With an extra day in the calendar this year, it seemed the most sensible thing to do was to have a wine dinner! On February 29, we hosted a Moulin-à-Vent dinner at the exclusive Private Member’s Club, Home House, located in Marylebone.
Edouard Parinet, of Château du Moulin-à-Vent, and Thibault Liger-Belair, of Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair, joined forces to present their wines and share their insights into the finest cru of Beaujolais. It was an intimate dinner for 30 guests at the beautiful Home House private members club, where Edouard and Thibault delivered a masterclass on this fascinating yet scandalously underrated region.
Beaujolais has undergone massive changes over the past 15 years or so, and the cru of Moulin-à-Vent has been at the front of this revolution. Those who remember the old days and the craze of being the first to drink Beaujolais Noveau, can be forgiven for thinking the wines to be thin and uninspiring. However, today, these wines are competing both in complexity and quality, with their neighbours from the Côte d’Or. Such is the case that Thibault, who's winery is actually located in Nuits-St-Georges, made the decision to invest in the region almost 10 years ago. His belief in the quality of the terroir being that strong.
Our evening started with a fascinating talk from both men, covering the history and philosophy of Moulin-à-Vent from their own perspectives. During which we enjoyed two wonderful wines of Château du Moulin-à-Vent with baked ruby and golden beetroot, goats curd, crushed hazelnuts and enoki mushrooms. The 2011 Croix des Vérillats showed lovely floral aromas with ripe cherry fruits and undertones of roasted meats and herbs. With only 300 cases of this wine produced, Edouard has certainly created a wine that will age gracefully. The 2011 Champ de Cour was a fantastic contrast to the first wine, with deeper, denser fruits and a more powerful structure to the wine. The complexity of both meant they could easily be mistaken for something serious from the Côte de Nuits.
Moving onto the second course of confit pork belly, truffled jerusalem artichoke mash, star anise and honey jus, we enjoyed cuvées from Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair. We started with the 2013 Cuvée ‘Les Rouchaux’. Although young and still quite fruit driven, I could see the undertones of earth and smoky minerality just peeking through, which will become more evident given a little time. The 2011 Cuvée ‘les Vieilles Vignes’ comes from vines over 65 years of age. This wine was showing intense black berry fruits with a touch of oak, embracing the structure of the wine.
The fillet of venison, bourguignon sauce and buttered curly kale brought us back to the wines from Château du Moulin-à-Vent. The 2012 Cuvée ‘Château du Moulin-à-Vent’ was youthful and pretty, with cranberry and raspberry fruits finishing with a crisp, refreshing style. The 2009 Cuvée ‘Clos de Londres’ really showed the intensity and ripeness of the vintage. Although still in the red fruit spectrums, there was an additional layer to the wine, with ripe tannins and supple structure.
We finished off the evening with a cheese soufflé and the 2011 Cuvée ‘les Vignes Centenaires’ and 2009 Cuvée ‘la Roche’ from Liger-Belair. The 2011 comes from parcels that were planted in the late 1800s! This wine can easily compete with any 1er Cru from the Côte d’Or, it was absolutely astonishing. The 2009 was Thibault’s first vintage in the region and the wine was showing intense minerality and complexity. It was a classic example of the top quality of both Moulin-à-Vent and Thibault’s ability to interpret the vineyard. This wine was made to last for at least another 10 years.
By the end, I think we were all seduced equally by the charm of the wines and our hosts. There are still great strides to be made in bringing Moulin-à-Vent to the fore, but Rome wasn't built in day. Though it may have been built a lot faster if Edouard and Thibault were leading the way.
Thank you to all the guests who attended the evening and a special thank you to Thibault and Edouard for introducing us to such top quality wines.