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The Chablis 1er Cru 'Côte de Lechet' is fragrant with aromas of white flowers and yellow plums on the nose with citrus fruits and an appealing savouriness on the palate.
Winemaker Didier Defaix's family owns 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 Côte de Lechet vineyard lies just above the small village of Milly, on a steep, southeastern facing slope. The family owns nine hectares in this vineyard, making them the largest owners of this cru. The grapes come from 25 different parcels in the vineyard.
2016 was one of the most complicated and challenging harvests for producers across Burgundy. Severe spring frosts in April swept through the vineyards in Chablis, greatly impacting yields. Hail and heavy rains followed in May, creating serious mildew problems which forced some in Chablis, including Les Hauts de Milly to forgo organic and biodynamic status in 2016. Luckily, consistently warm and sunny days during July and August afforded the remaining grapes the best conditions for ripening before harvest in September. Although the wines are limited in quantity, the quality is excellent. Leaner than the 2015s, they are characterised by crisp acidity and beautifully concentrated fruit.
The grapes were hand harvested. On arrival at the winery, they were gently pressed to retain delicate aromatics. 75% of the blend was fermented and aged in temperature controlled, stainless steel tanks, and 25% was fermented and aged in 228L French oak barrels, which are between one and six years old. After 10-12 months the wine was blended and bottled.
The family behind Les Hauts de Milly, Didier Defaix and Hélène Jaeger-Defaix, own vineyards in both Chablis and Rully through marriage, along with vineyards in the Côte d’Auxerre just south of Chablis. All the vineyards are farmed organically, and some are in the process of going through a three year conversion period before being officially certified. The winery and cellar is located in the small village of Milly, on the left bank of the Serein, where all of the grapes are brought for vinification so Didier and Hélène can keep a watchful eye over the quality and ageing of the wine.