Domaine de la Folie, Côte Châlonnaise


Domaine de la Folie label

Country & RegionFrance, Burgundy
Appellation(s)Rully
ProducerJérôme Noël-Bouton, Clémence and Baptiste Dubrulle
FoundedFamily property for three centuries.
Websitewww.domainedelafolie.fr

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 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.

Domaine de la Folie sign

Immediately west of the domain, 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 domain’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.

Jules Etienne-Marey, the great-grandfather of proprietor Jérôme Noël-Bouton, took advantage of the domain’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.

Domaine de la Folie harvest in 1960

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 domain is also locally renowned for its well-made and aged Marc de Bourgogne.

Since the mid 1990s, the domain has followed the principals 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 domain in a full-time capacity to take the reins. With her came her husband Baptiste, who 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 domain, and 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

WineBlendDescription
Rully Clos La Folie blanc
ChardonnayThis walled vineyard occupies the northeast facing slope in front of the house. The current 4.7 acres of vines were planted in 1972 and share the clos with a parcel of cassis and a small orchard of cherry trees. The wine is made in tank.
Rully 1er cru Clos du Chaigne blancChardonnay
Chaigne is one of the domain’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 raised in tank (roughly 60%) and oak (roughly 40%, of which part is new oak and part is older).
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.
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 domain makes two reds from its 11.8 acres, planted in 1962: the classic Bellecroix, made traditionally with punch downs and aged all in tanks; and the Cuvée Marey, which is made by an old method of holding the cap down during the cuvaison and in so doing emphasizing fruit. The Cuvée Marey comes from the vineyard's corner parcel that has the most eastern exposure and is aged one-third in predominately old barrels and two-thirds in tank. Both cuvées are made entirely with de-stemmed fruit.
Marc de Bourgogne
Pinot NoirThis is an out-of-fashion double-distilled brandy made from the pomace of the domain’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