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January 23, 2023

Burgundy portrait: Domaine de la Folie

By Jon Wyand

Jon Wyand photographs Baptiste and Clémence Dubrulle of Domaine de la Folie in the Côte Chalonnaise.

Leaving Chagny on the main route to Rully, Mercurey, and the other well-known appellations of the Côte Chalonnaise to the south, you may miss the turning on the right for Bouzeron and Domaine de la Folie. 

By some quirk of geography, the domaine is closer to Bouzeron than to Rully, the appellation for the vineyards around the house. It sits quite isolated on a hill overlooking the Saône

With temperatures that had everyone remembering 2003, and with a plentiful crop to get in, Baptiste Dubrulle did not quite recover from a torn hamstring in time to be on the frontline. But with its view toward Chalon-sur-Saône and the foothills of the alps beyond the Saône’s plain, the orchard in front of the house—full of the tents and clothes lines of the pickers—was a happy place. 

Winemakers are usually reluctant to pronounce on a vintage too early, either in words or by facial expression. But it is very difficult to miss the vibe of a bunch of warm, happy pickers enjoying the lack of mud and employer’s stress. There is almost an air of intoxication, of joy and relief, everywhere.

The limping Baptiste, with Indie the longhaired German shepherd dog keeping pace behind him, was still restlessly mobile with frustrated energy. Baptiste and his wife Clémence had taken over the running of the estate from her parents in 2010, and I remember on my first visit seeing but three barrels of red in the cellar—a very sad and chastening sight, following a horrendous hailstorm earlier in the year. Unlike a lot of Burgundian estates, their vineyards were mostly in one area, not spread through several appellations.

The indomitable Domaine de la Folie

But Domaine de la Folie is undeniably indomitable, and young blood has won through with a lot of support from neighbors. Baptiste will testify that the winemakers’ societies for mutual aid, usually dedicated to St Vincent, are about much more than banners and having a good time. They gave him support after his injury, which helped them realize a share of 2018’s bounty, and their cellar is a much happier and more crowded place. 

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Clémence herself, however, is a strong presence and fully involved in her family’s estate. When I arrived after the end of picking, they were both busy checking densities, temperatures, and pumping over—hardly the best time to ask two tired and juice-spattered winemakers to give themselves up to the camera. But both are great realists and happy to bear witness to their labors—a team with equal and complementary commitment to the estate.

The family house might be mistaken for a château on its hill, but this is not a family playing at being vignerons. They are not only hands-on but sleeves rolled up, come what may. 

Baptiste and Clémence Dubrulle of Domaine de la Folie
Photography by Jon Wyand.

This article was first published in December 2020, in Issue 70 of The World of Fine Wine.

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