Most folks are familiar with the concept of supply and demand, where an increase in demand for a category that cannot substantially change its production will predictably cause a rise in acquisition costs. White Burgundy is something of a poster child for this. What used to buy a good Premier Cru will now get you only a village bottling and even those are quite a bit more than they used to be. The solution has been to find the lesser known sections of the Cote d’Or, like Saint Romain and Saint Aubin where a top producer can make some pretty compelling wines, and the area didn’t necessarily command super-premium prices. Sadly the ‘good stuff’ from such appellations has escalated over the last few years.
What to do if you want great white Burgundy? Look south to the top sources in the Cotes Chalonnaise. One can still find the occasional domaine that is making exciting Chardonnay for considerably more palatable prices. Rully, at the northern end of the Cote Chalonnaise, certainly offers some fine options. According to the Wine Advocate’s William Kelley, Domaine de la Folie is one of those. His notes, “Once renowned as the source of some of the appellation’s finest white wines, this 14-hectare domaine in Rully flies somewhat under the radar, but its pure and elegant offerings are still well worth seeking out. Classy but flavorful, they’re dependably delicious.”
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, all but one of its vineyards are monopoles (which means the estate owns the entire vineyard). 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.
The estate has been in the care of the Noël-Bouton family for three centuries now. The domaine’s two flagship holdings are facing east on the hill with the Rully 1er Cru Clos du Chaigne sitting next to but higher on the hill than the Rully 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques. We sold the Clos St. Jacques last year but this time around, tasting the two side by side, the racier, more insistent Clos du Chaigne won the day, though both were impressive. The Clos du Chaigne’s eight acres of vines were planted in 1971. So you’ve got vines nearly a half-century old sitting in limestone soils facing east in an elevated exposure. That’s a pretty impressive recipe for success.
The grapes are farmed lute resonee (which means they won’t do anything like spray unless it’s absolutely unavoidable) and the wine is raised roughly 60% in tank and 40% in oak, part of which is new. The minerality and florality show in the nose with a little bit of a honeyed tone to broaden the spectrum. In the mouth, you get apples, pears, a touch of honey, and well infused, delicate minerality, with plenty of flesh but a nice lift to the mid-palate and great drive through the finish. The wines of Domaine de La Folie are decidedly classical in profile and the whites always put fresh fruit and clear minerality front and center. The Domaine de La Folie Rully 1er Cru Clos du Chaigne 2017 is serious, character-filled white Burgundy and, in today’s heated market, rather a deal as well.