2012 Château du Moulin-à-Vent La Rochelle, Beaujolais, France
Like all Beaujolais reds, this wine from the Moulin-à-Vent Cru is made from 100% Gamay grapes.
It is a single vineyard wine from the ‘La Rochelle’ climat.
The vines are very old, about 70 years old and planted very densely (10,000 plants/ha) favoring concentration and quality.
The soils are granitic (called gorrhe) while the sub-soils are manganese- and iron-rich.
The age of the vines, combined with the difficult conditions of the vintage 2012 that forced to drastic sorting made for an extremely low yield off this vineyard that year (16hL/ha).
After fermentation, the wine was aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, 20% of which were new, while 80% had already been used.
The producer Château du Moulin-à-Vent has gone through a revival in recent years, and claims to be one of the best in the area and the Moulin-à-Vent appellation.
All these elements go to show, on paper at least, that this is not your average Beaujolais wine.
Clearly, I was wondering how all this care, attention to detail, and distinctive terroir would translate into the wine. What sort of wine quality would come out of it?
So how good is this single vineyard Beaujolais Cru wine?
The answer is in the tasting notes:
It is very dark for a Beaujolais wine. The rim is dark red with hues of purple AND slight hues of orange. All those hues combined make the heart of the glass look almost black, although you can see through as it’s not that dense. It’s Gamay, not Cab Sauv or Syrah!
A restrained nose only gives up dark notes of leather, cocoa, coffee and black pepper. You get the feeling it’s concentrated, but the aromas don’t really come out of the glass or let you perceive and understand what’s going on from the smell. Let’s dig out what this is about then… and taste.
Where do we start?
It’s actually quite hard to summarize such a wine. It delivers in so many aspects that are really not that common and expected, that it is difficult to fit it all in a few short pre-established sentences.
Let’s say that the grapes and the wine shine through intense flavors of Violette, blackberry, and black pepper.
The Violette is clearly marked and discernable in a way that is not that common in wine.
The blackberry is also clear and it is a dominant note. But it’s not the cooked jammy blackberry as we often find it in wines made from very ripe fruit like Chilean Cab, Aussie Shiraz. Here, it’s the fresh blackberry just harvested off the bush. Not only does it have a fruity element, but also an underlying grassiness and rawness.
The black pepper reminds of Syrah (or Shiraz) as it is so marked and intense here giving the wine a definite spiciness.
One can only imagine how concentrated the grape fruits would have been to come out with such concentration of fruit flavors in Beaujolais.
But the fruit is not alone here. A wealth of oak has been brought to the party and brings its share of flavors, complexity and depth. Oak flavors are aplenty with cocoa and vanilla helping the wine’s fruity element, like in a dark forest cake (have I mentioned the clear sour cherry notes in the wine, well they are there). The barrel aging has also brought many spices of a rare intensity here. Clove is the dominant one, but the five spices mix is all there.
Tannins are granulous, quite dry on the finish. But the wine feels balanced, with mid body and mid tannins. It does feel like a rich ripe wine from the flavors, but the palate is not as rich and dense as what you’d get out of warm regions like Australia, South America or California. The complexity and depth are there though.
Plenty of minerality are perceptible. There’s a marked chalkiness on the palate, like if chalk (sort of a limestone powder feel) had been dissolved into the wine.
An extremely interesting wine to find out what Beaujolais wine region can come out with, when the region is often not taken very seriously as far as serious world-class wines are concerned.
Ripe fruit with depth and complexity is what you should expect. Combined with plenty of quality oak influence.
But in a Beaujolais class of its own where it’s not about alcohol and showing-off body, texture of tannins. We’re into restrained characters, minerality, and mid-body elegance.
Although the wine is very good now, it feels built for aging and like it is meant to be kept for a few years in the cellar. The dichotomy that transpires out of those tasting notes (possibly) between oak and fruit, will be likely to come together and marry well in that time for the benefit of the wine and the patient wine lover. Even though the wine’s nearly 4 years old already, it feels that the wine was good enough to handle the amount of barrel aging it has, but that it hasn’t fully integrated it yet.
Give it another 2 to 3 years to open it fully. It should age a solid 5 to 10 years after that if you’re after aging bouquet and complexity.
Find out all about the producing winery with our Château du Moulin-à-Vent producer profile: