Moulin-à-Vent, regarded as the King of the Beaujolais wines and one of the region’s 10 grand crus, benefits from excellent growing conditions for the Gamay grape variety which reaches great heights of taste in this region making for a classy wine with a deep ruby red color. One of the great AOCs, the French acronym for a designated label of origin, in all of the Beaujolais and all of France, Moulin-à-Vent are akin to the Burgundies for their vineyards are found in the far northern reaches of Beaujolais just 45 miles (70 km) south of Beaune. This is a vineyard of the ages. The first vines were planted there in the 1st century AD by the usual suspects, the Romans. The wines were approved by Louis XIV in the 17th century and made their entrance at the court of France. It would obtain its AOC in 1936.
Nestled within the appellation, the designated label of origin, one finds the Domaine Château du Moulin-à-Vent wine estate, perhaps one of the most beautiful estates in the region with its castle and eye-catching windmill that dates back to the 17th century. This year the estate is hosting the Jazz in Moulin-à-Vent a wine tasting bringing together Moulin-à-Vent winemakers and a live jazz concert on May 27th. But the Château du Moulin-à-Vent estate offers guided tours and tastings in the 19th century Chapel located in the courtyard of the estate, by appointment as well. Here the vine plants are old, averaging 50 years although some parcels are 80 and 85-years-old. The estate is home to a variety of complex manganese-rich soils which benefit from different altitudes and exposures all part and parcel to the estate’s superb wines. The vineyards are spread out around the Château itself, the windmill which dates back to 1555 and the hamlet of Les Thorins. The estate’s old Gamay noir vines, planted in high density, grow in the middle of the hillside of Les Thorins, where the soils present the most balanced profiles. The mill was built in the middle of the 16th century when both vines and cereals were grown on the property and its presence indicates the regular and powerful winds that blow here fostering the vineyard’s good health and drying up the grapes and so participating in the concentration of the juice.
The estate has always been a family affair with three families at the helm over the centuries since the house’s founding in 1732. It all began with Philiberte Pommier, a visionary. She inherited the estate and already in 1794 she began to carefully curate the vineyard’s individual parcels. She would manage the Château des Thorins, as it was then called, up until her death in 1862 at the age of 99 and her hard work was awarded the Gold Medal by the Paris International Exposition Universelle. Her descendants remained the owners of the estate until 1911 when the chateau and the vineyards were sold to Julien Damoy, an entrepreneur turned wine-maker. It would remain in his family for nearly one hundred years. The Parent family would purchase the house in 2009 and today Edouard Parinet and Brice Laffond continue down the path of great winemaking initiated by Philiberte Pommier nearly 300 years ago. The vines are farmed using organic and biodynamic methods. They are also the subject of continuous care and experimentation: optimization of pruning techniques, foliage management, choice of the optimal harvest date, and massal selections. This last exciting work began in 2015: plants with unique characteristics are constantly selected in order to preserve the genetic diversity of Gamay, explains the estate. ©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette. Château du Moulin-à-Vent 4, rue des Thorins – Le Moulin-à-Vent 71570 Romanèche- Thorins.Tel: +33 (0)3 85 35 50 68. https://www.chateaudumoulinavent.com/
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