Les Hauts de Milly
Chablis, Burgundy, France
The family behind Les Hauts de Milly, Didier Defaix and Hélène Jaeger-Defaix, own vineyards in both Chablis and Rully through marriage. The winery and cellar are located in the small village of Milly, on the left bank of the Serein, where all the grapes are brought for vinification so they can keep a watchful eye over the quality and ageing of the wine.
Didier’s family has 27 hectares of vines in Chablis, which are farmed organically. Like many producers, they lost their organic certification in 2016 due to the merciless weather but have since returned to organic farming. The grapes for the Bourgogne Blanc come from vineyards in the Côte d’Auxerre, 15 kilometres south of Chablis, giving a fresher, racier style of wine than Bourgogne Chardonnay from regions to the south. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled, stainless-steel tanks with 9-10 months ageing on the fine lees before bottling. It has aromas of cut limes and grapefruit with bracing acidity. The Chablis comes from 12 hectares of vines on Kimmeridgian soils, giving the wine the classic gunflint and wet stone aromas. Like the Bourgogne Blanc, it is fermented in stainless steel with eight months on fine lees before bottling. Grapes for the Chablis Premier Cru ‘Côte de Léchet’ come from 25 different parcels in a nine hectare vineyard on a steep southeast-facing slope. Seventy-five percent of the blend is fermented and aged in stainless-steel tanks, while the rest is fermented and aged in 228-litre French oak barrels, which are one to six years old. Blended and bottled after 10-12 months, ‘Côte de Léchet’ is fragrant with aromas of white flowers and yellow plums on the nose, with citrus fruits and an appealing savouriness on the palate.
The Rully Premier Cru ‘Mont-Palais’ comes from two parcels in a one hectare vineyard, on clay and limestone soils, which belongs to Hélène’s family. The vines have been farmed organically since 2009. This wine has aromas of white stone fruits and hints of vanilla, with the richness on the palate a result of fermentation and ageing in one to six-year-old French oak barrels for 18 months. The palate is crisp and is superbly balanced with a lasting finish, offering incredible value for a Premier Cru white Burgundy.