My relatively limited exposure to the wines of François Mikulski had been 100% positive – and both colours too – I was also a fan of his mold-breaking labels so it seemed he was just the type of producer worth spending my time on. Harder said than done! I’d tried to get an appointment to see François for over a year but each and every time I was in the Côtes, and that’s nearly every month, he was already busy or on a promotional trip. Eventually by some fluke our diaries came together in deepest darkest January – or at least very frosty January anyway.
The domaine is set off the main road at the crossroads of Meursault with the RN74 (D74N). François is welcoming, perhaps just a hint shy, but our conversations blossomed when we began to talk of his wines.
François began by working the vines of his uncle, Pierre Boillot, eventually taking on the wine-making too. Pierre died in 2004, but François actually took over the domaine in 1991-1992; the Pierre Boillot label continued until Pierre’s death – François providing half the wine – only the bottling dates might be different. The vines of the domaine are mainly rented – currently about 50,000 bottles per year – or roughly 9 hectares.
Vines and winemaking
The work in the vineyard is ‘organic’ – but François looks for no label – and since 2003 he also stopped using pheromone capsules. Today only sulfur and copper are used – although it doesn’t provide a stress-free life says François!
The pinot grapes are destemmed; “normally it’s about 15°C so I don’t really touch the temperature, perhaps it reaches 31°C – a total cuvaison time of maybe 2 weeks, though I might warm the cuvée for a day or two before pressing.” There are no barrels older than 7 years: normally no new oak for the Bourgognes, the Meursault takes 10-12%, Premiers Crus 1 barrel from 6, occasionally 1 barrel from 5 – but never more than 20% new – Poruzots and Genevrières are now raised in a single new 500l barrel. There’s some fining if needed, and all François’ major operations are governed by the lunar calendar.
I love the label, 2005 was the first vintage with this label – “My wife liked it, so we were already two!”
Germany, Japan, Quebec and US are good markets for the domaine.
A few assorted wines tasted 17th Jan 2012; some already bottled, the others already racked into tanks for bottling perhaps in February. I was frankly lost for superlatives, because this was such a brilliant set of wines – but very low yields. Now who would I take out of the book to squeeze François in(…?)
From a selection of vines planted in 1929, bottled just before Xmas. Normally about six barrels.
Good depth on the nose. First impression is that there is good intensity of fruit though clearly not the over-ripe version. Just a hint mouth-puckering but the overall balance is very good.
From the same 1929 vineyard (near Volnay), but of-course just the pinot this time! Currently 6/7 barrels are produced, but will be augmented with new vineyards in 2011 to about 15 barrels.
Very, very pretty aromas that offer both depth and a precocious intensity. Likewise intensity of flavour and a hint of tannin grab too. I’d relish this young!
The nose is similar to the bourgogne (ie very, very good) but with even more depth and a certain plushness that gradually fills out with a dark mineral note too. Gorgeous width and depth with a little plushness again. Perfect acidity – love!
Next to Volnay Caillerets, only a one or two barrels each year. Here, and Latour-Giroud are the only makers. Vinifications normally don’t achieve as high a temperature as there is such a (relatively) small amount of juice.
Here the nose is much tighter, eventually a few dark berries are released from the glass. This is lithe and very silky. Just a super expansion of intensity in the mid-palate. This is a tad shorter than the Santenots I think, but I love the sleek racehorse style – it is just a little Corton-esque – lovely.
2010 François Mikulski, Bourgogne Aligoté
A very low yield (30hl/ha), so this vintage the aligoté was raised for 10 month in (3-4 year-old) barrel – normally it would be done in tank.
A strong core of fruit aroma. Likewise there’s a good centre of acidity here and a crystalline aspect to the fruit. This is a good wine with none of overly savoury aspects that Aligoté can sometimes deliver.
Vines close to the Cemetery, ‘behind Roulot’.
The nose has high tones and quite some depth – not so wide to start with though. Here the impression is of a fuller wine with an extra edge of sweetness. Lovely acidity which really, really pushes the fruit long. Lovely Bourgogne.
Spice bread on the nose. A width of beautifully balanced flavour. Not many words needed here – super wine.
18 year-old vines “now it’s old enough to make a separate cuvée, before it went into the ‘Meursault’.”
Higher tones on the nose with that characteristic, almost soapily clean 2010 nose. In the mouth this is more intense and bubbles along with more acidity than the previous wine. Just a little more length of finish aided by the acidity. Yum.
Less deep aromas than the Meix Chavaux but finer and wider with a little crystallized ginger. This wine just bursts with life; the intensity is such that it’s hard to keep in your mouth as it urges you to swallow. Brilliant! (Am partly stunned as François says this is the one probably drinking least well!)
From 35-38 year-old vines in Poruzots Dessus.
The first wine with a hint of reduction on the nose – slowly a little bread and ginger are released – though I’m not sure it’s ‘gingerbread’. Lithe and silky, this is another wine that fights with your palate trying to force you to swallow. Super finishing intensity. This is going very well!!
François has three different areas of vines in Charmes, planted in 1913, 1930 and 1998. The 1913 is reserved for a separate cuvée.
The nose is wide and squeaky clean, more gingerbread – it’s quite understated but undoubtedly pretty. Fuller and rounder yet very well balanced. Brilliant Charmes.
Also Genevrières Dessous; on part planted in the 1960s, the other in 1993 – the day that Raphaelle, his second daughter, was born…
The nose is fine and rather lithe. Intense with lovely balancing acidity yet the intensity grows and grows. Top marks again.
‘It was missing from my range so I buy some grapes’ smiles François
The nose is a little tight and undemonstrative. Actually this is a little less tight than some of the other wines, but this time I mean tight as in focus – it seems like Perrières but without the cut and focus I would have expected after the previous wines – yet there is a very impressive length. This is simply a good wine in the context of excellent wines. I took a chance and told François what I thought and… he agreed. “It just shows you can buy great looking grapes, but it’s not same as doing it yourself” he said.
As you might have guessed, this particular parcel of vines is coming up to a special anniversary. The nose has a dense core of fruit, again that characteristic note of ginger too. The fullest and roundest of the wines with a density and weight of extract that is clearly of grand cru level. The flavours just keep on going. This is simply a knockout wine.
Wider and rounder than the 2010s, both aromatically and from a flavour perspective but with enough acidity keep things nicely humming along.
The nose has impressive intensity right from popping the cork; a few herbs too. Silky and intense, this is lovely but then the flavour grows again just as you think you are entering a finish. Just super.
The nose is wide, faintly caramel and shows a certain sweetness. In the mouth this is full and round, it also shows quite some cushioning – initially the acidity seems almost borderline, certainly after the last bottles – yet alone this is a wine that won’t leave you unrefreshed. Some herbs in a finish that has a certain sweetness – not unlike the nose!
EARL François MIKULSKI
7 RD 974
Tel: +33 (0)3 80 21 25 11
Fax: +33 (0)3 80 21 63 38