Les Hauts de Milly Petite Chablis 2018
I’m a sucker for white Burgundy of all kinds, especially the divine mineral salinity and limestone lip-smacking goodness of Chablis. And further, with the white Burgundy habit that I now having going, I’m an even bigger sucker for a great deal. This wine completely satisfies me on all fronts—a big job!, Here’s why:
Let’s tackle the price break first, and then the story and flavors of the wine.
Now if you look really carefully at the label (and you practically need the bottle in hand to do this), you’ll notice the wine essentially has two names “Les Hauts de Milly Petit Chablis” and “S&D Defaix Petit Chablis.” Therein lies the rub.
Domaine Bernard Defaix was founded in 1959 by Bernard and Monique Defaix with all of two hectares. Through hard work, this loving couple grew the domaine to 33 hectares by the late 1990s, when they passed it onto their sons, Sylvain and Didier. Along with Helene, Sylvain’s wife, the three of them now split the tasks of vineyard, winemaking, and bookkeeping. By 2000 the winery was certified organic and starting to practice biodynamics.
Now the price – As you might expect with this historic domaine, they have developed ties in certain countries to specific wholesalers. What you might not expect is that to the French farmer, the U.S. states all look and act like different countries (because of our differing alcohol laws). So what to do when a US national importer offers to buy your wine but you don’t want to ruin old relationships? You take your same wines and put them under a different label. Thus handling legal compliance for everyone involved. To sum up, this means were getting Domaine Defaix’s Chablis at a heck of a price.
Now to the wine: Milly is a tiny village just outside of Chablis, and I mean just outside. You can punch it on a map and see that its about a five minute stroll down the Route d’Auxerre. The “Haut” being the upper slopes that surround this tiny village. Because these are the upper slopes the wine gets the “Petit” designation instead of being just “Chablis.”
Does this matter to you? Yes, because in these warm vintages coming from Burgundy, the upper slopes planted on Kimmeridgian hillsides retain the utter freshness and verve that you’ve come to love in Chablis:
Clocking in at a delightfully fresh and drinkable 12% alcohol, the wine opens with notes of white peach, white grapefruit, salted lime and lemon verbena all floating like a halo above its calcium and mineral bedrock of limestone. It is hard to describe the palate, because here is a white wine like no other – it is at once dense, tactile and impressively woven with layers of calcium stoniness, while still holding a racy, citrusy kick. For all its complexity, it is utterly gulpable now.
And best of all, we got it at a killer price!