Moulin-à-Vent is the most famous wine growing region of Beaujolais. Last month we traveled to Beaujolais to participate in a tasting of the current releases, including wines made from specific geographic areas called climats in addition to Moulin-à-Vent blends. These climat-specific wines are the focus of this review article. Earlier vintages of many of these wines were also covered in our Report #58 Beaujolais in Transition.
Moulin-à-Vent is the largest (717 ha) of the Grand Crus, and it’s home to the iconic 15th century windmill built to grind grain that overlooks Romanèche-Thorin. It’s also home to the Gamay Noir grape, an offspring of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. No place else in the world grows this grape so successfully, and 90 percent of global plantings are in Beaujolais.
While Beaujolais is famous for semi-carbonic maceration, most of the wines reviewed here are made using more traditional Burgundian winemaking methods, resulting in what the French call vins de garde—wines that are made to age.
Moulin-à-Vent has 15 climats, including some located near the famous windmill. While they vary in terms of altitude and topography, the most important difference is soil. The manganese-rich soils of Moulin-à-Vent are varied with a crumbly pink granite called grès on the hills and heavier clay on the plains. Producers generally prefer the grapes grown on the thin soils of the hillsides where the vigorous nature of the grape is tamed. Some of the best known climats are Champ de Cour, La Rochelle, Le Carquelin, Le Clos, Les Thorins, Les Vérillats, and Rochegrès. A map showing the location of the climats and the composition of their soils is given at the end of this article.
The wines reviewed below come from the 2014 and 2015 vintages. The 2014 vintage is widely regarded as normal, resulting in wines of excellent typicity that are mostly ready to drink early on. The hot, dry 2015 vintage, on the other hand, was outstanding with many vintners claiming it’s the best since 1947. Many of the 2015s are recently bottled and should be given some additional cellar time. All of the wines reviewed here are bottled, but not all have been released.
Tasting Notes and Reviews
Cave du Château de Chénas 2015 Exception Moulin-à-Vent 90 From the Les Perelles climat, this is serious and flavorful wine, showing a vibrant, expressive nose of fragrant red fruit accented by a touch of wet earth. It shows good weight on a generous palate of dark cherry, boysenberry and herbal spice with firm, round tannins that need a bit of time to resolve.
Chateau de Bellevue 2015 La Roche Moulin-à-Vent 92 This wine, sourced from the La Roche climat, expresses the richness of the vintage. The full-scented nose reveals dark red fruit with a hint of licorice. The smooth, almost opulent palate shows seamless integration of wood and fruit. The tannins are firm, and while the wine could benefit from some age, it’s pleasant drinking now. US Importer: EDV Wines
Chateau de la Terriere 2015 Climat Le Moulin Moulin-à-Vent 92 Sourced from the Le Moulin climat, this mouth-filling wine is deeply flavored and wonderfully balanced. It shows spicy dark berries and plum and hints of honeyed oak and lingers forever on the finish. An outstanding 2015 vintage Beaujolais.
Chateau des Jacques 2014 Clos du Grand Carquelin Moulin-à-Vent ($43) 93 Generous and above all else pure in character, this is a wine of lively aromas and authoritative flavors with a silky core of pomegranate, dark cherry and hints of underbrush and spice. Super-long, juicy finish that continues the sense of purity and intensity. Chateau des Jacques 2014 La Roche Moulin-à-Vent ($43) 92 The thin, infertile soils of La Roche produce low yields but incredible, fresh red fruit. The 2014 bottling reflects its terroir with spicy, fresh red fruit and minerals permeating a classy and seductive wine. It’s 100 percent barrel aged, but the tannins are ultra fine. Finishes with a lingering sweetness of red cherry and berry fruit. Chateau des Jacques 2014 Rochegres Moulin-à-Vent ($43) 91 The high altitudes of Rochegres combined with soils derived from quartz-inflected, pink granite produce a wine that needs more time than most to come into perfect balance. But the potential is obvious in the 2014 vintage with its silky texture, clear acidity, and fabulous, dark fruited flavors. US Importer: Kobrand
Chateau du Moulin a Vent 2014 Champ de Cour Moulin-à-Vent 92 The bouquet of the Champ de Cour is especially marked by floral notes of violets and roses complemented by red and black berries with an earthy note. Soft and feminine in character with a delicate texture and elegant focus. A little more lush in 2014 than is the norm for this vineyard. The fruit is all destemmed and the wine is aged 14 months in 10% new French oak barriques. Chateau du Moulin a Vent 2014 La Rochelle Moulin-à-Vent 93 The La Rochelle is exceptionally pure and rich with great equilibrium. It reveals deep flavors of red berries accented by toasted oak on a suave, juicy palate. Outstanding. Made from 80+ year old vines on a southerly exposure. All destemmed fruit; the wine is aged 14 months in 65% new oak. US Importer: Wilson Daniels
Domaine Cedric Vincent 2015 Les Merizes Moulin-à-Vent 91 From the Les Merizes climat, this is a Beaujolais of darker character, showing earthy dark cherry and hints of chocolate. It offers a lively, fruit driven nose and a supple, full palate of sappy, fresh dark red fruit. Impressive balance with gripping tannins that beg for a little more time in bottle.
