite vintages, it's clear they've set an incredibly high bar. It seems that understanding Bordeaux wines isn't terribly challenging after all - it's just a matter of starting at the top!
Thank you all for joining us in the warm and engaging evening of wine discovery. A special mention to the MI6 restaurant for their delightful hospitality and the delicious meals that perfectly complemented our experience.
Egly-Ouriet Vieillissement Prolongé V.P. (d2022) NV
This wine secured the 🏅 7th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Egly-Ouriet, a name synonymous with excellence in the Champagne region, is steeped in a rich history and a relentless pursuit of quality. Led by Francis Egly, the fourth generation of the Egly family, this esteemed house in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay is renowned for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir-based Champagnes. Since taking over from his father Michel in 1980, Francis has been instrumental in elevating these already acclaimed Champagnes to new heights through his dedication to organic vineyard practices and meticulous winemaking.
The vineyards of Egly-Ouriet, predominantly located in the Grand Cru villages of Ambonnay, Verzenay, and Bouzy, are planted with a majority of Pinot Noir and a significant proportion of Chardonnay. The average age of the vines is around 40 years, reflecting Francis's commitment to working with older vines to achieve greater depth and complexity in his wines. This commitment extends to rigorous yield control, ensuring that only the ripest grapes are harvested, a practice that sets Egly-Ouriet apart in a region known for its high yields.
Francis Egly's approach in the cellar is marked by a blend of tradition and innovation. He employs indigenous yeasts for fermentation, with a portion of the wine fermented in French oak barrels sourced from Burgundian winemaker Dominique Laurent. This use of oak, alongside extended lees ageing, imparts a distinctive texture and complexity to the Champagnes of Egly-Ouriet. Most notably, the wines are aged on the lees for a minimum of 48 months, and in some cases, over 100 months, resulting in Champagnes of extraordinary depth and structure.
Egly's philosophy in winemaking is characterized by meticulous attention to detail and an unyielding quest for quality. He is a pioneer in many respects, from bottling single-vineyard expressions to using oak barrels for fermentation, practices that were once unconventional in Champagne but have now become hallmarks of the grower Champagne movement. His approach to dosage is equally thoughtful, keeping it very low to maintain the purity and expression of the wines.
The legacy of Francis Egly is built on a foundation of quality and innovation. His Champagnes, celebrated for their vinous quality, concentration, and complexity, are not just expressions of the terroir of Ambonnay but also of his unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Egly-Ouriet Champagnes are a testament to the potential of Pinot Noir in Champagne, showcasing the power, finesse, and sublime character that can be achieved through dedicated viticulture and skilful winemaking. Francis Egly's influence extends beyond his own estate, contributing significantly to the evolution and elevation of Champagne as a region capable of producing wines that stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world's best.
Vieillissement Prolongé is a Pinot Noir-dominated blend, complemented by Chardonnay, sourced exclusively from estate vineyards in Ambonnay, Verzenay, and Bouzy. These vineyards, planted in the 1970s, boast nearly 50-year-old vines rooted in chalk and limestone soils. The wine is crafted using hand-harvested grapes, fermented with indigenous yeasts in older French oak barrels, and aged for an extended 87 months in the bottle. It's presented with a low dosage of 3 grams per litre and is bottled unfined and unfiltered, showcasing the distinct character of its terroir, varietals and style.
Château Mouton Rothschild Rouge 2002
This wine secured the 🏅 5th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Mouton Rothschild, established in the 18th century, became part of the Rothschild family holdings in 1853. The winery is currently owned and managed by the Rothschild family. Located in the Pauillac appellation of Bordeaux's Left Bank, it is one of the region's most distinguished estates.
Notably, Mouton Rothschild was elevated from a Second Growth to a First Growth status in 1973, a rare and significant event in Bordeaux's classified wine history. The estate is also known for its unique tradition, started in 1945, of having each vintage's label designed by a different contemporary artist, contributing to the distinctiveness of its annual releases.
Château Haut-Brion Rouge 1995
This wine secured the 🏅 4th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Haut-Brion Rouge, with a storied past, is one of Bordeaux's oldest continuously operating wine estates. Founded in 1533, it is currently owned by Prince Robert of Luxembourg, representing the Dillon family, which has been in control since 1935. This esteemed winery is located in the Pessac-Léognan appellation, within the Graves region, and is notable for being situated within the city limits of Bordeaux.
Haut-Brion was classified as a First Growth in the 1855 Bordeaux Wine Official Classification, a testament to its longstanding reputation for quality. It holds the distinction of being the only First Growth outside the Médoc region. The estate is also recognized for its pioneering role in winemaking innovations, including being one of the first to implement estate bottling in Bordeaux in the late 19th century.
