Press trips like the one I'm on are not exactly the vacations that my friends and many readers imagine them to be. They are a lot of hard work, albeit quite civilized work in very nice places, interspersed by good things to eat and drink. Though I'm exhausted at the end of every day, it does, as they say, beat the hell out of sitting in a cubicle, pushing paper.
The pattern of a press visit to a wine region is fairly standard. Once in a region, the day is made up of mostly visits to individual producers, where I arrive, say hello, get a small tour of the facility and perhaps a vineyard if there's one out back, and then settle down for tasting or talking, whether that be standing in the cellar between barrels or sitting somewhere with bottles in front of me. The winemaker or proprietor is usually there, pouring me through a few wines, and answering my questions about who they are, why they do what they do, and how.
This is what I was expecting when I wound my way through the narrow streets of the town of Rully, about 10 minutes south of Meursault, at the northern edge of the region's Cote Chalonnaise wine region.
The first sign that I might be in for something different than the usual producer tasting came when I was greeted at the gate to Domaine Ninot not by the young Erell Ninot, who recently took over her family's small winery, but by another winemaker from the village, Jean-Claude Breliere. He ushered me inside to find a somewhat frantic Erell scrambling to unload and uncork armfuls of bottles onto her father's breakfast table.
Feeling guilty at inspiring such frenetic activity first thing in the morning, I pitched in to help opening the bottles, and learned what was in store for me. Instead of simply showing me her own wines, Erell had gone to great lengths to procure bottles from as many other winemakers in the village as possible. She and Breliere placed calls, sent e-mails, cajoled, and coerced, and managed to pull together a group of wines from the thirty or so winemakers who live in the village.
It was a remarkably generous act, and an indication of the quality of person Ninot revealed herself to be in the half day we spent together. It was also a wonderful opportunity for me to get a sense for the recent vintage in the vineyards of Rully, whose wines I have tasted only in a few isolated occasions in the past.
Rully, as a wine region, is named after the village. It was granted AOC status as a deisgnated appellation in 1939, and produces both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, though slightly less than twice the latter than the former. In total, the Rully AOC includes 880 acres across about 115 different named vineyards, of which nineteen are designated Premier Cru.
The appellation is also the unoffical center for the production of Burgundy's Cremant de Bourgogne sparkling wine. My tasting on Wednesday focused on still wines, and primarily the whites, with a few reds thrown in, including Domaine Ninot's two reds from neighboring Mercurey.
The wines of Rully are less structured and intense than their counterparts farther to the north in the Cote d'Or, but they are quite pleasing expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Producers in Rully tend to use little or no new oak, and for that matter, only a modicum of oak at all in most of their wines. This, combined with the expression of the place they come from make them mineral-driven and crisp in both red and white varieties, with nice expressions of fruit on top.
While Ninot almost assuredly wasn't thinking about her heritage when she generously offered to include her fellow producers in my morning tasting, such an act was altogether in keeping with her family's role in promoting the region. While her family has been growing winegrapes since the 14th Century, her paternal grandfather was a key advocate for the establishment of the Rully appellation and for greater recognition of the Cote Chalonnaise in general.
I'm happy to have gotten to experience a bit of the appellation, and know now with more certainty that it's a place I can turn to for both red and white Burgundy I will enjoy, and can afford. Most of these wines will clock in at the $25-$60 range.
Note that most of these wines, given that they are white 2009s and red 2008s are not quite yet on the American market. They will be soon. For those unfamiliar with the notation "1er" is short for "Premiere."
2008 Domaine Jean-Baptiste Ponsot Rully 1er Cru "Monpalais" Blanc, Burgundy
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells fantastically of bright lemon curd and wet stones. In the mouth the wine is powerfully bright and juicy, with fantastic acidity that powers delicious flavors of lemon curd, wet stones, and hints of white flowers that resonate through the finish. Very finely made. Score: between 9 and 9.5
2009 Michel Briday Rully "Clos de Remenot" Blanc, Burgundy
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of buttered popcorn and cold cream. In the mouth, bright lemon juice and lemon zest mixes with mineral and lightly nutty flavors. Very nice lemony finish. Score: around 9.
