Côtes de Gascogne Wine
The Dèche family's Château de Millet lies about 4 kilometres north of Éauze in the heart of Bas-Armagnac and, perhaps unsurprisingly, distilling high quality brandy has been at the forefront of their focus over generations. However, towards the end of the 20th Century, rapacious enforcement of the dreaded alcool test combined with reduced working hours saw a steep decline in domestic consumption of spirits and so diversification seemed prudent. Happily, they continue to make excellent Armagnac (see 'Eaux de Vie'), but to underwrite their business and provide an alternative income stream, they grafted still wine grape varieties on to their mature Folle Blanche and Baco rootstock to produce a range of competitively-priced and highly-accessible still wines. Coincidentally, the dawn of the 21st Century saw some quite steep increases in the cost of many Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée wines so we were on the look out for good value Vin de Pays (now IGP).
In 2005, we chanced upon their terrific white Colombard-Ugni Blanc blend. It is bottled under screwcap to conserve its youthful fruit and has alluring wildflower scents, a zesty, citrus-edged palate and a whistle-clean finish. It is exactly the sort of wine to drink as a not too taxing pick-me-up after a hard day at the rockface. A subsequent, but equally commendable, discovery was their refreshing rosé made from an innovative combination of Syrah, Merlot and Egiodola. With a coral-pink colour, raspberry and redcurrant aromas and a palate redolent of soft red fruit, it too was a solid 'value for money' offering. Not to be overlooked are the estate's red wines - a mid-weight Merlot-Cabernet Franc that has forest-floor scents and supple damson flavours offset by supple tannins. Completing the ensemble is a mellow Merlot with hedgerow berry notes and plummy palate with a soft, supple finish.