CHAMBOLE | 2018 VINTAGE RELEASE
Winemaker / Director
Francois has been the chief winemaker at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé in Chambolle-Musigny since 1986 and continues this role to date, the custodian of some of the most prized vineyards in Burgundy. I had the pleasure of meeting Francois at his family home a few years ago, brought about through the wine he makes with Paul Pujol of Prophet’s Rock in Bendigo, Central Otago whom we also have the honour of importing. Whilst gratefully tasting through the 2015’s of Comte Georges de Vogüé with Francois and Michelle (accompanied by the largest piece of Comte cheese I’d ever seen) I mischievously asked if he knew anyone from Chambolle who might want to work with Francaboutwine in Australia. With a typically wry smile from Francois he informed me that he had started his own Domaine with his sons and planned to bottle his first wines in 2017. After a return visit in 2019 to taste the 2017’s in bottle and 2018 in barrel we are honoured to be able to import these wines, this being the second vintage release from Francois Millet et Fils.
Francois Millet et Fils was established in 2016 albeit due to the terrible frosts in that vintage they had to wait to start their first wines in 2017. Francois, Michelle (his wife) & their two sons are all part of the business. Julien works at Domaine Antonin Guyon – Savigny le Beaune in the cellar & Adrien works in the vineyard at Domaine Christophe Roumier in Chambolle. The house they live in belonged to a vigneron and is in Chambolle, overlooking the vineyards of the 1er Cru of ‘Les Feusselottes’. They added to the original cellar below the house by converting the garage and this is now the home of Francois Millet et Fils. We discussed the new 2018 vintages over Zoom, with Francois stating that Beaune and the surrounding region was still living with a 6pm curfew due to the COVID situation. This release sees two new wines added to the release, Beaune 1er Cru Champs Pimont and Volnay 1er Cru Les Angles, which have also been vinified in 2019 and 2020.
THE VINTAGE – 2018
Francois talks of 2018 as ‘relatively uncharted territory’, given that he highlighted 1947 + 2003 as the only two vintages he can reference with similar traits and he was born in 1956 :). Heat and drought are his key notes and with this removed any concerns of lack of grape maturity. He mentions he has never seen this level of skin ripeness prior to 2018. High skin to juice ratio. He backs this up passionately with “the land is still visible’, albeit handling the fruit with upmost care and respect as “very quickly you could make a monster” if over extracting. “Concentration, structure but not tannic, dark fruits not a surprise in a solar vintage” all part of Francois’s synopsis of the wines from 2018, closing with the advice that these are “wines to keep”.
Firstly, Francois is passionate about 100% destemmed grapes. Fermented in open top ferments, only pigeage on the Gevrey (explained below in the individual wine specifications). The rest of the wines pumped over by hand, drained off with a bucket and used to wet the cap. Gentle, considered extraction is very much the theme.
Francois ideally tries to prevent the Malolactic fermentation happening until Spring, brought about by using the natural cold temperature of the cellar. Francois talks about the primary ferment being a child, malo as puberty. Keeps integrity, precision of the wine. Gives the wine time to “prepare”.
All racking done by hand pump. It doesn’t pump the wine through the pump itself but works by pushing the air in and wine out. Two racking’s done during the elevage, from one barrel to another. First include fine lees post malolactic. The barrels are then moved to an air conditioned cellar at 12 degrees for their aging. When the malo finishes the aging “truly begins” in Francois words. Very strict on topping. Only the appellation used, not one big mixed tank.
Second racking is off lees into bottle. Bourgogne Rouge saw 20 months in barrel, other 3 cuvees 21 months overall. No new oak at all. Maximum in all cuvées will be 1 year old barrels, no new oak. Francois uses Raymond, Rousseau and Gillet for his coopers.
