Domaine de la Folie, Côte Châlonnaise

Domaine de la Folie label

Country & RegionFrance, Burgundy
ProducerJérôme Noël-Bouton, Clémence and Baptiste Dubrulle
FoundedFamily property for three centuries.

These are splendid, intermittently brilliant wines that punch well above their weight. Classically styled, their whites seem to emit a bit of sunshine, even on an overcast October afternoon. And that Rully Clos Saint-Jacques is an absolute stunner that begs to be partnered with its Gevrey namesake.
         –Neal Martin, Vinous Media, December 2020

I begin to repeat myself, but the Domaine de la Folie’s quiet renaissance continues, as subtle evolutions in red and white winemaking and increasing care in the vineyards make their effect felt more and more with every passing vintage.
         –William Kelley, The Wine Advocate, August 2022

This graceful 16th century estate sits on top of the Montagne de la Folie, a long, high ridge considered in ancient times to be the playground of fairies and goblins, and a place where mortals dare not tread. The estate has been in the care of the Noël-Bouton family for three centuries now. It has long been considered a leading producer in Rully.

Domaine de la Folie sign

Domaine de la Folie is unique in the Rully appellation in that it is the northernmost in the AC and its 32 acres of vines are the highest in elevation. Moreover—and this fact leaps out in the context of Burgundy—all but one of its vineyards are monopoles. Lastly, unlike the main body of vineyards in the central part of Rully to the south, this northern end of the Montagne de la Folie sits on the same vein of limestone as the commune of Puligny-Montrachet, just over three miles away.

Immediately west of the domaine, the ridge’s flank falls steeply down to the village of Bouzeron, noted for Aligoté. To the east, the flank is a little more forgiving and it’s on this side that the domaine’s two premier cru chardonnay vineyards grow (it’s often said that virtually all of the world’s greatest vineyards face east). They overlook the old route to Cluny and a twelfth-century farmhouse that once provided shelter for pilgrims walking to Santiago to pay homage to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, a.k.a. the Apostle Saint James. Folie’s top premier cru vineyard is named after him.

Domaine de la Folie harvest in 1960

Jules Etienne-Marey, the great-grandfather of proprietor Jérôme Noël-Bouton, took advantage of the domaine’s hilltop perch to construct circular stone platforms in the 1890s on which to mount his revolving camera gun, a famous precursor to the motion picture camera. Those platforms still exist, suitable now for any mischievous little goblins that live in the pine forest that’s grown up around them. Marey was a professor at the College of France, and his contribution to society earned him a square and a statue in Beaune.

Befitting such history, the wines of Domaine de La Folie are decidedly classical in profile. Its whites always put fresh fruit and clear minerality front and center, while its reds showcase elegant fruit and structure rather than extraction. The domaine is also locally renowned for its well-made and aged Marc de Bourgogne.

Domaine de la Folie's Clem and Baptiste

Since the mid 1990s, the domaine has followed the principles of lutte raisonnée (reasoned fight) in its farming practices, plowing rather than spraying herbicides, forgoing the use of chemical fertilizers, and being conscientious in its applications of fungicides. Beginning in 2010, Jérôme’s dynamic daughter Clémence joined the domaine in a full-time capacity to take the reins. With her came her husband Baptiste (both are pictured above), who like Clém has embraced the cellar and vineyard work with a keen intelligence and a whole-hearted commitment. Their involvement has been a dynamic change for this venerable domaine, and it doesn’t hurt that they brought in the same consulting enologist that their neighbor Aubert de Villaine employs. These days Folie may well be making the best wines in its history.

Domaine de la Folie bottles

Thanks to Jeff Bramwell for the bottle shot.

The Wines

Bourgogne Aligoté
AligotéThe Aligoté grows in two parcels totaling just under two acres in the Clos La Folie vineyard. About half of these grapes were planted in 1973 while the second, larger parcel was planted in 1947. These vines are a stone's throw away from the Bouzeron appellation on the same hill. No wood here in the élevage. Production averages 4,000 cases.
Rully Clos La Folie blanc
ChardonnayThis walled vineyard occupies the northeast facing slope in front of the house. The current 4.7 acres of Chardonnay were planted in 1972 and share the clos with two parcels of Aligoté, a parcel of cassis, and a small orchard of cherry trees. Like the Aligoté, this too is raised entirely in tank. Production averages 1,000 cases.
Rully 1er cru Clos du Chaigne blancChardonnay
Chaigne is one of the domaine’s two flagships. Its eight acres of vines were planted in 1971 and grow to the side of its sibling Clos Saint Jacques but higher up the slope. Consequently, its wine is racier and finer, and these days especially transparent with its minerality. Like the Saint Jacques, this is now raised entirely in barrel, of which 10-15% is new while the remainder of the barrels are one to five years old. Production averages 2,200 cases.
Rully 1er cru Clos Saint Jacques blanc
ChardonnayClos Saint Jacques’s 4.2 acres were planted in 1952 in a postage stamp of a vineyard that faces due east on a steep slope (this enclosed vineyard should not be confused with Rully’s larger Les Saint Jacques vineyard to the south). The wine is replete with old vine intensity, finesse, and length. Year in and year out it is one of the appellation’s finest whites. Production averages 800 cases.
Rully Bellecroix rouge

Pinot NoirThe Bellecroix vineyard grows down on the slope that ends at the town of Chagny. Chagny was besieged centuries ago by one of the many marauding bands of mercenaries that ran around Europe in the Middle Ages, and a battle took place here that lifted the siege. Presumably, a beautiful cross once stood on the site to commend the victory, giving name to the vineyard. The vineyard consists of 11.8 acres and was planted in 1962. Most of the fruit goes into this wine, made with de-stemmed fruit with traditional punch downs and then brought up in tank. This is their easier drinking bistro red. Production averages 1,500 cases.
Rully Bellecroix Cuvée Marey rougePinot NoirThe Marey cuvée comes from a parcel with the best exposure in the southeastern corner of Bellecroix. It's also made with de-stemmed fruit but instead of punch downs or pump overs the cap is held down in the middle of juice during fermentation, an old method once favored in Beaujolais and interestingly enough used by Hautes Cances down in Cairanne. This wine is raised in both wood and in tank and is more substantial than its sibling red. Production averages 750 cases.
Marc de Bourgogne
Pinot NoirThis is an out-of-fashion double-distilled brandy made from the pomace of the domaine’s Pinot Noir grapes by a distiller. The process is the same as for Italian grappa, but grappa traditionally never sees the inside of a barrel (time was when Marc de Bourgogne far outsold grappa in America, but then the Italians discovered fancy bottles…). Folie’s marc—the word rhymes with car—is made up of several lots, the youngest of which has aged for a minimum of 20 years in barrel before bottling. This extended ageing, coupled with the care of the distillation process, makes for an aromatic, complex, and rugged eau de vie.

Tasting our marc causes serious addiction immediately, but it is a good one that makes you live very old in a healthy way. --Jérôme Noël-Bouton