Domaine De Millet.
Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne , South West France, France
Southwest France is the new alternative to Chile for the best value white wines. Here the land is less expensive and it is perhaps embracing technology quicker than some of the traditional appellations. It is also benefitting from young winemakers like Laurence who are staying at home and choosing to make their own wine rather than sell their grapes. Add to this the cooling Atlantic weather patterns (which help keep alcohol levels down) and you have a go-to region for value and drinkability.
For years the grapes here were used for the production of the local speciality, Armagnac (a brandy) and growers worried more about quantity than quality. It was Laurence’s father, Francis, who realised the land’s potential for wine production. Laurence has continued on from this by bringing winemaking to the core of Domaine de Millet. She has been winning customers and acclaim since she took over in 1999.
Armagnac production remains a proud family tradition. However Laurence knows that the quality of soil on this vineyard has so much more to offer through the subtler and (let’s face it) more intriguing medium that is wine. The tawny sandstone soils are reserved for her red grapes (Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Egiodola) while the limestone and clay soils host her white varieties (Colombard, Ugni Blanc andSauvignon Blanc).
Attention to detail
While some winemakers focus on getting the most juice from their grapes by allowing the vines to develop lots of big, bland bunches, Laurence concentrates on flavour. She limits her yield by removing bunches which forces the vine to direct nutrients towards the remaining grapes. She also makes sure the sun can get to them by manually thinning the leaves as part of canopy management. This results in a lower quantity of wine but it drastically pushes up quality.
“I want to praise you like I should”
Her Colombard – Ugni Blanc blend is particularly interesting and expressive of Côtes de Gascogne. This is a crisp, refreshing alternative to some of the usual varietals and a good one to impress your friends with! John Wilson, chief wine critic for the Irish Times, gave the following praise "Lovely, plump, easy-drinking melon and apple fruits. This would make a wonderful holiday house wine, whether you are staying in Ireland or France.”
Chateau De Millet
The green hills of this part of Gascony are traditionally the domain of whites. Thanks to the diversity of terroirs offered to it and the richness of the climate, the vineyards of Millet have given way over the years to a more or less known red grape varieties of our Southwest: Merlot, Cabernet, Tannat