Moulin-à-Vent, an ambitious Beaujolais cru

Jamie Goode tastes the 2019 releases from members of the Cap Moulin-à-Vent organization

Cap Moulin-à-Vent is the sort of organization that many regions could do with. It brings together 13 domains from the appellation, gathered around ‘human and environmental values, and collective ambitions,’ says the organization. Chief among these is to create great wines. There are 69 different terroirs (‘lieux dits’) in the appellation, which spans 630 hectares (1550 acres). I had the chance to work my way through a set of wines that represented all 13 producers, with one wine each. Here are my verdicts.

Domaine Richard Rottiers Moulin-à-Vent 2019 Beaujolais
14% alcohol. Organic, vines 40-80 years old, semi-carbonic maceration (12 days) with whole bunch, then ageing half in concrete and half in small oak. Fresh, brooding black cherry notes on the nose with a hint of spice and iodine. The palate has a lovely supple feel to it with elegance but also some autumnal depth and ripeness, showing black fruits, dried herbs, a touch of pepper and a bit of crunchy tannin. This is really lovely, and has massive drinkability and elegance, but also some structure. 92/100

Franck Bessone Domaine du Granit Tradition Moulin-à-Vent 2019 Beaujolais
13.5% alcohol. This is mainly from a sort of pink granite called Ghorre. 50 year old vines, vinified in concrete tank for 20 days after a cold soak, wild ferment, 15% whole bunch. It’s then aged for 16 months in a mix of barrel, concrete tank and stainless steel. Aromatic sweet plummy nose with some ripe cherry and spice notes. The palate is sleek, ripe and pure, with rounded cherry and strawberry fruit with a touch of plum and damson. There’s a lovely sweetness to the fruit, with a silky texture and some breadth. Finishes with a spicy flourish and a touch of pepper: very stylish and expressive with lovely personality. 93/100

Albert Bichot Domaine de Rochgrès Moulin-à-Vent 2019 Beaujolais
14% alcohol. Vines between 25 and 35 years old, vinified 50% whole cluster with punching of the cap, Burgundy style. Then aged half in oak (20% new) and 50% in stainless steel. Sweet black cherry nose with some fine spicy hints and a touch of tar and coffee. Very polished. The palate is supple and carries sweet fruit allied to a touch of spicy oak, adding some savoury interest, and a bit of structure. This is a modern, ageworthy interpretation of Moulin-à-Vent that should age really nicely. 92/100

Domaine Paul Janin & Fils Moulin-à-Vent Héritage 2019 Beaujolais
14% alcohol. Eric Janin is the owner/winemaker here, and farms organically (in conversion). Low yields from centenarian vines. Semi carbonic maceration in concrete tanks with 50% whole bunch, then ageing 16 months in stainless steel. Brooding black fruits with some spiciness and fine green herbal hints on the nose. The palate is bright and expressive with some depth and a bit of grainy structure under the sleek black cherry and blackberry fruit. Quite brooding and intense with freshness, balance and ageability. It’s a little understated, but there’s substance and depth here. 92/100

Château des Gimarets Céleste Moulin-à-Vent 2019 Beaujolais
11% alcohol. This is from the lieu dit Les Gimarets, with 54 year old vines, farmed biodynamically. It’s destemmed then fermented in stainless steel tanks. No added sulfites. Quite grandly packaged with a wax seal. This is by far the lowest alcohol of all the wines here, and this is a bright, slightly clipped tart cherry and raspberry fruit wine with some good acidity, quite firm structure and a savoury, peppery, slightly earthy savouriness. There’s a touch of rose petal and iodine, with a cranberry edge. It’s very juicy and savoury, and in terms of flavour, it’s quite an outlier, finishing firm and dry. 90/100

Domaine du Moulin d’Éole Moulin-à-Vent Les Thorins 2019 Beaujolais
13% alcohol. From the Les Thorins lieu dit, 45 year old vines. Whole cluster ferment, semi carbonic. Spends 11 months in concrete tanks. This is deeply coloured, with a fine spicy texture under the sleek black cherry fruit. There’s a resonance to this wine which has a lovely silkiness as well as the spicy structure. Has freshness, a touch of liqourice and a real finesse. It’s not a shouty, obvious wine, but it’s a really good one. 92/100

Thibault Liger-Belair Moulin-à-Vent Les Vielles Vignes 2019 Beaujolais
13.5% alcohol. Vines between 65 and 105 years old. 40% whole cluster in open fermenters, cap not immersed. Then it spends 15 months in barrels. This is dense and focused with firm structure under the sweet black cherry and plum fruit. There’s a strong savoury edge here, with some input from wood. It’s a backward wine, still youthful and tight, with firm tannins – a reflection, I suspect, of the more Burgundian winemaking approach here. I’ve tried these wines with age, and they are not the same in style as those made in a more Beaujolais winemaking way, but they age really well. 92/100

Château Bonnet Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes 2019 Beaujolais
60 year old vines. Vinified in concrete with 30% whole cluster and punch downs. Two years’ maturation in concrete tanks. Sweetly fragrant with black cherries, blackberries and some fine spiciness. The palate is fleshy with sweet black fruits and some cherry. Fine and elegant with some tannic structure though. Lovely weight to this. 92/100

Famille Lardet Maison Le Nid Moulin-à-Vent La Rochelle 2019 Beaujolais
14% alcohol. This is from 75 year old vines from the La Rochelle lieux dit, and it is vinified by the Beaujolaise method in concrete, with 40% whole bunch and semi-carbonic maceration. Warm, ripe and sweet with plum and cherry fruit on the nose. Warm aromatics: sweet and heady. The palate is richly textured with bold, sweet black cherry fruit. Nice volume here with fine structure. Fresh and direct with lovely finesse: this has depth and complexity. 94/100

Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent 2019 Beaujolais
14% alcohol. This comes from eight different lieux dits in the appellation, and is fermented with 10% whole cluster in a mix of concrete and stainless steel, then matured for 10 months in one-third concrete and two-thirds barrels. There’s a touch of coffee and cedar on the nose with black cherry. The palate is supple with nice sweet cherry and plum fruit. Very expressive with easy fruit, and notes of spice and black cherry, and more hints of coffee. 91/100

Domaine Merlin Moulin-à-Vent La Rochelle 2019 Beaujolais
A single-vineyard wine from La Rochelle lieu dit. 75 yer old vines, 100% whole bunch, semi-carbonic maceration, then 12 months in barrel and 6 months in stainless steel. Ripe sweet dark fruits on the nose: black cherries predominate. Grainy tannins sit under the sweet black fruits. It’s supple and quite fine with a slight saltiness under the cherry fruit. Very expressive. 93/100

Louis Boillot Moulin-à-Vent Les Brusselions 2019 Beaujolais
13% alcohol. 75 year old vines, made in the ‘Burgundy method’, destemmed with maceration for 20 days in stainless steel. Matured for 18 months in 500 litre barrels. Supple, fine and fresh with a slight green hint to the elegant red cherry and strawberry fruit. There’s a stony, savoury edge to the midweight fruit, and this has a juicy sour cherry finish. It’s not an impact wine, but it shows good balance and focus. 91/100

Château du Moulin-à-Vent Les Vérillats 2019 Beaujolais
13% alcohol. From 65 year old vines, 30% whole cluster with a cold pre-ferment maceration, and then ageing in barrels for 12 months followed by 6 months in stainless steel. Fresh, supple and aromatic with lovely red cherry fruit supported by a fine spiciness. Good structure, but it doesn’t take away from the elegance, with potential for development. Has some stoniness, as well as raspberry and red cherry fruit. Real finesse here with potential for development. But always elegant. 94/100

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