2009 Michel Briday Rully 1er Cru "Gresigny" Blanc, Burgundy
Light gold in color, this wine smells of wet chalkboard and a hint of salty sea air. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful salty savoriness, though without any buttery quality. Flavors of lemon juice and wet stones linger in a long finish. Nicely balanced. Score: around 9.
2009 Michel Briday Rully 1er Cru "La Pucelle" Blanc, Burgundy
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright lemon curd and wet stones. In the mouth, a bright stony minerality dominates, with hints oflemon and white flowers. Nicely balanced, great acidity, and long finish. Score: around 9.
2009 Domaine Breliers Rully 1er Cru "Les Margotés" Blanc, Burgundy
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of cold cream and wet slate. In the mouth it has a creamy aspect with a bright mineral quality and flavor that adds some lime zest on the finish but which remains a river of wet stone. Score: around 9.
2009 Domaine Ninot Rully "La Barre" Blanc, Burgundy
Palest gold in the glass, this wine has a very nice, almost austere mineral nose with faint hints of lemon and lime zest. In the mouth the austerity continues, as if liquid limestone was poured into your open mouth. Hints of lime zest linger in the finish with the alluring, lingering scent of kaffir lime. Score: around 9.
2009 Michel Briday Rully Blanc, Burgundy
Light gold in the glass, this wine has a nose of peach, apple and bright mineral aromas. In the mouth, the wine offers bright flavors of lemon zest, mineral and juicy grapefruit. Flavors of apple emerge on the finish. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Claudie Jobard Rully "Les Saint Jacques" Blanc, Burgundy
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of cold cream, mineral and lemon curd. In the mouth, bright wet slate, and hints of warm wheat mix with flavors of lemon and hints of tangerine. Tangerine dominates the finish. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Domaine de Villaine Rully "Les St. Jacques" Blanc, Burgundy
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones, white flowers, and lime. In the mouth the wine is quite mineral in nature, with lime and lemon flavors shot through with bright wet stone. Delicate and nicely balanced. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Domaine Brelier Rully "La Barre" Blanc, Burgundy
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of cold cream and lemon flowers, with a strong mineral quality. In the mouth, the wine is nicely textured and heavily mineral and well balanced with flavors of bright lime and wet stone that linger through the finish. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Claudie Jobard Rully 1er Cru Blanc, Burgundy
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and wet stones. It offers a creamy aspect in the mouth with flavors of pastry cream and lemon juice. Nicely balanced. Made of fruit purchased from a number of different Premier Cru vineyards, which is why it has no specific vineyard designation. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Domaine Ninot Rully 1er Cru "Gresigny" Blanc, Burgundy
Pale gold in the glass, this wine has a nose of mineral and faint lemon juice aromas. In the mouth the wine has a bright wet slate quality that is striking and remains the dominant feature of the wine even as hints of citrus zest and faint floral aromas swirl. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Domaine Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru "La Pucelle" Blanc, Burgundy
Palest gold in the glass, this wine has a nose of sweet oak and vanilla, with hints of lemon zest. In the mouth, the wine is crystalline bright with lemon and wet stone notes, but notes of sweet oak mix with the wine in ways that are less than well integrated. Moderate, oak influenced finish. Score: around 8.5.
2009 Claudie Jobard Rully "Montagne la Folie" Blanc, Burgundy
Pale gold in color, this wine has a very mineral, delicate nose of wet stone and hints of white flowers. In the mouth, somewhat auster notes of wet slate mix with rainwater and hints of lemon zest. Somewhat unbalanced towards the stony minerality that lingers in the finish, though a certainly compelling offering thereof. Score: around 8.5.
2008 Domaine Anne-Sophie Debavelaere Rully Blanc, Burgundy
Palest green-gold in the glass, to the point of being nearly colorless, this wine has a nose of green apple and mineral scents. In the mouth green apple dominates, with star fruit and lime zest mixed with mineral undertones that linger through the finish. Score: around 8.5.
