Although I lived in Burgundy for just over a year, I somehow managed to never make it to Beaujolais. If I believed in regrets, this might be one of mine. However, now I have an excuse to return to this renowned French wine region. As if I needed one. Nonetheless, Beaujolais is a fantastic wine region boasting accessible and often easy drinking red wines made from Gamay. I drank quite a few bottles while in France and those from Moulin-à-Vent stood above the rest.
The region has never been my go-to, but I find myself thoroughly enjoying most Beaujolais I’ve tried over the years. They frequently go down a little too easily with their fruit forward flavors and jovial nature. Many bottles of Beaujolais are straightforward and uncomplicated, which isn’t a bad thing. We need wines like this in our lives for laidback get togethers and to pair with just about anything we’re craving. Yet throughout my year in Burgundy, I fell in love with a few of the Beaujolais crus. In particularly, wines from Moulin-à-Vent.
The Beaujolais Crus
There are ten cru vineyards in Beaujolais. Basically, this means there are ten villages within Beaujolais entitled to their own appellations. Otherwise, wines made here are labeled as Beaujolais or Beaujolais Villages. The latter of which encompasses 39 communes. These wines are typically a blend of grapes from multiple villages.
The ten Beaujolais crus are:
- St. Amour
- Côte de Brouilly
From these ten, the following four villages account for the largest production: Brouilly, Morgon, Fleurie, and Moulin-à-Vent. Brouilly and Morgon are generally more delicate, lighter bodied wines with floral notes. Thinking back to my first trip to French wine country, my friend and I purchased a bottle of Brouilly from Les Halles in Avignon to savor near the river with our market haul of olives and cheese. Little did I know at the time that Brouilly was a Beaujolais cru. This was prior to starting my wine education journey. We grabbed it because it was less than ten euros, but the wine was incredible. Bursting with floral aromas of roses and violets, the fresh, juicy flavors of red fruits were the perfect complement to salty, briny olives. That bottle will always stand out in my mind and the memory to go with it.
Anyways, Moulin-à-Vent has become my new favorite Beaujolais cru over the past two years. Every bottle I’ve tasted from this village has great concentration with a silky-smooth palate and well-integrated alcohol, acidity, and flavors.
Moulin-à-Vent is one of the Beaujolais crus which yields more concentrated, structured wines. These bottles of Beaujolais actually have aging potential. The name of the cru come from an ancient windmill planted on a hill in the village of Romanèche-Thorins. This village and Chénas make up the Moulin-à-Vent appellation, which covers 640 hectares in Beaujolais. Soils here are mainly granite with limestone, sandstone, and marl.
Notably, these granite soils are where gamay grapes thrive best. Granite has low nutrient levels, thus limiting the yields of Gamay vines resulting in more concentrated fruit. Vines in Beaujolais are head trained, also known as gobelet. This means the spurs are pruned around the head of the vine. Then, the shoots of the vine grow to resemble a bush rather than being trained up on wires. However, some producers are now training their vines to allow for mechanization.
In Moulin-à-Vent, there are around 300 winegrowers. Known as “The Lord of Beaujolais,” this cru produces wines with a more noble bouquet. Initially with a deep ruby or garnet color, Moulin-à-Vent delivers blackcurrant, rose, licorice, and ripe red fruit aromas with a denser, structured palate. While these wines may undergo carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration, as is common practice in Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent may also receive some oak aging or spend time in large oak vats. However, the wines rarely display new oak aromas or flavors.
Château du Moulin-à-Vent
My latest love story with Moulin-à-Vent began thanks to Château du Moulin-à-Vent. As their 2021 vintage report arrived in my inbox, I became increasingly curious to taste their wines. I shared my love for Moulin-à-Vent and their team generously sent me the 2019 vintage. Needless to say, I was impressed.
Château du Moulin-à-Vent has been producing wines in north Beaujolais since 1732. With such a well-established history in the region, they lay claim to some of the finest parcels in Moulin-à-Vent. Their old Gamay vines grow in 23 different terroirs as recognized by the Château, lending themselves to brilliant expressions of the variety. Father-son duo Jeans-Jacques and Édouard Parinet purchased Châtea du Moulin-à-Vent in 2009. Joined by Brice Laffond in 2013, the three men have committed to wholly sustainable viticulture with full conversion to Organic Agriculture by the end of 2022.
Learn more about the families who have cared for the prestigious estate over the past three centuries here.
The Wine: Château du Moulin-à-Vent, “Couvent des Thorins” Moulin-à-Vent AOC 2019
A blend from different Moulin-à-Vent terroirs, this wine is one of two cuvées as interpreted by Brice and Éduoard. Couvent des Thorins is known for its freshness, fruitiness, and accessibility. A brilliant ruby red color in the glass, cinnamon, Kirsch, raspberry, red cherry, warm spice, and subtle green earth aromas envelop the senses. The wine delivers medium body, zippy acidity, and a mouthcoating finish with flavors of cherry and cinnamon bark. A lively Moulin-à-Vent with more concentration on the palate than the average Beaujolais.
Read the Château du Moulin-à-Vent 2019 vintage report here.
Pair this red wine with Greek takeout, mushroom pizza, stuffed peppers with sausage and herbs, soy/sesame/miso glazed salmon, or an avocado BLT with barbecue chips.