100 Best Wineries of the Year & 100 Best Wines of the Year Winner: Château du Moulin-à-Vent
Top 100 Wineries 2017: Château du Moulin-à-Vent
New owners have revitalized the historic Château du Moulin-à-Vent and its vineyards, bringing the estate’s wines to the forefront of Beaujolais.
Three owners in Three Centuries: The Pommier family founded the Château de Thorins in Moulin-à-Vent, gaining international attention at the Universal Exhibition in London in 1862. Madame Pommier, at the age of 99, presented her family’s 1854, ’58, and ’59 wines, ranked the best of the Mâcon at the exhibition. In 1911, the Pommiers sold the estate to the Damoy family, who owned a large department store in Paris. They renamed the property Château du Moulin-à-Vent, with ambitions to sell their wine at the store, but eventually lost interest and began selling the grapes to local co-ops. Jean-Jacques Parinet became the third owner in 2009. He had grown up with Moulin-à-Vent on the dinner table, and had made enough money in IT to finance the restoration of the estate. Working with his son, Edouard, and winemaker Brice Laffond, he set out to renovate the cellars and replant much of the vineyards at high density.
Looking North to Burgundy: Laffond began to implement organic and biodynamic practices in several of the parcels, working to restore the wines to the level they had achieved early on, when Madame Pommier was investigating the different characteristics of the estate parcels. Laffond is not making Beaujolais with carbonic maceration: He destems the bunches, cold soaks the fruit, pumps the juice over the skins before and after fermentation and ages the wines for 17 months or more in barrel.
Standing Apart: Most of the château’s vines are planted on granite soils, some veined in pink. Champ de Cour, with its southeastern exposure, is the most clay-dominated terroir of their holdings. It produced a powerful 2014 with lush, dark fruit and high notes of violets and irises. The 2014 La Rochelle has unbridled energy, thanks to the 70-year-old vines and its warm, southern exposure at the top of the Moulin-à-Vent appellation. It sits directly in a wind corridor that helps keep disease at bay and helps the grapes retain brisk acidity. Pure and plummy, it’s Beaujolais with the finesse of Burgundy, and it may make you think instinctively of country pâté, earthy terrines or roast rabbit.
Best Beaujolais: Château du Moulin-à-Vent, 2014 Moulin-à-Vent Champ de Cour
Jean-Jacques Parinet purchased this 18th-century domaine in 2009 and, working with his son, Edouard, set to renovating the winery and its 91.5 acres of vines. The property produced impressive 2014s, including this cool, racy, umami-driven red. The comes from an 8.4-acre parcel on a granite plateau; it was destemmed, cold-soaked with pre-fermentation pumpovers, and aged 17 months in French Oak (20 percent new). It may not be traditional Beaujolais winemaking, but it created a beautiful wine, with scents of wild herbs, deep flavors of woodland berries and remarkable freshness. Complex and youthful, this will likely be at its best five or six years from the vintage, and may well last much longer.