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.
2020 was the first release of white’s from Francois, but those who followed his time at Comte de Vogue would know he oversaw the production of Bourgogne Blanc and the ‘rare as hen’s teeth’ Musigny Blanc.
White grapes are pressed to tank, settled overnight. In the morning the must is racked off gross lees straight into barrel for primary and malolatic fermentation. Then a rack from barrel post ferment takes place and placed back into barrel in the main barrel cellar which is maintained at 12 degrees by temperature control. 18 months total elevage. Then the individual barrels are blended in tank, fined then bottled without filtration.
No new oak used for any of the whites, youngest barrel is 2 years old. Francois emphasises he only purchases barrel with very low toasting.
Firstly Francois is passionate about 100% destemmed grapes. Fermented in open top ferments, only pigeage on the Gevrey-Chambertin Le Fourneau and Beaune 1er Cru Champs Pimont. 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 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.
THE VINTAGE – 2018 to 2019
Below is some commentary direct from Francois regarding the 2019 vintage. From my point of view in very simplistic terms after tasting these 2019’s vs recent bottles I’ve reviewed of 2018 from Francois these wines are lighter in colour, less dense, immediately more open in their infancy in terms of aromatics and flavour. In all honesty if you have any 2018’s left I’d thoroughly suggest not opening them for some time, they have a long way to go.
Looking back at Francois’s notes on he 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 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”.
2019 notes from Francois
Fruits harvested between 10th and 19th September which is a relatively early harvest and consequently with the benefit of an end of maturity in September. Less early than 2018 and 2017.
Elegance, freshness despite the heat and drought but probably the latter led to a concentration of the acidity (not only the sugar level)
Very much Terroir driven, limpid, luminous, clear, mineral energy. Subtle jelly fruits and refined.
2019 has a “caring attitude which gives space for imagination”, whereas 2018 is imposing its vision and determination with a small possibility of discussion. Not to say that 2018 has an excess of brutality because it’s still elegant and coherent (of course if you didn’t wake up the beast, Music is silence between the notes). Simply a different mood of the Terroir created by the natural elements of the vintage.