Beaujolais: Not for Nouveau Anymore

Duboeuf's Moulin-à-Vent bottlings go the distance.


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In the wake of faltering U.S. demand for Beaujolais Nouveau, it should be no surprise that marketers are seeking other ways to promote Beaujolais wines. Insiders have known for years that some of the best crus of the region can age magnificently for up to a decade—and some wine writers have occasionally indulged in rapturous descriptions of historic old vintages, like the 1959 or 1947 at age 40 or 50.

Don't worry, this won't be one of those articles. But a recent tasting of Georges Duboeuf's Moulin-à-Vent bottlings that extended back to 1995 showed just how these wines develop over their first decade. Hosted by son Franck at New York's Restaurant Daniel, it was easy to spot the quality and consistency offered by these wines. Objectively, it would be difficult to say that the wines improve immensely with age; rather, they change character with time in the bottle, going from the supercharged, intensely fruity 2005 Carquelin to the earth-and-spice complexity of the 1995 Domaine des Rosiers. The young wines, with their bold, crisp fruit, made a perfect pairing with Chef Daniel Boulud's Lyonnais-style sausage with pistachio and truffle, while the older vintages, with their greater complexity, paired well with the main course of braised beef.

Although it may be difficult to find aged examples of Moulin-à-Vent in the market to try it for yourself, the wines are still inexpensive enough that you can cellar a few bottles of the excellent 2005s to drink from 2010-2015. Maybe you'll even be able to indulge in some over-the-top prose of your own 40 years from now.


 Brief impressions from the tasting

91 Georges Duboeuf 2005 Carquelin (Moulin-à-Vent); $14. Nicely balanced, with smoky notes gracing bold berry fruit. Intensely fruity and perfumed. Best Buy.
90 Georges Duboeuf 2005 Prestige (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. This is more structured and less effusively fruit-driven than the Carquelin, with slightly more obvious wood shadings. This may be the bottling to cellar.
86 Georges Duboeuf 2004 Fût de Chêne (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. Even out of magnum, this shows the difficulties of the vintage. It's supple and fruity, but lacks depth and richness. One to drink now.
89 Georges Duboeuf 2003 Prestige (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. Smoky and intense, this is extremely concentrated and ripe thanks to heat and drought. Not for classicists because of its hint of raisined fruit; even Franck Duboeuf wondered aloud "How long will it last?"
90 Georges Duboeuf 2002 Fût de Chêne (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. Smoke and dried spices from the oak give the black cherry flavors a nice lift and complexity. Lushly textured and drinking well now.
90 Georges Duboeuf 2002 Prestige (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. Perhaps a touch more powerful and concentrated than the 2002 Fût de Chêne, but otherwise very similar. Drinking well now, but can hold another five years or more. Tasted out of magnum.
88 Georges Duboeuf 2001 Prestige (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. With its lifted, vaguely floral quality and hint of volatility, this is bordering on overripe. Soft tannins give it a lush, velvety mouthfeel. Tasted out of magnum. Drink now.
90 Georges Duboeuf 2000 Fût de Chêne (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. Smoky, meaty and oaky on the nose, its black-cherry fruit is lushly textured on the palate where the oak is less apparent.
90 Georges Duboeuf 2000 Prestige (Moulin-à-Vent); NA. There's a delicate smokiness to this wine, along with elegant vanilla and oak shadings. The fruit is still very fresh—almost crunchy black cherries and plums. Drink or hold.
87 Georges Duboeuf 1999 Flower Label (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. Pungently earthy and smoky, this is seems to be in a bit of an adolescent funk, caught between its youthful fruit and mature spice-driven stages.
88 Georges Duboeuf 1998 Domaine de la Tour du Bief (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. Starts with hints of coffee and smoke, then adds ripe black cherry fruit. Doesn't have the lush texture of the best examples, but picks up lovely anise notes on the finish. Tasted out of magnum.
86 Georges Duboeuf 1996 Fût de Chêne (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. Seems to be tiring. Smoky, caramelized beet notes pick up gamy complexity on the elegant, lightweight finish.
89 Duboeuf 1995 Domaine des Rosiers (Moulin-à-Vent); $NA. The fruit here has faded to only modest proportions, but it's been replaced by layers of intense cinnamon, clove and earth flavors. Picks up nuances of rock dust pon the prolonged, smoky finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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