Burgundy Collectors Take Notice: Part II
2009 Jean-Paul Brun Moulin-à-Vent
The "King of Beaujolais" in the Grandeur of 2009
At my first stop in Beaujolais, 2009 was compared to the legendary vintages of 1947, 49 and 76.
My second visit was with Jean-Paul Brun. The understated Brun simply said: "This is the best quality I've ever seen... nearly perfect."
Across the board, Jean-Paul Brun has crafted a simply superb line-up in 2009: The wines are concentrated, structured, pure and precise.
The gem of the collection, however, is without a doubt the majestic Moulin-à-Vent. This is the wine that marries perfectly the greatest attributes of the vintage, the site and Brun's unique winemaking style. Even after a week of tasting the greatest wines from this seriously undervalued region, this bottle stayed with me.
Today we can offer Brun's 2009 Moulin-à-Vent at as low as $22.86 - at this price it's almost impossible not to concentrate on the value. But in a way, it's this myopic focus on "value" and "easy drinking" that keeps discussions of Beaujolais from truly engaging with the wines as incredible expressions of an incredibly diverse terroir.
It's time this changed.
So for a moment, forget value, forget the easy talk of easy wines, because the top Cru Beaujolais, especially in bigger vintages like 2009, are wines that walk a walk as confident and complex as many a vaunted 1er Cru from the Côte d'Or just a few kilometers north. Cru Beaujolais, though enjoyable young, will improve in the cellar for decades, especially in top vintages like 2009. In fact, these are wines that become evermore Pinot Noir-like in their elegance, in their nuance, soil-transparency and detail.
The manganese-rich soils of Moulin-à-Vent (MaV) have long produced wines considered the "Kings of Beaujolais," reds with a depth and power that is unparalleled. These are also, unsurprisingly, the longest aging wines of the Crus. While 09 is a stellar vintage for all of the Crus, MaV seems to have particularly benefited: the warm vintage seems to have added an extra dimension of complexity and breed to these wines. If Morgon has become famous for the brightness and purity of its fruit (not to mention the A-list winemakers that work the best parcels), Moulin-à-Vent is the sleeping lion... a sleeping lion that Brun has awoken in 2009.
Even in its (very) young state, Brun's Moulin-à-Vent shows great complexity, delivering vivid plum, blueberry and gently spiced cherry fruits backed by savory, almost meaty elements and notes of crushed stones. As stated, Moulin-à-Vent is most often the largest-proportioned of all Beaujolais' Crus, yet in Brun's hands the wine has much more than power, it is finely etched and finessed.
If this elegant mouthfeel is suggestive of the great reds of the Côte d'Or, the comparisons seem only more appropriate in the cellar. Brun in fact vinifies many of his wines using Burgundian methods instead of carbonic maceration, believing that he can produce wines of more concentration and fineness this way.
It's hard to argue with the results.
For us, it's clear that 2009 marks an important watershed for Beaujolais: This is a vintage that is being strongly collected both by the long-time fans and wine geeks, but also by top collectors of Burgundy and Champagne. Which makes sense: These are wines of terroir above all else.
We believe that cru Beaujolais has enormous potential, that its capable of greatness. With all the emphasis on the wine's simple pleasure, I was curious to hear what Brun, one of the region's most astute and best winemakers, had to say. During my tasting, I asked him if he believed that Beaujolais could be a great wine. Brun, with his characteristic understatement, simply said: "I believe it can."
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