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Jaeger Defaix

Happy Days: Fine-Value Burgundy from an Outstanding Vintage
Jaeger Defaix
How nice it was to see the smiles return to the faces of Didier and Hélène Defaix. And what charming smiles they are! If Burgundy’s growers were praying for an antidote to the previous year’s taxing season and apocalyptically low yields, someone or something must have been listening. Tasting with Hélène Defaix this week, we were reminded just how well the ’22s have turned out—outstanding in both colours—and how bright and racy the wines are, especially considering the vintage could be generally summarised as warm and dry.

When we visited Burgundy last year, grower after grower expressed their delight with their ’22s. Didier Defaix’s contribution to the conversation: “It’s a strong vintage,” he says as we taste a set of wines that tell the same story. “It didn’t go through good or not-so-good phases—it was always showing well. Probably one of the top three vintages in the last 10!” Although we have our own ideas, we didn’t press Didier on the other two. Why not ask Hélène if you see her this week?

The Defaix’s organically managed Rully domaine is now 6.5 hectares, a fraction of the size of the Chablis estate for which the family is better known. Heck, the family farms more land in the Chablis 1er Côte de Léchet than they do spread across six vineyards in the south of Burgundy. But in this case, small is beautiful. Not only have Didier and his brother Sylvain Defaix turned out a wonderfully finessed and finely sculpted set of Burgundies form this year, but the fact that Rully still flies under the radar means that the pricing remains more than reasonable. If you thought you needed a DeLorean to find top-notch, decent-value GROWER Burgundy these days, the answer is… not quite yet.

The Wines

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Les Cloux 2022

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Les Cloux 2022

Diam. Rully’s Les Cloux vineyard is located just south of the village, with south-easterly exposure on the sirloin cut of Rully 1er Cru overlooking the plain of Saône. Les Cloux is home to Defaix’s oldest vines, planted in 1944 on the classic clay/limestone mix found across the best sites in Burgundy. Since 2009, these old vines have been managed organically. Within Rully, Les Cloux is known for its ability to balance elegant and mouthwatering flesh with tangy grip and fine length, and 2022 delivers in spades. This 100% Chardonnay fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in older barrels (up to seven years old) for 12 months before settling in stainless steel. It’s a silky, textural wine, long and focused with a delicious salty-savoury close. Simply, a delicious and fine-value white Burg.

“Fresh mid lemon. A more discreet nose than Montpalais, but clearly with intensity behind. Crisp white fruit, excellent poise, a touch of liquorice too, plenty of flesh but just really well made, with decent length.”
89-90 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“A broader aromatic, more obviously packaged with some oak. Mouth-filling, silky, generous wine but here is still a line of intensity and attractiveness – delicious, comforting wine!”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Les Cloux 2022
Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Les Cloux 2022 (1500ml)

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Les Cloux 2022 (1500ml)

Diam. Rully’s Les Cloux vineyard is located just south of the village, with south-easterly exposure on the sirloin cut of Rully 1er Cru overlooking the plain of Saône. Les Cloux is home to Defaix’s oldest vines, planted in 1944 on the classic clay/limestone mix found across the best sites in Burgundy. Since 2009, these old vines have been managed organically. Within Rully, Les Cloux is known for its ability to balance elegant and mouthwatering flesh with tangy grip and fine length, and 2022 delivers in spades. This 100% Chardonnay fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in older barrels (up to seven years old) for 12 months before settling in stainless steel. It’s a silky, textural wine, long and focused with a delicious salty-savoury close. Simply, a delicious and fine-value white Burg. 

“Fresh mid lemon. A more discreet nose than Montpalais, but clearly with intensity behind. Crisp white fruit, excellent poise, a touch of liquorice too, plenty of flesh but just really well made, with decent length.”
89-90 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
“A broader aromatic, more obviously packaged with some oak. Mouth-filling, silky, generous wine but here is still a line of intensity and attractiveness – delicious, comforting wine!”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Les Cloux 2022 (1500ml)
Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Rabourcé 2022

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Rabourcé 2022

Diam. Rabourcé has traditionally been nicknamed ‘the Montrachet of Rully’ for the richness and power it delivers. It is a very steep site west of the village, above the highly regarded Cloux vineyard and just below the woods. The soils are mainly composed of white, limestone-rich clay. The Defaix vines are now between 40 and 45 years old. Rabourcé is always one of Rully’s first vineyards to ripen, and Defaix’s 2022 is a superb example—a wine of impressive depth and power. It fermented with indigenous yeasts and was raised in used oak barrels. Expect waves of fleshy, mouthcoating stone fruit and kernel notes with excellent intensity, culminating in a long, balanced, refreshing close.

“Slightly the highest alcohol but still no more than 13.3%. Pretty lemon and lime colour. The fruit has a tiny bit more ripeness than Cloux, less exotic than Montpalais. Again the balance is excellent with a really pleasing sensuality to it. On the softer side rather than mineral, but appetising nonetheless. Light youthful bitters at the very back, a complex Rully with some ageing potential.”
89-91 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Blanc Rabourcé 2022
Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully Rouge 2022

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully Rouge 2022

Diam. Jaeger-Defaix’s newest red cuvée (100% Pinot Noir) comes from a small parcel of Rully village vines purchased in 2011. Sited in the Vorot lieu-dit, the 30-year-old vines have been farmed organically for decades. This well-sited parcel yields small bunches of grapes with thick skins and powerful juice. The fruit this year was entirely destemmed, and the wine was aged in seasoned oak barrels (from one to three years old) for 12 months. This is a juicy, highly enjoyable, elegant and rewarding Burgundy with cherry and violet-scented flesh and the suave, powdery mouthfeel of top-notch Pinot Noir. Great value!

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully Rouge 2022
Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Rouge Clos du Chapître 2022

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Rouge Clos du Chapître 2022

Diam. The Clos du Chapître is a monopole for this producer. The one-hectare plot is located behind the family house and cellars within the Rully 1er Cru Chapître, enclosed by a two-metre-high stone wall. The Pinot yields here are controlled by severe pruning, de-budding and green harvesting. There is also manual sorting of bunches to keep only the most beautiful clusters of fruit. This year, the wine was aged in oak barrels (10% new) for 12 months before settling in tank before bottling.

Jancis Robinson MW has written that the wines from this site “offer proof that the Côte Chalonnaise can now field wines of serious interest to those raised on Côte d’Or wines.” As always, the Clos du Chapître delivers the expected step up from the village Rully in depth, structure and complexity, yet there’s no lack of juicy brightness courtesy of this utterly charming vintage. Complete, tense and mineral with a crushed velvet mouthfeel, this is looking great.

“A very cherry nose very nice – and that’s before the lovely floral perfume rises form the glass. Freshness but here is density of flavour too – a little caramel in the finishing flavour – but then fading to finish more focused on the fruit again. That’s a very delicious wine – I’d wait 2-3 years for things to open out and the oaky caramel to fade – a similar patience as for the oak on the white – but these are both lovely!”
Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Rouge Clos du Chapître 2022

“A delicious range of wines from Didier in 2022 – and some of the entry wines are completely delicious!” Bill Nanson, The Burgundy Report

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