Domaine du Moulin d’Eole 2015 Champ de Cour Moulin-à-Vent 91 Sourced from the Champ de Cour climat, this wine offers copious, sweet dark red plum with an uplifting notes of cherry liqueur. Smooth, silky mouth feel with an integrated, balanced palate of remarkable length.
Domaine Louis Boillot 2015 Les Brussellions Moulin-à-Vent ($40) 94 This exceptionally fine wine sourced from Les Brussellions in Moulin-à-Vent offers a highly perfumed, penetrating nose redolent of red berries, plum, pomegranate, and Asian spice. It’s a wine of impressive depth while retaining a refined, silky mouth feel, finishing with a juicy, fresh persistence. Best with 5+ years of bottle age. Destemmed and vinified using traditional Burgundian practices. Domaine Louis Boillot 2015 Les Rouchaux Moulin-à-Vent ($40) 93 Sourced from the Les Rouchaux climat, this is a youthful wine with a purple tinged hue and a penetrating perfume of rose petals, violets, and red berries. Rich and densely packed with black raspberry, red cherry, and earthy spices. Impressive depth and length in a refined, suave wine. Importer: Rare Wine Company
Domaine Martine & Pierre-Marie Chermette 2015 La Rochelle Moulin-à-Vent 91 This is a serious vin de garde that requires additional cellaring to show its best. It offers red plum, raspberry and cinammon spice on the nose. On the palate, it reveals good concentration on a round palate with firm tannins on the finish. Made semi-carbonic, the wine is aged 8 months in used oak. The southeast facing 2 ha vineyard parcel at La Rochelle overlooks the winemill that gives the appellation its name.
Domaine Paul Janin 2015 Les Greneriers Moulin-à-Vent 92 Les Greneriers reveals an earth-inflected nose of cassis, licorice, and Asian spices. Shows a mineral-accented, silky textured palate of impressive depth and focus with a firm tannic backbone. From the very low yielding (20 hl/ha), low gobelet trained Les Greneriers vineyard planted in the early 20th century; vinified whole bunch for 12-14 days.
Domaine Richard Rottiers 2015 Champ de Cour Moulin-à-Vent ($35) 93 Medium dark ruby. This an elegant, finely textured very fresh Beaujolais from an 80 year old, 1 ha parcel in the Champ de Coeur climat. The bouquet is redolent of ripe red raspberry with cherry skin and rose petal nuances that are complemented by hints of sweet underbrush and spice on an especially silky, suave palate. Made by semi-carbonic maceration, aged 10+ months in oak vats and barrels. US Importer: Constantine Wine Columbia, Maryland
Georges Duboeuf 2015 Domaine du Pourpre Moulin-à-Vent ($27) 91 Made from 50+ year old vines, the Domaine du Pourpre offers a vivacious perfume of fresh black raspberries and violets with hints of licorice and minerals. The fruity, juicy palate follows suit with exuberant flavors and freshness, finishing with round firm tannins.
Georges Duboeuf 2015 Domaine des Rosiers Moulin-à-Vent ($24) 92 A fruity, floral bouquet recalls rose petals, violets, and mixed summer berries. These are picked up on the palate with the addition of attractive pomegranate and underbrush notes that add nuance. A serious wine with a firm backbone and a persistent, deep and long finish. Hand harvested with semi-carbonic maceration and 30% barrel aging. Sourced from Gérard Charvet’s 20 ha single vineyard Domaine des Rosiers near Chenas. We earlier tasted a tank sample of this wine with Franck Duboeuf at the winery and are very pleased with its development. Earthy notes are complemented by fresh red plum on the nose. This is a serious Beaujolais with a firm backbone and juicy red fruit on the palate. Importer: Quintessential Wine Napa, California
Jean-Paul Brun 2015 La Rochelle Moulin-à-Vent 94 The La Rochelle offers a captivating wine that combines a silky, soft, beautifully feminine texture with lively, almost flamboyant aromas and deep, rich flavors. Mineral-accented scents of red fruit with floral nuances give way to a seamless, refined but firmly structured palate. Give this wine some time in cellar. Importer: Louis/Dressner New York
Maison Jean Loron 2015 Champ de Cour Moulin-à-Vent 92 The Champ de Cour offers a profusely perfumed bouquet of violets and plum with a nuance of tobacco and an uplifting note of red berry. This is a big wine, densely flavored, thickly textured and mouth filling with both fruit and earth nuances. A great wine for steak.
Maison Le Nid 2014 La Rochelle Moulin-à-Vent 91 This is a lovely, medium-weight red-fruited wine revealing Montmorency cherry and red berry character. It’s clean and focused on the palate with lovely, pure fruit flavors and a lingering finish. From a 1 ha parcel of densely planted, 50 year old vines, harvested by hand, partially destemmed, and aged in used oak barrels for 12 months. The Lardet family owns 12 vineyards in Moulin-à-Vent.
Manoir du Carra 2015 Les Burdelines Moulin-à-Vent 92 Medium garnet red. Refined in character and silky smooth in texture, this is a lovely, bright red fruited wine showing fresh red cherry with complicating black raspberry and herbal notes. Sourced from the Les Burdelines climat. The grapes are partially destemmed, fermented Burgundy style, and aged in oak. US Importer: Kysela