Domaine Jaeger Defaix

The best wines of Rully should be at the very top of the list of people looking for outstanding value in Burgundy. Pronounced Roo-yee, this is the finest commune of the Côte Chalonnaise. The vineyards here are only minutes from Beaune, and share a similar aspect and soil type with the famous Côte de Beaune appellations. In recent years, the reputation of wines from the best producers of the Côte Chalonnaise has blossomed, thanks to the commitment of growers like Defaix.

To put it simply, the best wines are top notch, excellent value alternatives to the more celebrated (and more expensive) appellations to the north.

Jaeger-Defaix is the family Domaine of Hélène Defaix, wife of Didier Defaix (of Chablis producer Domaine Bernard Defaix). Most of the Jaeger-Defaix vineyards are premier cru and brilliantly situated. All the vineyards are managed organically. Given the family connection, it won’t surprise you to hear that the 4.5-hectare Domaine is run in the same earth-to-glass spirit as Didier’s family Estate in Chablis.

The connection to the land here is strong, and goes back to the 16th century.

The great-grandfather of Hélène, Henri Niepce, was instrumental in achieving and promoting Rully’s AOC status in the thirty’s.

Philosophy

The first vintage under Hélène & Didier’s full control was 2004. Since then they’ve built a strong reputation for refreshingly elegant Chardonnay and juicy Pinot noir.

The domain has begun its conversion to organic farming under the control of Ecocert in 2009 and the wines are certified from the vintage 2012 (except the AC Rully which is still on conversion).

Jaeger-Defaix’s newest red (Pinot Noir) cuvée comes from a small parcel of Rully villages located in Vorot lieu-dit, the 30-year-old-vines have been farmed organically for decades. This is a well-sited parcel of vines that yields small bunches of grapes with thick skins and concentrated berries. The wine is aged in seasoned oak barrels (from 1 to 3 years) for 15 months. Raspberry and blackberry, sage and spice notes inform a generously fruity palate with plush tannins driving the finish. Those looking for a blockbuster Burgundy should steer clear – this a juicy, elegant and rewarding wine with lots of flesh, but not at all heavy.

The Cloux vineyard is located just above 1er Cru Chapitre on the clay-limestone soils that are found in the best sites across Burgundy. This Chardonnay is fermented and aged in oak barrels for 12 months, in the Domaine’s ancient cellars and then bottled after only a light filtration. It shows ample flesh and yet it’s a racy, tangy wine overall with hints of florals, pear and citrus fruit along with a kiss of spicy oak. The balance is lovely, as ever at this Domaine, with a textured, poised mouth feel supported by a vibrant acidity that brings freshness and length.

The Clos du Chapitre is a monopole, located on the appellation Chapitre and entirely closed with a stone wall. This plot of more than 1 hectare is located just behind the family house. Fine, elegant and structured, the Clos du Chapitre shows a very Burgundian expression of Pinot Noir.