Joseph Drouhin Moulin-a-Vent 2005 Tasting Notes
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Joseph Drouhin Moulin-à-Vent 2005 Tasting Notes

Founded in 1880, Maison Joseph Drouhin is still family-run. Though the core of Drouhin's business remains in Burgundy proper, this négociant/eleveur also reaches due south into Beaujolais, with some impressive results.

Some have called Moulin-à-Vent (the namesake windmill still stands among the vines) the “poor man's Burgundy,” but why not turn the metaphor around; one could just as easily say that this is what a $17 wine ought to be and that much of (Pinot Noir-based) red Burgundy may be overpriced. As a Beaujolais, of course, the Moulin-à-Vent is 100% Gamay. There is nothing “poor” about it. It simply does not make sense to compare the wine to the product of a completely different grape, even if those grapes are grown just a few villages to the north.

The nose first gives a vegetal mushroom, a verdant leafiness, before the fruit comes through as plum jam with floral overtones. The wine is dry, with low to medium acidity. The tannins tag along like a well-trained guard dog that could bite but won't; in other words, they work, and through the entire cycle of taste. On the palate the fruit is more evident than on the nose: sour cherry, dried cherry, prune, a touch of candied (fruitcake) fruit, black currant jam. There is an echo of the nose's mushroom and definite spice: vanilla, light clove and the warm edge of black pepper.

Ripeness, with firm fruit, is an abiding theme for this wine from first contact to satisfying finish. “Complexity” may easily seem a cliché, until you swirl the wine in your mouth and realize that human beings had to put their heart and soul into it (and the Drouhin family name on it); the same for “concentrated.” I have been pleased with several $12 Beaujolais Crus in recent tastings, yet the $5 premium for this “windmill” is very well spent.


Verdict: Firm fruit and elegance
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In proper proportions, and as a constituent of a complex but well-balanced wine, candied fruit notes come into their prime.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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