ver the last five decades Rully on the Côte Chalonnaise has grown considerably. Hit badly by the phylloxera and two world wars the village has recovered and is now primarily known for its whites.
– When my father arrived in Rully in 1963 there were 70 hectares of vines. Now we have more than 300 hectares, says Stéphane Briday at Domaine Michel Briday.
In the Briday cellars focus is on Rully and Bouzeron, with a bit of Mercurey thrown in. 60 per cent of the production is white. The rest is red. In total Domaine Michel Briday covers 16 hectares.
Out of the ten wines produced at the domaine eight are from Rully, five whites and three reds.
– In a white Rully you have the freshness, the minerality and the acidity, says Stéphane Briday. That is the true character of Rully. Here on the Côte Chalonnaise you have Montagny, which is much more mineral. A bit like the Chablis of the Côte Chalonnaise. Rully is more like the Côte d’Or wines. We have the roundness, but with the minerality. More like a Puligny-Montrachet than a Meursault.
The basic white Rully at Domaine Michel Briday comes from four different parcels around the village. All is made in tank. Stéphane Briday has tried to use some oak, but he does not feel it added anything to the wine. It only increased the price.
– Two parcels are located in the northern part of Rully, in Chaponnière and Les Saint-Jacques, explains Stéphane Briday. The soil is light and produces a wine with peach aromas. The other two parcels – La Bergerie and La Crée – are in the middle of the appellation. In La Bergerie you have deep clay soil, producing fat and powerful wines. Also, La Bergerie produces grapefruit aromas, if kept cooler during vinification, which is very unusual for a chardonnay. You are more likely to find it in a sauvignon. But you always get these aromas, more or less, depending on the vintage. La Crée is stonier, so you have more minerality here. I vinify the white Rully as three cuvées – the first two parcels go into the same cuvée – and the summer after the harvest I blend the three.
There are three white Rully premier crus at Domaine Michel Briday – Les Cloux, La Pucelle and Grésigny. You will find all of them west or southwest of the village.
– I use barrels for all of them, says Stéphane Briday. But for Les Cloux and La Pucelle I use no new oak. I don’t like the oaky aromas. Lately I have been buying barrels that hold 300 or 400 litres (standard size in Burgundy is 228 litres), so even if they are new you don’t get a wine that’s too oaky. With those sizes there is less wood contact and you keep the minerality and the freshness in the wine.
Les Cloux is the one closest to the village. It is at the bottom of the slope, producing a slightly fatter wine. La Pucelle is steeper, on lighter clay with some stones. As a wine it requires a bit more time than Les Cloux to come around.
– The soil in Grésigny is much more stony. It is not very deep. You hit the rock almost immediately. I use some new oak for this wine. It can take up to 20 per cent, not more. The toasting of the barrels for this is usually used for red wines. It is a long toasting. Grésigny is a very sharp, tight wine. So it needs something that brings some mellowness, some ”sweetness”, to the wine. That is what this particular toasting does.
There is one monopole at Domaine Michel Briday - the Rully, Clos de Remenot. Despite being village appellation this is a wine Stéphane Briday prefers to serve after the premier crus at tastings. The vines – just over half a hectare – are squeezed in between two premier crus – La Fosse and Rabourcé.
– The fact that it is just village appellation is probably because something was missed during classification, says Stéphane Briday. The vineyard is facing south and it is very steep. I use 400 litre barrels for this one, with 20 per cent new oak. Compared with the Grésigny this is richer. It is a much more ”sunny” wine, but it is not heavy because there is the acidity to balance it.
This part of the Rully vignoble, around Rabourcé, is shaped like an amphitheatre. As a result temperatures are generally higher here and among people working in these vineyards the place is referred to as The Oven.
Immediately to the northwest of Rully is Bouzeron, the only village appellation for the aligoté grape. Stéphane Briday makes a Bouzeron he has named after his daughter – Cuvée Axelle. It is a blend of two parcels – Les Corcelles and Boyottes.
– I personally don’t like the aligoté grape, he says. I don’t find it interesting. It can be green, not very flavoured. We had some aligoté at the domaine, but we always sold it off in bulk. But I really love the Bouzeron. Because it has more fat. It has an interesting flavour. It is different from the basic aligoté.
– In 2004 I managed to buy my first parcel in Bouzeron. But I was not very happy with it. They were very old vines, some of them probably about 100 years old, but they produced something very fat. It was too much. Two years later I found another parcel, one that comes from Domaine de Villaine, where the vines are 30 years old. When you blend the two you get a much better balance.
The four red wines – three Rully and on Mercurey – at Domaine Michel Briday account for 40 per cent of the production. In a similar manner to the white village Rully the red one is also a blend of three cuvées. The base is the old vines – 50 years and older – from Les Gueunes and La Bergerie. Depending on the vintage different amounts from Les Cailloux and Bas de Chênes are added.
– I make two red Rully premier crus, Champs Cloux and Les Pierres, says Stéphane Briday. There are four different owners in Champs Cloux. The three biggest only produce red there.
– Les Pierres is probably the smallest premier cru in Rully. I have 0.18 hectare. Anne-Sophie Debavelaere (of Domaine Rois Mages) makes both red and white. So there are two owners and three wines for this premier cru.
© 2013 Ola Bergman