Bourgogne ‘Les Rues’ 2018
Situated on the other side of the highway, beside the village of Chambolle. Francois believes you still get the typicity of Chambolle. Key part of why is that it is at the end of the ‘fan’ of the Combe that divides Chambolle, benefiting from the breeze + lots of alluvial rocks deposited in the vineyard from the alluvial wash. This gives the vineyard a rockier soil than many Bourgogne sites and excellent drainage. Vineyard planted in 1973, 47 years old.
The Volnay is comprised of 2 parcels in the north of the appellation, mostly coming from Le Grand Poisots Lieu Dix at the entrance of the village as you drive from Pommard to Volnay. Francois wanted to make a wine from the Cote de Beaune & likes Volnay, describing it as ‘like an echo’ from Chambolle. Elegance & finesse. Vineyard planted in 1951, almost 60 years old. Bottled in May 2020.
Volnay 1er Cru ‘Les Angles’ 2018
A new wine from Francois following the inaugural 2017 vintage. 2019 and 2020 are already in barrel to follow this first release. The ‘triangle’, Francois loves the elegance offered by this 1er Cru. He highlights that 2018 has given a completeness to the terroir without aggressive tannins. East exposition, lots of Limestone near the surface. ‘Spicy’, ‘Oriental’, ‘Density’ just some of the descriptors Francois uses with this vintage. Bottled in May 2020.
Beaune 1er Cru ‘Champs-Pimont’ 2018
Alongside the Volnay 1er Cru this is a new wine from Francois following the inaugural 2017 vintage. Francois is passionate as many Burgundian producers are about the quality of the Beaune appellation, particularly some of the more regarded sites such as Clos de Mouches, Les Montrevenots and this 1er Cru, Champs Pimont. With a wry smile over the zoom call he remarked that ”the Cote de Nuit is not a Monopole on Pinot Noir in Burgundy”. The exposition of Francois’s grower is East but the 1er Cru does rotate round to the South in parts. As this was the first vintage Francois was cautious and didn’t punch down at all but highlighted he did use this technique in 2019 and 2020 as he feels it cans sustain/benefit from more extraction than Chambolle, Volnay and the Bourgogne. Mix of Clay and Limestone in the soil, 50 year old vines. He commented on the ‘crunchiness about the fruit in this wine’ as part of its personality. Bottled in June 2020.
Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Le Fourneau’ 2018
As you drive from Morey in the south there is a small valley at the start of the Gevry appellation where the Combe is, then you rise up on to the plateau. Le Fourneau sits on the right hand side of the road on this plateau. East facing. Same latitude as Clos de Beze. Apparently in the past there was a furnace in the area, people bringing iron to the site to melt hence the name. Le Fourneau means Furnace, pronounced ‘Four-No’. Vineyard planted in 1963, now 57 years old. Bottled in May 2019.Francois wanted to make this Gevrey as way of making a contrast with Chambolle and Volnay. Different ‘attitude’, he talks about the grapes needing ‘contact’ during winemaking, thus he needs to pieage that he doesn’t do with Chambolle Musigny or Volnay. If you don’t do pieage he believes it doesn’t get the full expression of the site.
Chambolle Musigny ‘Les Foucheres’ 2018
In Chambolle there is a natural amphitheatre at the top of the slope from the lieu dit of Les Danguerrins that circles north around Les Porlottes to Les Clos that starts with North facing vineyards and follows around the hill, making the predominant exposition East facing. Les Foucheres sits at the bottom of the hill of this amphitheatre, also East facing. The name Fouchères comes from the old French word “fayard” meaning beechwood, of course nothing left of these trees but they were originally planted there long ago.A compromise between the amphitheatre (freshness) and the good fruit maturity given by the 1er Cru Les Borniques below on the mid slope. Lots of rocks in the site. As Francois comments “Limestone. Pure, Tension”. Francois is very cautious with his intervention on this wine, very gentle. He likes the tension and elegance this site offers. Chambolle-Musigny les Fouchères was planted in 1970. Bottled in May 2020.