Memorable Moulin-a-Vent

If the name “Beaujolais” makes you think of a soft, fruity, quaffable but hardly memorable bottle of affordable red wine, get ready for an attitude adjustment.

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After all, there’s Beaujolais, and then there’s the Beaujolais that’s so special that it doesn’t even have the name Beaujolais on the label. This is not a matter of shame but pride: The wines made in 10 of the Beaujolais region’s most favored villages – the Crus of Beaujolais – have earned the right, through centuries of high quality, to place the village name in place of the generic regional moniker on the label.

Like generic Beaujolais (including Beaujolais Nouveau) and the more highly regarded Beaujolais-Villages, these Crus are made from the Gamay grape. They may share the ripe and fruity character and its characteristic strawberry aromas, although a good one, as most of them are, should be more complex and refined.

(In much of France, the title “cru,” meaning “growth,” is assigned to a specific vineyard considered worthy of special attention, like the Grand Cru title for the top vineyards of Burgundy and Bordeaux. In Beaujolais, though, the entire vineyard area surrounding the named village gets the cru designation.)

Top-shelf Cru Beaujolais in particular can be counted on to show intriguing complexity that you aren’t likely to find in their generic cousins. At their best, they can even benefit from time in a proper temperature-controlled cellar. So next time you’re in the mood for a food-friendly red like Beaujolais but want something a little more serious, it’s worth looking for one of the Crus, even if you have to spend a little more to enjoy it.

The Cru villages occupy the northern half of the region, with generic Beaujolais in the south. Here’s a complete list of the crus, from south to north: Côte de Brouilly, Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas and Saint-Amour.

I like them all, but my favorites, based on their consistent complexity, balance, and relatively full-bodied flavor in my experience, are Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Morgon, and the subject of today’s tasting, Moulin-à-Vent.

Moulin-à-Vent, declares the trade association Discovering Beaujolais, is “The highest rated of all the Beaujolais Crus … is ruby to dark garnet in color with floral and fruity aromas. Full-bodied and complex, these wines have hints of iris, spice and ripe fruit.”

 A sign at Domaine Diochon, pictured on the winery's page at importer Kermit Lynch's website.

A sign at Domaine Diochon, pictured on the winery’s page at importer Kermit Lynch’s website.

Today’s featured wine, Domaine Diochon 2017 Moulin-à-Vent Cuvée Vieilles Vignes, comes from one of my all-time favorite importers, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant of Berkeley, Calif. When I’m browsing for wine, if I see Kermit Lynch’s name on the label, I don’t need to ask any further questions.

Kermit Lynch is working with his son, Anthony Lynch, nowadays, and the acorn does not seem to have fallen far from the tree. Anthony’s lyrical prose in this short essay about Domain Domaine Diochon Moulin-à-Vent sounds a lot like his dad’s familiar style:

Anybody expecting the stereotypical light, easygoing Beaujolais is in for a surprise here. The 2017 harvest was drastically reduced in quantity by a violent spring hailstorm, followed by hot, dry weather that further concentrated the remaining grapes. Add old vines and Moulin-à-Vent’s terroir – known for giving powerful, long-lived wines – to the equation, and you end up with this dense, stony red, jam-packed with savory, sanguine accents, an almost creamy mid-palate perked up by fresh acidity, and a long finish redolent of sucking on a cherry pit. Gamay can flex its muscles, too!

I get more black fruit than red, but I can’t quibble with his overall view. It’s an excellent wine, as good a Cru Beaujolais as I can recall tasting, well worth its mid-$20s toll.


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Today’s Tasting Report

Domaine Diochon 2017 Moulin-à-Vent Cuvée Vieilles Vignes ($26.99)

Domaine Diochon Moulin-à-Vent

This medium-dark reddish-purple Cru Beaujolais from Domaine Diochon is clear despite being unfined and unfiltered, the sign of good and careful wine making. Distinct but subtle scents of blackberries are backed by a haunting back note of good, earthy red clay. Dark berry and tart black cherry flavors carry over on the palate with brisk acidity and firm but palatable tannins. Distinct minerality is present in the background of this well-balanced, appealing wine, and its rational 13 percent alcohol doesn’t get in the way. Producer: Thomas Patrenotre. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (July 24 , 2019)

FOOD MATCH: Grilled meat or poultry would serve this bottle very well, as would flavorful cheese- or bean-based entrees. It went nicely with fat, midsummer green peppers stuffed with ground beef and bulghur.

WHEN TO DRINK: It’s fine now, but the good news about Moulin-à-Vent – especially this Moulin-à-Vent – is that it can age surprisingly well, in contrast with simple Beaujolais. This powerful vintage could certainly age, and evolve into Pinot-like complexity, for a decade, assuming quality, temperature-controlled cellar conditions. Even on a wine rack at room temperature, it ought to be good, if not evolve quite so elegantly, for five years.

My local price is a couple of bucks under’s $28 average retail and a dollar below importer Kermit Lynch’s suggested retail. That said, it’s a remarkable Cru Beaujolais, and certainly competitive with other quality French reds that claim higher prices.

This link will take you to importer Kermit Lynch’s fact sheet, with a link to purchase the wine.

Locate vendors and check prices for Domaine Diochon Moulin-à-Vent Cuvée Vieilles Vignes on

Read more about Moulin-à-Vent and browse a long list of wines from the region on this page.


More affordable wines

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past year or two. Please tell us about your favorites!

  • Laroque 2016 Cité de Carcassonne Cabernet Franc ($9.99)
  • Domaine de Pouy 2016 Côtes de Gascogne ($7.99)
  • Alamos 2015 Salta Torrontés ($9.99)
  • Alamos 2015 Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)
  • Caposaldo 2014 Chianti ($8.99)
  • d’Arenberg 2012 McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” ($9.99)
  • Oveja Negra 2014 Maule Valley Cabernet Franc – Carmenere Reserva ($9.99)
  • Côté Mas 2016 “Rouge Intense” Sud de France Pays d’Oc ($12.99/1 liter)

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