It’s time to take Beaujolais seriously.

Posted on Mar, 06. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

image_518995_fullIf I had to choose one kind of wine that I rarely reach for, but am most often pleasantly surprised by, it would have to be Cru Beaujolais. We’ve done very little with it in the Guild; there’s a great little Régnié that we have stocked on the shelves (and has enjoyed a sort of mini-cult status among those who try it!), but by and large, I just tend to overlook it. Perhaps it’s just that there’s so much generic Beaujolais AOC or villages-level stuff out there that evokes little beyond bright cherries; perhaps all of our brains have been trained, by the lore surrounding Nouveau, to not take it seriously. In any case, I feel like it’s so neglected that it’s almost criminal, especially when a rep brings around a quality bottle and I’m reminded of how brilliant it can be.

To wit: recently, I tried the Chateau de Jacques Moulin-à-Vent 2011, and was sincerelytaken aback. It had honestly been years since I tried a Bojo with this much power, structure, grace and soul, and I couldn’t let it slip away like so many others.

My first thought was just how Burgundian it was. If there’s one valid criticism of Gamay, it’s that it often lacks the structure and composure that good Burgundy has in spades, and thus doesn’t age well and is less serious. Of course, that goes for Nouveau, and much of the villages-level bottlings, but even a good deal of Crus tend to be drink-now wines with less stalwartness than many villages wines from the Cote d’Or. Well, if you’re looking for Burgundian Gamay, look no further than Moulin-à-Vent. These are the most serious, structured wines of Beaujolais. Vines don’t thrive as well here due to the manganese in the soil, which means lower yields…and thus, more concentration and character.

The Chateau de Jacques (a label under the Louis Jadot umbrella) is certainly one of the best examples of this serious style of Gamay that I’ve had. Almost like Pommard in its power, there are even elements here that you are more likely to find in Bandol than Burgundy: mint, sulfur/iron, dusty herbs and smoked meat. In terms of a core, it’s made up primarily of that trademark red cherry/raspberry fruit, but even that’s not nearly as playful as in your everyday Beaujolais. In terms of weight and texture, this again drinks like Pommard; unlike most Beaujolais, it’s partially aged in oak, adding to the brooding “serious wine” aura and giving it even more structure. There’s bright acid, but it’s not sharp, and the finish is soft yet tannic – all of which leads me believe that this will be even better in 5 or 6 years.

Here’s Wine Advocate’s David Schildknecht on the matter…seems as though we’re in agreement:

Reflecting (as explained in my introductory notes) the inclusion of all of Chateau des Jacques’s fruit from Champs de Cour and Clos des Thorins as well as the usual selected lots from all of their other Clos holdings, a generic 2011 Moulin-a-Vent mingles ripe dark cherry, plum and cassis with marrow-rich savory suggestions of meat stock. Salt, stone, iodine, mocha and toasted nuts add intrigue to a sustained finish in this lovely, tenderly textured and relatively gentle offering that pales slightly only in comparison with the active impingement that characterizes this year’s Chenas and Fleurie tasted immediately before. Incidentally, this was brought-up in one-third each in new barriques, used barriques and tank, in contrast with the nearly 100% new barrels in which the estate’s single vineyard Moulin-a-Vents continue to be raised. An outstanding value, it should reward following at least through 2017 and quite possibly beyond. 91 points.

At retail, yes, an outstanding value. At Guild prices, though, it’s under $20…true “no-brainer” territory. You want wine like this north of Chagny? Prepare to pay double! If you’re inexperienced in how rewarding serious Beaujolais can be, this is your crash course…but if you already know, then you’ve probably clicked the order link by now.

Chateau de Jacques Moulin-à-Vent
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $19.06 • Premier Cru: $19.93[/private_member]
Retail Price: ~$26.00

Buy Now!

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