#3 Interview with Félix Debavelaere

Félix is a young vigneron with a lot of talent. He has taken over the estate, Domaine Rois Mages in Rully (Burgundy) created by his parents in 2014. With his mother, they are doing a solid, discrete and promising team.

Félix is not only a great winemaker, he loves organizing events with the friends from Burgundy and beyond such as “La Paulée des copains” where everybody from the wine industry can join with his best bottles, tradition has to be respected!

I am very proud to shine the light on his talented, generous and reliable side.

Could you please introduce yourself and explain your career?

I have finished a notional oenology degree (DNO) in 2009 and I took over the family estate in 2014.

When have you decided to join the estate?

I have started thinking about it when I was 16. I went to the viticulture highschool in Beaune and it was an easy decision, at 22, to join the estate when I finished my diploma of viticulture and oenology. I joined the winery for the 2009 harvest and it was obvious that my mum needed some help. It was perfect timing ! At the beginning, I was just working as an employee in order to understand different kinds of work at the domaine.
I have been a partner of the estate since 2014 and I split the activities with my mother. I am in charge of all the winemaking, cellar and vineyard work. My mother deals with the administrative part and sales. Before I joined the estate, my mother was doing everything and my father was helping her for the winemaking period.

What have you modified?

I have changed many things but everything has been done step by step. In the vineyards, we plow the soils and bought new tractors. In the cellar, we have added more new barrels though we don’t exceed 15% new oak, we have new tanks with temperature control… I have brought new ideas which I hope, will improve the quality of our wines.

What is the history of the Domaine?

My parents come from Northern France but they had a family house in Fargesles-Chalon. When they got married, they decided to honeymoon in the French Riviera and to make a stop a the house. They feel in love with Burgundy and finally spent only one week in the south. Back home, they decided to move to Burgundy. My father worked at the clinic in Dracy-le-Fort as doctor and one day, a patient offered to my father a 1 ha plot of unplanted land in the Rully appellation. They bought it, planted it with Chardonnay, and that is how the estate started ! Now, we have 11ha. My parents decided not to use the family name because it was too complicated to remember and pronounce. My mother maiden name is Melchior which is where the name of the Three Kings (Les Rois Mages) comes from.

What are your next challenges?

The short-term objective is to stop using herbicides and on a longer term, convert the domaine to biodynamic viticulture.

What is the best compliment you like to hear about your wines?

Purity and elegance. Even if it is somehow “cliché”, these are two important adjectives for me. In Rully, we have the chance to have a great minerality in our terroirs (Les Cailloux or “the stones”, for instance). We always harvest first in the Rully appellation to preserve this freshness and acidity. After in the cellar, we try to don’t add any external element in order to respect the grapes. In terms of ageing, we use also very few new oak barrels.

What are you the most proud of?

I am very proud to run a domaine that started from scratch 30 years ago and today has 11 hectares, a team, and a word to say within the appellation.

If you want to read the full version of the interview, please send me an email to marie@cepagescommunication.com

Stream of consciousness

  • Music : I am very old fashioned!!! 80’s
  • Book : I am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes
  • Meal : I love cooking. My last recipe was a beef bourguignon made with boar
  • Mornings : A good coffee and a croissant when I have time
  • Vintage : 2014, I think it is the best vintage so far at our winery
  • Bottle : Chardonnay Sierra Leone from Domaine Peyres Rose 2005 (Languedoc)
  • Destination : Papoua New Guinea, I went there in 2010 and it was truly and adventure
  • Smell : Spices like curry
  • Perfect sunday : Sleep in, a brunch or a barbecue with friends, some good bottles of wine, a swim in a lake and a couple rounds of Molkki.

Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (Editor and photographer)

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