Château Moulin à Vent – 2016

Update 20.6.2019(8.2.2019)billn

Tasted in Moulin à Vent with Jean-Jacques Parinet, Brice Laffond and Morgane Chambriard, 08 February 2019.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent
4 Les Thorins
71570 Romanèche-Thorins
Tel: +33 3 85 35 50 68

Brice on 2018:
A fine year for us – a year that was easier in the vines, that said 2017 was quite easy apart from the 15 minutes of hail! We made 35 hl/ha here in 2018, a sunny year, though less sunny than 2015 – rounder wines too, similarly powerful – at least at this stage in their evolution. 2015 stressed the vines and the grapes – very small grapes – but 2018 more classic in terms of the weather and some juice in the grapes too. We had a little lift from some rain just before harvest, which started 30 August, but was quite a long harvest as all the maturities were at different stages.

Brice on 2017:
It was a super year in the vines with a lovely Spring and low pressure from maladies but then came the hail – we lost a lot – it was the heart of the appellation that was mainly hit and we were right in the middle of the path. Fortunately the grapes that remained were in good health and we think in the end the wines have some power and lots of balance, but we lost approximately 70% though. We’d finished all the training of the vines and then boom. So we destemmed about 90% and had a big team to do triage but for the actual harvest we needed only half the number of harvesters.

On 2016:
33 hl/ha in 2016, not touched by the hail – or virtually not – 2017 was more like 9 hl/ha. Verillats, Rochelle and Clos London don’t have separate cuvées in that vintage. We used more whole clusters in 2016 – an average 35% – but the stems were very ripe. It’s a lovely vintage for us as we see a strong mark from the different terroirs in each wine – though a hyper-complicated vintage – we had no idea what we might produce in the first part of the year, it was very wet six months but the last part of the vintage was ideal. We, like everyone who is organic, had to pray a lot in this vintage!

During an interesting exchange with Jean-Jacques on the general market I was taken by the following assertion “We have an approach to viticulture that isn’t cheap, and to sell such wine in France is hard – they are less open to paying for that!

As in the previous years, the domaine shows wines that have finished elevage, not their tank or barrel samples – so 2016 for the reds. It’s the first time I went though the whole Domaine Roc des Boutires whites – 2017 is a great place to start too!

The wines

All the reds are close to great and one certainly is great in 2016 – the whites of 2017 are mainly great. Such a rewarding visit!

The first wines were two bottled in Dec 2017, the parcel selections were done in April 2018:

2016 Château du Moulin à Vent, Moulin à Vent Couvent des Thorins
An assembly of parcels, ‘For us this is more about gamay on granite that comes from Moulin à Vent, rather than the other wines that are more about Moulin à Vent.’
Hmm – a nice width slightly floral but also a hint tight – air always deepening the fruit. Nice width, decent intensity, fresh and concentrated at the same time. Wide and layered finishing. More a mineral impression, less one of sweetness vs the 2017s previously tasted.

2016 Château du Moulin à Vent, Moulin à Vent
Much deeper, faintly salt and spiced on the nose. Ooh – that’s so great – wide, fresh, mineral, dark-fruited. A touch of licorice and tannin, juicy finishing. Ooh that’s soooo good!

2016 Moulin à Vent – Croix des Vérillats
The cross of redemption, which was by a nearby wall, west from the château. It’s a poor, sandy, granitic soil over rock in the high part of the appellation. The sunniest terroir of the domaine so almost with a constant hydric stress for the vines, bringing very small berries. 4.5 heacares for this cuvée, typically all oak elevage.
A broader nose, also of depth, also with a little spiced character to the nose. Ooh, a freshness that sweeps you into the mid and then onward to the finish – in-between is delicious, part mineral, part sweet, dark fruit. A wider finishing panorama here, and so persistent too.

So-far, upfront, wow impressions to first flavours!

2016 Château du Moulin à Vent, Moulin à Vent Champs Cours
Lower altitude, nearer the Moulin, still granitic, sandy, soil but with more depth and below 20cm with some clay.
A different nose – good width, but here with a fine floral accompaniment, maybe a suggestion of oak too – but the most charming of invitations. Ooh – fresh attack again, mineral with freshness but concentration – growing in insistence, juicy finishing again, slightly saline. This is really great stuff – all have the character of the vintage but all with their own differences.

2015 Château du Moulin à Vent, Moulin à Vent La Rochelle
This and all the ‘climat’ wines proclaim the number of bottles produced. The same sand as Verillats – unlike the clay of Champ de Coeur – also a warm climat but usually with hydric stress. Mainly old vines here – of about 80 years old – starting now to make some replantings.
Deep and dark – some toasty impression, but not of overt wood – more a licorice-style smoke. Extra direct, extra fresh, hyper silky but then with a growing frame of modest tannin – great, baby wine – bravo!
Les Blancs of Domaine Roc des Boutires…

2017 in this area was a little like 2018, not a lot of rain, but enough. Quite sunny and balanced because there was some volume, good wines, rich wines but with energy – very different to the 20 hl/ha wines of 2016 – a more classic vintage with an imprint of the warm year. Practically everything was harvested in 3 days here in 2017.

All the wines are sealed with (expensive) cork today, they have stopped with DIAM – ‘I think great whites should have great corks’ – I personally disagree – about 30% barrel elevage which is quite similar to the approach for the reds here.

2017 Mâcon-Solutre
Three parcels, one bordering Pouilly-Fuissé 1er Cru! All is done by hand here.
Perfumed, saline – ooh that’s a great nose. Ooh – fresh, mineral, mouth-watering, juicy, saline inflected wine – there’s a shape that’s suggests Mâcon but a great, complex and delicious freshness too. You may not find better M-S in 2017!

2017 Pouilly-Fuissé
Many small parcels go into this – three bigger ones and then lots of smaller ones – all bar one on the Pouilly side, the other in Fuissé. This bottled December 2018
A nose of more volume, more width, a little less depth – more a fine-grained complexity. Ooh – big, fresh, mineral wine, melting over the palate. Such great, juicy, layers of flavour. Excellent!

2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Bertillione
All from the higher slopes with gravels but below is very limestone.
A nose that’s more like the Solutré – with perfume to add to the fruit – so inviting! Lots of mouth-filling volume – fresh and mineral but cut with a richer agrume-style fruit. More energy in the finish – ooh – so good again, but so different!

2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Vers Cras
Lower slopes, a limestone plateau that has a 1er cru notation. As the name really stony limestone here.
Ooh – that’s the best nose yet – fine clarity of very beautiful perfume. Delicious energy, faintly lemon-cream, direction, mineral – great blanc – love!
2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Bouthières
The largest parcel and oldest vines of this selection – about 70 years old. Higher on the slope, more exposed, facing east, south-east, some clay that ‘sticks’ here but with small stones in. Elevage with 50% barrel.
Deep, interesting, less of the clarity of the last but with a fine invitation all the same. Fuller, richer but full-flavoured and more than interesting – great texture and layers of delicious flavour. I’ve a preference for the previous wine, but this is likely it’s equal – it’s only a style question.
2017 Pouilly-Fuissé Les Chailloux
The same terroir as Bouthières but south-facing. 60 year-old vines – ‘lovely vines – it would the perfect place to do a massale selection’
Bigger, deeper, creamier nose – a style change – or maybe that’s just the orientation speaking! Ooh, so mineral, so melting, so delicious, despite some creamy oak in here. Super texture, a little finishing coconut but I can’t hold that against this great wine – wait 2-3 years – you will be amply rewarded – brilliant length here!

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