WINE REVIEW: The Joys of Two Cru Beaujolais
Château du Moulin-à-Vent 2019, Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, France ($32)
Couvent des Thorins 2019, Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, France ($23)
by Andrew Chalk
There is no producing area in Beaujolais further in style from Beaujolais Nouveau than Moulin-à-Vent. Local enologists attribute it to a combination of winemaking techniques and the magnesium in the pink granitic soil. The latter yields good, oxymoronically, by virtue of being toxic to vines. Its effects produce smaller clusters of grapes that are more concentrated than otherwise. As a result, they are amenable to winemaking techniques designed to create ageworthy (ten years) wines with more tannic structure than wines made in the eight other Grand Cru Beaujolais villages. They are still 100% of the gamay grape.
Being a Grand Cru in Beaujolais does not carry the same global attention as being a Grand Cru in Burgundy to the north. As a result, prices are much more affordable. In fact, because the grape is revered by sommeliers but not the broader wine drinking public, which tends to think of Beaujolais as being Beaujolais Nouveau, and due to a strong dollar, Grand Cru Beaujolais can be argued to be something of a bargain right now.
The two wines in this review are a good case in point. The wine lover approaching Cru Beaujolais for the first time would likely be happy with the lower-priced Couvent des Thorins. That is $23 for a near peak expression of an appellation best. The extra nine dollars for the other wine buys you slightly more tannic structure, a more ever present finish, and complex forest floor notes intermingled in the mouth. So, start with the less expensive wine and, if gamay made to be its finest expression appeals to you, graduate to the other one.