Jadot Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent 2004
Although I haven't visited the vineyards of Beaujolais for ten years now, I still have fond memories of my explorations and adventures there in 1997, particularly exploring the ten crus, the top villages which are crowded together (many of the road signs pointing from one town to the next deal in fractions of a kilometre) at the northern end of the region. One such cru is Moulin-a-Vent, naturally named for the windmill which dominates the village, and from these vineyards, and perhaps also from around Morgon, come some of the finest examples of Gamay that can be found.
Jadot, the négociant house best known for its work further north in the renowned Côte d'Or, owns an impressive portfolio of vines in Beaujolais too. This was augmented in 2000 with the purchase of Château des Jacques, an estate which they have revitalised, with the energising Guillaume de Castelnau the man responsible. Once a military man and of noble birth, Guillaume left the army and soon found himself managing a small domaine in Meursault before moving to Jadot. Here, he and his team set about making what seems to me to be a much more genuine style of Beaujolais than the confected, fruity and frequently inadequate wines which are sold each year as Nouveau. With the instigation of new trellising, manual harvesting, selection and then fermentation in steel using wild yeasts before transfer into oak, some of it new, and importantly avoiding carbonic maceration altogether, Castelnau fashions a deeper, more characterful, more structured, altogether more interesting, desirable and even ageworthy wine. Once vilified by his neighbours for these novel methods (which are of course common practice in so many other wine regions) Castelnau is now gaining the recognition he deserves.
On inspection the 2004 Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent from Jadot has quite a rich colour, but it is not overdone or opaque, merely dense and regal. Initially it is very fruit forward and simple on the nose, but this is a wine that certainly benefits from an hour or two of air contact, as it is after this period of time that the wine really begins to show why so many are warming to Castelnau's techniques in Beaujolais. The aromas intensify and morph into a deep, characterful, slightly wild array with notes of tobacco, liquorice and dark brooding fruit, with a very faint sliver of green earthiness behind. Then there are notes of coffee and nutty toffee, and an opulent honeyed, hot baked biscuits complexity which may be oak related. The palate has a lovely texture, first lean but then fleshing out a little to a rounded but firm composition, a little pepper, with dark fruits and still a lick of oak. Deliciously firm and dry, structured, outgoing but not overly flattering or easy. For Beaujolais it has a very serious disposition, and as I drank this in the cellar, whilst stacking away recent acquisitions, I thought to myself that this deep, earthy and complex wine seemed much more like a Pinot Noir from a little further north in Burgundy than a Gamay. With its soft tannins and composed nature it is totally ready to drink now, although it is sure to improve for a few years yet. Very good indeed. 17+/20 (6/8/07)