Known locally as the ‘King of Beaujolais’ for its power, structure and longevity, Moulin-à-Vent is actually atypical of the Beaujolais Crus; its style is the antithesis of what most people think of when they think of Beaujolais wines, and when fully mature (often at 10 years old or more) it resembles more a fine Burgundy, or even a Rhône, than Beaujolais. Named after the local windmill (which translates as moulin-à-vent in French,) Moulin-à-Vent is a real vindication of the principle of ‘terroir’.
Barbet Domaine Des BillardsView all from Barbet Domaine Des Billards
Situated at the mid-point of the sloping vineyards of Saint Amour, the Domaine des Billards belongs to the Barbet and Teissier families. This domaine has a long and storied history: an ancient parchment order book still in the family's possession shows a number of prestigious customers in Paris in the 18th Century, among them a sale , in 1774, of 10 barrels to Marquis Turgot, Louis XVI's Finance Minister. Today, they produce around 6,000 cases annually from their 5.26 hectares.
The soil is composed of sandstone pebbles underlying granite outcroppings at a depth of 50cm to 1 meter and beneath that, layers of clay. Farming is very traditional and natural, with no use of herbicides. The soil is regularly ploughed to develop the biodiversity: the Domaine des Billards is today a paradise for worms and beetles!
The traditional winemaking process lasts between 12 to 15 days and the use of a weighted grill to keep the "crust" submerged in the fermenting juices leads to a more effective extraction of tannins.