Château du Moulin-à-Vent Through the Seasons

Château du Moulin-à-Vent
Back in November last year, I was contacted by Morgane at Château du Moulin-à-Vent. He proposed sending some samples knowing my interest in food and wine pairings.  We had just returned from a trip to Lyon, France where we had the opportunity to taste the versatility of Cru Beaujolais. As the unofficial food capital of France, we had many dishes from light to robustly rich, and almost always we were enjoying them with Cru Beaujolais. Beaujolais is the closest wine region to Lyon and it enjoys the home-town advantage there!

I must admit I was surprised when the wines arrived: not one but four bottles of Château du Moulin-à-Vent, including several single vineyard samples and all with some age. These wines were too nice to open all at once for a comparison, I decided to show the versatility of Cru Beaujolais by sampling the bottles over dinners through the year.

First, a Bit About Château du Moulin-à-Vent
Château du Moulin-à-Vent is a historic estate in the Beaujolais, dating back to 1732. In 2009 the Chateau was purchased by Jean-Jacques Parinet who undertook a major renovation of both vineyards and cellar to take advantage of the exceptional terroir. The work included moving the viticulture to a sustainable system using natural soil amendments and hand operations in the vineyards. Vinification also uses natural methods and a Burgundian approach, aging the wines in oak. The resulting wines are closer kin to those north in Burgundy than Beaujolais produced in cement by carbonic maceration.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent Through the Seasons
I started in earnest in March with hearty dishes appropriate for Minnesota winter. Moving into warmer weather, we enjoyed the wines with more summer-like fare, ending up on the porch on a warm summer evening. That’s a versatile wine! In our correspondence, Morgane explained: “one of the great advantages of Moulin-à-Vent: it has enough structure to firmly stand next to any food, but isn’t too heavy so it doesn’t crush the taste of it.” My conclusion: Cru Beaujolais wines are some of the most versatile choices at the dinner table, and they offer excellent value. If you haven’t already discovered them, pick one up the next time you are in your local wine shop. If they stock Château du Moulin-à-Vent, don’t hesitate to start there!

(for the following slide shows, click on any photo to enter full size slides, hit “escape” to return)

Winter – Seared Lamb Chops with Anchovies, Capers & Sage
Morgane suggested lamb for the Croix des Verillats and it was a nice match. I tried a new recipe from the New York Times, usually a reliable source and how could I go wrong with anchovies, capers and sage? The combination was delicious, but so intensely flavored, I’ll reduce the amounts of the ingredients the next time I make the dish as they overpowered the lamb.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent, Moulin-à-Vent AOC “Croix des Vérillats” 2011 (sample, $60 online)
And for wine, the Croix des Verillats was up to the challenge. Moulin-a-Vent in general, and this sample in particular had plenty of depth for such a big, savory dish. The lively acidity in the wine also went a long way to cleansing the palate in between powerfully flavored bites.

Early “Spring” Pairing: Pork Chops with Gremolata
In Minnesota, we anticipate the end of winter starting in early March.  Unfortunately, spring doesn’t arrive in earnest until May, so we’re left with a desire to for fresh local vegetables and lighter dishes well before they are available. No matter, thanks to the modern grocery distribution chain, we can always get asparagus and fresh herbs, so Pork Chops with Gremolata seemed a good way to look forward to fresher flavors of spring while still having something warm and filling for those cold “early spring” evenings.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent, Moulin-à-Vent AOC “Champ de Cour” 2011 (sample, $60 online)
Eye: Clear, pale+ ruby with a definite purple edge.
Nose: Clean, fruit is interesting, raspberry impression but I can’t shake the idea of a black raspberry (the wine is darker pale). Plenty of clean earth, with fresh herbs in the background.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ acidity, low tannins. Delicious combination of fruit and clean earth flavor which lingers. The herbal touch paired nicely with the gremolata.

Late Spring – Roast Lemon Basil Chicken on the Grill
I love playing with fire, which is why I use my grill all through the year. This chicken could easily be made in the oven, but why not go outside and enjoy the late spring weather?  Preparation was easy, to spatchcock the chicken, you just use heavy kitchen scissors to cut out the backbone, then flatten the breast.  I stuff fresh basil and lemon slices under the skin, and the bird goes on the grill at 350°F. One of the things I like best about Cru Beaujolais is its’ pairing versatility. High acidity, low tannins and plenty of flavor make for a wine that partners with a wide variety of foods.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent, Moulin-à-Vent AOC 2012 (sample, $40 online)
Eye: Hazy (appears unfiltered) medium- intensity. Ruby with a cool edge.
Nose: Clean, fruit is interesting, cranberry & raspberry . Clean earth, with fresh herbs in the background.
Mouth: Dry, high acidity, low tannins. Lean, medium- body, medium alcohol, Raspberry flavor lingers in a nice long finish. Delicious food wine.

Summer Pairing – Grilled Swordfish with Green Bean & Tomato Salad
Delicate fish in very light sauces don’t come to mind as a natural pairing for red wine, but a hearty oceangoing fish like tuna or swordfish pairs beautifully, even more so when the fish is cooked over fire on the grill. We had grilled swordfish with a piquant salad of blanched green beans and tomatoes (from the garden!) in a Dijon mustard dressing, and the wine was a delicious match. I’m operating on memory for the other three bottles of Château du Moulin-à-Vent, but the “La Rochelle” was my favorite of the whole bunch.  Either because of the food pairing, or my mood, or the wine itself, commanded my attention with every taste.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent, Moulin-à-Vent “La Rochelle” AOC 2012 (sample, $55 suggested retail)
Eye: Hazy (appears unfiltered) medium intensity. Ruby with a ruby edge.
Nose: Clean, earthy edge on first impression with ripe raspberries, a touch of herbal and cedar note from oak
Mouth: Dry, medium body, medium+ to high acidity, low tannins. Delicious red fruits, with raspberry tones, but the flavor is more than just fruit. A little leather, a bit of herbs, with a fresh floral overtone. This was my favorite wine of the whole bunch.  I was struck every time I poured a glass, and I enjoyed this wine the next day at least as much as on day one. Well done!

Disclosure: A special thanks to Chateau du Moulin-a-Vent and their US distributor, Wilson Daniels, for providing the wines as samples. I enjoyed them through the seasons and with a variety of foods. All opinions expressed are my own.

Chateau du Moulin-a-Vent through the seasons at www.foodwineclick.com

Comments
5 Responses to “Château du Moulin-à-Vent Through the Seasons”
  1. This is wonderful Jeff. I love going through the seasons with you. Great the producer was patient, I know they are thrilled with the results. I seem to never have enough good Beaujolais in my life. These sound very nice.

  2. Lynn says:

    I’m finding, as you say, Beaujolais pairs with so many food, yet I haven’t had it with grilled dishes. Your seasonal approach is brilliant!

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