Wine Spectator: The Distinctive Crus of Beaujolais – Featuring Château du Moulin-à-Vent
“Amid Changing Tastes, the region’s fresh reds broaden their appeal”
As the pendulum of taste swings toward lighter, more elegant wines, Americans are increasingly looking for alternatives to the blockbusters that have been popular for so long. The Gamay-based reds from France’s Beaujolais region are an excellent option, full of character and offering great value.
The most interesting wines come from the crus, which best display the region’s distinctive terroirs. Moulin-à-Vent is arguably the most coveted cru, producing concentrated and ageworthy Gamays. With 1,500 acres under vine, Moulin-à-Vent boasts more than 60 lieux-dits—sites with unique topographic elements—on pink granite soils with seams of manganese.
One winery working diligently to promote the terroirs of Moulin-à-Vent is Château du Moulin-à-Vent, which was acquired by the Parinet family in 2009. Edouard Parinet co-runs the winery alongside his father, Jean-Jacques.
From the 2016 vintage, the estate’s three single-vineyard bottlings—the Champ de Cour (92, $64), La Rochelle (92, $68) and Les Vérillats (90, $60)—exemplify the cru‘s concentration and structure, showcasing flavors of bright red fruit along with floral, mineral and spice accents encased in polished, refined textures.
According to Parinet, three things make Moulin-à-Vent “the lord of the crus“: the drying winds during harvest time (the cru is named after its iconic 15th-century windmill that exists to this day); the eroded granitic, sandy-textured soils; and the presence of heat-reflecting silica in the soils in the upper areas of the appellation. Each of these features creates more stress for the Gamay vines, resulting in smaller, more concentrated berries than those of the other crus.
Parinet does not utilize semi-carbonic maceration, a typical winemaking practice in Beaujolais, which emphasizes fruit while reducing tannic structure. Instead, the grapes for his wines are crushed and then fermented in stainless-steel tanks followed by aging for at least 12 months in mostly used French oak barrels.
“Traditional winemaking enables us to better show the diversity of terroir in Moulin-à-Vent rather than if we used carbonic or semi-carbonic vinification, which is known for really revealing the primary aromas of Gamay,” explains Parinet. “And if you show the primary aromas of Gamay, you don’t show as much diversity of terroir.”
GILLIAN SCIARETTA’S RECOMMENDED WINES FROM BEAUJOLAIS
CHÂTEAU DU MOULIN-À-VENT
Moulin-à-Vent Champ de Cour 2016
Score: 92 | $64
WS Review: This strikes a good balance between elegance and power, with floral notes weaving through raspberry reduction and cherry tart flavors.
CHÂTEAU DU MOULIN-À-VENT
Moulin-à-Vent La Rochelle 2016
Score: 92 | $68
WS Review: A modern style, with rich touches to the black cherry compote and raspberry reduction notes, hinting at licorice, rose petal and smoke.