Remaking Beaujolais’ Moulin à Vent
“You’d think with a posh name like Chateau du Moulin à Vent and possessed of an 18th-century pile that could have served very well as a location for Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the owners would do all they could to capitalize on these assets and make classy wine they could sell for big money.
“But no, they didn’t.
“Until 2009, at least, the disinterested owners of Chateau du Moulin à Vent in Beaujolais sold 98% of their wine in bulk to négociants and pocketed the cash without having to deal with the inconvenient business of marketing and selling the stuff.
“This is, perhaps, not as illogical as it seems. Moulin à Vent is one of the 10 villages in Beaujolais that are allowed to sell their wines under the village name – Moulin à Vent, Morgon, Juliènas etc. – but even with this advantage they’re still Beaujolais, and Beaujolais’s not exactly riding a wave of trendiness at the moment like….oh, say, rosé. Not even close.
“After the marketing triumph of Beaujolais Nouveau in the 1970’s and ’80’s the appellation’s reputation sunk and sunk as wine drinkers realized that it really wasn’t that good at all.
“But there are good Beaujolais, age-worthy Beaujolais, fine, interesting Beaujolais, and they’re made in the 10 Cru villages.
“Step forward Jean-Jacques Parinet and his son Edouard. In 2009 they bought the property and embarked upon a major, and very expensive, renovation upgrading the cellars and replanting many of the vineyards.
“They set out from the beginning to make the best quality wine possible – an approach not always encountered in the region – and its success is on display in IMax brilliance throughout the range of the five wines I tasted with Edouard on his recent visit to New York.
“But there’s more. In addition to this focus on quality, they’re doing something radically different in the cellar, or at least radically different for Beaujolais. Beaujolais acquires its distinctive personality at least in part by the use of a fermentation process known as carbonic maceration – don’t ask — and they have abandoned it.
“The result is a range of fabulous, polished, beautifully made, thoroughly modern wines expertly crafted to appeal to today’s tastes; they’re just not Beaujolais.
“Yet, Chateau du Moulin à Vent could very well be the remaking of the appellation, and perhaps even open a whole new world for Beaujolais…”