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Rully – 2013 blancs

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I guess, when so spread-out through many, many separate visit reports, it may not have been easy for subscribers to string together my general enthusiasm for 2013 Rully blancs – but for me it became a theme of quite some consistency when tasting these vintage whites – much more obviously so than for the reds.

In order to check this impression I decided to put it to a much more focused test, so here, assembled with the help of contacts in the BIVB, are 25 blind-tasted Rully blancs – 8 of-which were 1er crus. But first a little about Rully…

The Village…

The village of Rully village sits below the eastern side of a low-lying limestone ridge named La Montagne de la Folie – the ‘Mountain of Madness’ – the other side of which lies the vineyards and village of Bouzeron. Rather than the vineyard track from Bouzeron, the more usual approach to Rully is from the east, and here your entry is dominated by the Château de Rully – a fortress first constructed in the 12th century – which today it is a beautifully preserved ‘Monument Historique.’ The approach to the Château is planted to vines that also belong to the Château, these vines have for a long time been exploited by the Boisset group’s Antonin Rodet.

The village itself is a mix of grander and smaller houses, certainly without the attention to maintenance of Meursault, but generally not too bad, and the ‘square’ at the centre of the town has a nice avenue of plane-trees. It seems generally a more ‘lived-in’ place than many Côte de Beaune villages, with plenty of people going about their business.

The appellation…

The northern Côte Chalonnaise appellation (1939) of Rully sits just a few kilometres south of Santenay, and on similar soils and sub soils to that and the appellation of Chassagne. The appellation adjoins Givry, Mercurey (the largest red wine appellation of the Burgundy region, bigger-even than Gevrey-Chambertin) and Chalon, and runs to approximately 357 hectares of planted vines – two-thirds of which are planted to chardonnay and the rest to pinot noir. The appellation also has 23 1er Crus, and these are planted to about 60% white. Since the 1800s, the village of Rully has also been an important home of some significance for the production of Crémant.

The premier crus cover 96 hectares and two of them are actually in the Chalon area. The fact that there are 23 of them seems to contribute to lack of particular renown – or better put, focus. Individual (named) 1er Cru labels are becoming more and more common – though mainly from producers in Rully – but it is still more common that Beaune merchants will simply declare ‘premier cru’ on their labels. Reds are typically a less glossy, less intense and structured version of what are produced in Santenay, and particularly so versus the reds of Chassagnes. But here I’m looking at whites…

The wines…

I’ve read commentaries to the effect that the whites of Rully can compare to grand crus – well don’t believe a word of it! They are also not to the level of the 1ers of the Côte de Beaune in general – but can often give Beaune and Pernand blancs a run for their money – and we all know how tasty those can be! Truth be told, people will generally buy the wines of Rully in preference to ‘better-known’ village names, simply because of the price, yet, many whites of Rully will deliver better quality and more interest in your glass than would a Bourgogne blanc – and the prices are comparable. The 1er crus really do offer a step up in concentration, but we (I certainly!) are a long way from being knowledgeable about their foibles and intricacies.

Here we have 25 wines tasted blind and then uncovered once the note-taking was over. The only ‘organisation’ of these samples was that the village wines were tasted first. Actually there was only one wine here, possibly two, that I wouldn’t happily drink – a fine, consistent result. There are a couple of names here where, in due course, I’ll look to make a follow-up visit:

Domaine Belleville, Rully La Perche
Fresh aromatic notes with a certain sweetness of fruit and a discreet impression of creamy oak. Wide, very good freshness, and with not inconsiderable concentration. Slightly exotic fruit but with a decent line of acidity. A strong start!

Château d’Etroyes, Rully La Chatalienne
Narrower, fresher, less interesting aromas – very faintly cheesy. In the mouth there’s more obvious acidity and the taste of cork? In order to be sure I requested a second bottle – this also starts with the smell of cork, or some particular mineral element – but it’s soon gone. The flavour is direct and with a not particularly ripe acidity – mordant as the French would say – though definitely with an impression of plenty of minerality. The same finishing flavour as the first bottle – clearly not my favourite!

Domaine Belleville, Rully La Cree
This has a concentrated aromatic that’s part mineral, part soapy – it’s fresh and inviting. Yum! Big, fresh and a little mineral – here is lots of freshness and energy – a big kick of flavour in the finish with (again) plenty of minerality here too. A wine that really dominates your attention.

Jaffelin, Rully
Deep, inviting, ripe but not too ripe fruit, cocooned with executive oak. Lots of freshness – accented with a little CO2. There’s plenty of oak underpinning this wine – in the style of a new Pouilly-Fuissé though with a more overt minerality. Too much oak-packaging for a villages Rully? Maybe when young, but I think it will be outstanding when this oak has faded – say in 2 years
Olivier Père, Rully Saint Jacques
An altogether, fresher and more fruit-driven aromatic – wide, if with only a modest depth. Lovely in the mouth – with width and quite some intensity of ripe but fresh fruit. A nice burst of flavour too. Very fine Rully villages.

Chanzey, Rully En Rosey
A little more golden colour. A fresh, pretty nose that hints of flowers above but with a discreet depth too. Fresh, the third wine in a row with a little above-average CO2. A wide palette of flavour that seems a little more extracted than some, as there are plenty of faintly bitter phenolic elements which I quite like – a sort-of Chablis style. Good brio in the finish. A very good wine that will be even better in 1 year.

Louis Max, Rully Les Plantenays
Less overt aromas but it’s a round nose of ripe fruit – slowly there’s also some understated higher tones too. Lithe, with energy across the tongue, a growing mineral aspect and sweetly mouth-watering flavour. Excellent villages – yum!
Debavelaere, Rully Les Cailloux
More forward aromas of part ripe fruit and some flowers – the aromatic slowly filling out and adding a certain sweetness. Quite concentrated and certainly with plenty of fresh intensity – here’s another wine that dominates the senses a little – but this time with more class and plenty of floral accents in the finish too. Super-impressive villages Rully!
Debavelaere, Rully Les Chaponnières
A lovely mix of mineral and fruit with an accent of flowers too – really one of the prettiest noses so far. Wide, fine acidity and a growing, mouth-watering intensity of flavour. Bravo! Super villages!
Louis Max, Rully
A bright attack of high-toned acid fruit and a little creamy oak. Actually very nice texture too, and line of fresh, mouth-watering flavour. A mineral line into the finish – a lovely wine of character and intensity without ever attempting to dominate your palate – really lovely!

Chanson Père et Fils, Rully
A little herb, a little oak, but with a certain freshness of aroma. Wide, with some weight to the palate too. A very mineral impression, and concentrated too, the acidity seems ripe enough yet my impression is of something a little dour and lacking vivacity…(?)

Ninot, Rully Chaponnières
Deep, pretty, faintly oaked nose – with a good higher tone. Fresh, wide, complex with lots going-on, flashes of fine fruit too. This is complex and interesting wine that’s more about detail and complexity than overt line or concentration – it’s beautiful. Very yum!!
Ninot, Rully La Barre
A nose of weight but topped with freshness and interest. A fine, mouth-watering line of flavour. There’s really a lovely freshness here that slowly adds a perfumed impression as you head into the finish. A very good wine indeed.

Maison Bouchard Père et Fils, Rully
Sweetness of yellow fruit with an undertow that hints of oak. Again lots of mouth-watering freshness, but with a just a little cushioning to the texture. The finish is very much of the mineral art, and it lingers well. Very good villages wine.

Cave de Buxy, Rully Millebuis
Interesting, delicate high tones that hint at lime. In the mouth this is also a very citrus wine, mineral too – with quite some width of flavour in the finish before quickly decaying. Quite a different character to the average wine here. I really can’t decide if that’s positive or not!

Laborde-Juilliot (Cave de Buxy), Rully Les Saint Jacques
A big, fresh and open nose, with a base of sweetness. A textured palate, wide in scale with very good concentration. This is also a wine a little apart with a faintly saline minerality. Strong finishing wine, again on a mineral note. Impressive stuff.

Seguin-Manuel, Rully
A wide and fresh nose with a squeaky-clean, soapy note – it’s very inviting. A little texture of gas but there’s complexity and interest here too. Really good flavours in the finish that adhere a silkiness to your teeth. Very good villages…

1er Crus:
Jaeger-Defaix, Rully 1er Cloux
A mineral and complex nose with plenty of freshness behind. There is more weight to the flavour here, with enough balancing acidity – it’s clearly a step up from the villages wines. The length of flavour is excellent too. Good balance and perhaps riper, almost pineapple fruit, but very well-balanced too. Fine.

Jaeger-Defaix, Rully 1er Mont Palais
A direct line of flavour that’s more mineral than fruit. Hmm – this has a lovely width and weight of flavour. There’s, again, plenty of mineral aspect to the flavour which holds on very well. This is super.

Jaeger-Defaix, Rully 1er Rabourcé
Another, fresh, soapy-clean, nose – here underpinned with a discreet oak note. Lithe, complex then expands again in the mid-palate with some freshness that’s accented with Pouilly-Fuissé-style oak. The finish even has a faint dry extract. Excellent.

Belleville, Rully 1er Cloux
Again a 1er cru that has a mineral nose – tight at the top but plumbing some depth. The palate is less ‘together’ as there’s a little gas then the acidity comes to the fore – there’s a nice texture that’s holding this together though. I think this will get better and better, and the finish is lovely and again shows a faint phenolic dryness. Give it a little time and I think this will be very good – e.g. 1-2 years…

Belleville, Rully 1er Pucelle
Not so wide, but there’s a great line of aroma as you fall from the high tones to the bass notes of this wine. Wide, intense, acid-backed, mouth-watering flavour. Really growing intensity in the mid-palate too. The final flavours are sweeter and more fruit-driven. Another wine that needs time to settle I think, but one with fine potential.

Belleville, Rully 1er Rabourcé
Lovely aromatics – really lovely – flowers, minerals, fruit – all combined to great effect. A little gas gain, and almost a faintly tannic texture – but growing intensity, nothing aggressive and overall a fine clarity. This is really excellent – there’s an additional, faintly perfumed florality in the finish too – excellent!

Belleville, Rully 1er La Fosse
Fresh, clean, soapy and faintly oaky nose. Again plenty of gas adding to the texture. This wine fills the mouth – a rounder rather than a direct wine – the finish is fresh, sweet and a little mineral, but then there’s fruit in the mouth-watering finish. A really super and complex finish after a rather more primary first impression. Very good!

Ninot, Rully 1er Grésigny
A modest aromatic of lemon-yellow fruit and eventually a higher-toned freshness. Again gas on the palate but with a more obvious mouth-watering acidity which slowly throws up some creamy oak notes too. Another wine where the finish is super after a more modest start – quite positive for the wine’s development I think. Yum!

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?