Château Cheval Blanc Cheval Blanc 1999
This wine secured the 🏅 6th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Château Cheval Blanc, a historic wine estate, was established in the mid-19th century. The estate is co-owned by Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, and Baron Albert Frère. Located in the Saint-Émilion appellation on Bordeaux's Right Bank, Cheval Blanc is one of the region's preeminent wineries.
Cheval Blanc is distinguished by its unique terroir and its atypical blend of grape varieties, primarily Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This composition sets it apart from other estates in Saint-Émilion, which typically rely more heavily on Merlot. Cheval Blanc was awarded the highest status of Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) in the Saint-Émilion classification in 1954 and has maintained this prestigious ranking ever since, underscoring its consistent excellence and the esteem in which it is held.
Château Margaux Rouge 1998
This wine secured the 🏅 8th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Château Margaux, established in the late 16th century, is one of Bordeaux's most esteemed wine estates. Currently, it is owned by the Mentzelopoulos family, who acquired it in 1977. Situated in the Margaux appellation on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, Château Margaux is renowned for its prestigious wines.
This estate was one of the four properties to receive the First Growth status in the 1855 Bordeaux Wine Official Classification, reflecting its long-standing reputation for producing wines of exceptional quality. Château Margaux's vineyard is particularly noted for its gravelly soil, which is ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, the predominant grape in its blends. The estate also includes a remarkable 19th-century château, which is considered an architectural masterpiece and symbolizes the elegance and history of the property.
Château Lafite Rothschild Rouge 1996
This wine secured the 🥇 1st place in our wine tasting lineup.
Château Lafite Rothschild, established in the 17th century, is one of the most prestigious wine estates in Bordeaux. It has been under the ownership of the Rothschild family since 1868. Located in the Pauillac appellation on Bordeaux's Left Bank, the estate is renowned for its exceptional terroir and the production of some of the world's most sought-after wines.
Lafite Rothschild was one of the estates awarded First Growth status in the 1855 Bordeaux Wine Official Classification, a testament to its historical significance and enduring quality. The estate's vineyards are primarily planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, which thrives in the gravel-based soils, contributing to the distinctive character and longevity of its wines. Château Lafite Rothschild is also known for its classical architecture and has been a symbol of the elegance and prestige of Bordeaux winemaking for centuries.
Château Latour Latour 1995
This wine secured the 🥉 3rd place in our wine tasting lineup.
Château Latour, with its origins tracing back to the 14th century, is one of the most venerable wine estates in Bordeaux. The estate is currently owned by Groupe Artemis (that owns Jacquesson), led by French billionaire François Pinault. Located in the Pauillac appellation on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, Château Latour is celebrated for its robust and age-worthy wines.
This esteemed estate was classified as a First Growth in the 1855 Bordeaux Wine Official Classification, a recognition of its exceptional quality and history. Château Latour's vineyards are predominantly planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape variety that flourishes in the estate's prime gravelly soils. This contributes to the distinctive power and structure of its wines. Latour is also known for its iconic tower, a symbol of the estate's heritage and a landmark in the Bordeaux region.
Château d'Yquem Sauternes 1993
This wine secured the 🥈 2nd place in our wine tasting lineup.
Château d'Yquem, dating back to the 16th century, is the most renowned sweet wine producer in the world, located in the Sauternes region of Bordeaux. The estate is currently owned by LVMH, acquired in 1999. Château d'Yquem is uniquely positioned in the appellation of Sauternes, celebrated for its exceptional microclimate conducive to the development of Botrytis cinerea, essential for the production of its distinguished sweet wines.
D'Yquem was granted a superior Premier Cru Supérieur status in the 1855 Bordeaux Wine Official Classification, the only Sauternes property to receive this exclusive ranking. The estate's wines are known for their remarkable complexity, longevity, and balance between sweetness and acidity. Regarding the Lur-Saluces name (which is printed on the label), it refers to the family that owned Château d'Yquem for nearly 300 years until 1999. The family's stewardship, particularly under Marquis Bertrand de Lur-Saluces in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was instrumental in establishing d'Yquem's reputation. As a homage to this legacy, bottles produced during and shortly after the Lur-Saluces tenure often bear the family name, signifying a historical era for the estate.
- Egly-Ouriet. Glugulp!
- Egly-Ouriet. Skurnik.
- Egly-Ouriet. North Berkeley Imports.
- France, Champagne: Egly-Ouriet, 1975-2011. William Kelley.