2008 Domaine L'Ecette Rully "Les Gaudoirs" Blanc, Burgundy
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of buttered white toast and mineral notes. In the mouth, a piney savory quality suffuses lemon and wet stone flavors with a tasty aspect. Nicely balanced and smooth, though not quite fully realized. Score: around 8.5.
2007 Domaine L'Ecette Rully "La Gaudine" Blanc, Burgundy
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet felt and ripe apples. In the mouth it is smooth and creamy with acidity on the softer side, and flavors of apples and lime juice mixed with wet stones. Score: around 8.5.
2008 Domaine L'Ecette Rully "Mazières" Blanc, Burgundy
Light gold in color, this wine has a nose of marzipan and lemon juice. In the mouth lemon juice, hints of yeast, and warm wheat mix with a mineral undertone. Somewhat lacking in finesse. Moderate finish. Score: around 8.5.
2008 Domaine Jean-Baptiste Ponsot Rully 1er Cru "Molesme" Rouge, Burgundy
Light garnet in color, this wine has a fantastic nose of explosively juicy raspberries and othe somewhat indescribable red fruit. In the mouth, the wine has an equally compelling character, with fantastically juicy raspberry and cherry flavors mixed with mulberry and exotic fresh herbs. Fantastic balance and an incredible finish tinged with orange oil. Score: around 9.5.
2007 Domaine La Folie Rully "Clos Bellecroix - Cuvee Marey" Rouge, Burgundy
Very pale garnet in the glass, this wine smells of orange peel and burnt sugar. In the mouth the wine is incredibly polished with lightly grippy tannins and a wonderful melange of orange oil, mulling spices, cedar and raspberry fruit. A special small lot of wine made with the submerged-cap fermentation method. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5.
2009 Domaine Breliere Rully 1er Cru "Les Preaux" Rouge, Burgundy
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet dirt and saddle leather plus some exotic mulberry-like aromas. In the mouth it is quite smooth and sexy, with mulberry and cherry flavors that meld quite seamlessly with earthier flavors into a very nice harmonic whole. Balanced, delicious, and with velvety tannins that will continue to soften over time. Score: between 9 and 9.5
2009 Domaine Ninot Rully "Chaponniere" Rouge, Burgundy
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried cherries and wet wood. In the mouth the wine is plummy with dried cherries and a very stony, wet chalkboard core. The wine finishes with stony wet silence that lasts for a long time. Nicely balanced, elegant, but needs time. Score: around 9.
2009 Michel Briday Rully 1er Cru "Champs Cloux" Rouge, Burgundy
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of bright raspberry and cherry notes with floral aromas. In the mouth bright flavors of raspberry and cherry and plum meld with a dark earthiness and wet stone quality Faint tannins. Very nicely balanced. Score: around 9.
2009 Claudie Jobard Rully "La Chaume" Rouge, Burgundy
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet earth and bright mulberry aromas. In the mouth cherry and raspberry flavors mix with wet dirt and linger in an earthy finish. Faint leathery tannins clasp the edges of the mouth. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Domaine Breliere Rully 1er Cru "Les Champs-Cloux" Rouge, Burgundy
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black raspberries and wet wood. In the mouth tart sour cherry and raspberry flavors mix with lightly tacky tannins with an anise flavor that lingers in the finish. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Domaine Ninot Mercurey "Vielles Vignes," Burgundy
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry briar and wet stones. In the mouth the wine has plummy raspberry flavors with a deep stony minerality. Somewhat austere in its youth, this wine will likely blossom. Score: between 8.5 and 9
2009 Domaine Ninot Mercury 1er Cru "Les Crets," Burgundy
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet stone that has been kissed with red berry fruit. In the mouth grippy tannins surround flavors of sour cherry and raspberry with a deep, wet stone minerality that lingers through a long finish along with the fine textured tannins. Score: between 8.5 and 9
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