Winemakers champion aged Beaujolais

Two winemakers from Moulin-á-Vent AC are shining a light on aged Beaujolais, a wine typically consumed young, believing that its potential has been overlooked.

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Thibault Liger-Belair of Domaine Liger-Belair

Located in the north of Beaujolais, Moulin-á-Vent is one of the region’s 10 crus and was among the first to be given AOC status in 1936, alongside Burgundian AOC’s of Pouilly-Fuissé and Beaune.

Producing wines from Gamay, Moulin-á-Vent is known for producing the most powerful and full-bodied wines of Beaujolais’s 10 crus. However the Beaujolais region as a whole has become more well-known for Beaujolais nouveau, carbonic maceration and subsequently light, fruity reds that are low in tannins and best drunk young. Few associate the region with wines that have the ability to age. However two winemakers are making an effort to showcase the region’s diversity and its ability to produce wines that can age – in some cases by up to 62 years.

At a tasting hosted by Flint Wines dedicated to exploring Moulin-á-Vent’s terroir, Thibault Liger-Belair of Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair, and Edouard Parinet of Chateau du Moulin-á-Vent, presented a vertical tasting of their wines dating back to 2009.

Liger-Belair’s family has been cultivating vines in Burgundy since the 1700s, with Liger-Belair founding Domaine Liger-Belair in Nuit Saint Georges in Burgundy in 2001, making use of his families historic vineyards. In 2008 he bought a vineyard in Moulin-á-Vent, with its first vintage produced in 2009.

“My family had some vines in Beaujolais and I was really surprised when I saw the price list from the 1911 harvest”, explains Liger-Belair. “You have Moulin-á-Vent and Thorins, but when you see the price of Vosne-Romanée’s Clos De Reas it was the same price as Moulin-á-Vent. It was not a big difference, and now we have a big difference. It’s one of the reasons that I decided to go into Beaujolais, to try and understand why that is. The idea was to produce a classic Beaujolais that shows its terroir.”

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Edouard Parinet of Chateau du Moulin-á-Vent

Highlighting the region’s ability to produce wines that age, Liger-Belair explained that many of the region’s vines are “over 100 years old, but a lot of people don’t know that”.

“A big asset is that they are definitely very nice to be drunk very young”, explains Parient. “Even the 2014s, they are not ready but they are not impossible to drink. This is a big asset for Gamay. But we still produce wines that able to age. We are not talking about 20 to 30 years, but hopefully after tasting these wines you will see the potential after only five years in the bottle.”

Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair’s Moulin-á-Vent Les Vignes Centenaires is only made in the best vintages, with just 450 magnums produced. This wine, according to Liger-Belair, should be kept for at least 10 years before drinking.

While not from Moulin-á-Vent, Liger-Belair, rather daringly, showcased a 1954 Fleurie, which, despite its advancing years, was surprisingly fresh displaying iron-like mineral notes.

“For me it is still very energetic”, said Liger-Belair. “It’s better on the nose than on the palate.”

Parinet of Chateau du Moulin-á-Vent meanwhile presented its 1995 Cuveé Exceptionelle. Commenting on the future of Beaujolais Liger-Belair is confident that the region can compete on quality, but that people’s perception of the region have to change.

“Now, people know a lot more about Rhône Valley, Burgundy and Pinot Noir so try to find some similarities with Beaujolais”, said Liger-Belair. “In the future I hope they will say ‘it tastes like old Beaujolais’, [rather than Pinot]. It’s important to have the people behind it and to show that we can produce something different. When people taste [Beaujolais] I think they change their mind but they have to taste.”

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The tasting was hosted at newly opened wine members club 67 Pall Mall by Flint Wines

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