Joseph Drouhin Moulin-à-Vent 2005
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
In proper proportions, and as a constituent of a complex but well-balanced wine, candied fruit notes come into their prime.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman