2009 Vincent Girardin Moulin-a-Vent Domaine de La Tour du Bief Clos de la Tour

Year: 2009
Appellation: Beaujolais
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 92
Wine Advocate: 88
Red Wine
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2011 WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100: #54

"Lush fruit flavors of blackberry and blueberry mix with a core of spice and dried herb notes in this fresh red, which is silky, with lightly chewy tannins, followed by lingering hints of dark chocolate and cardamom on the finish. Drink now through 2016." (WS)

"Lightly-cooked elderberry and blackberry vie with a faintly artichoke-like vegetal element in Girardin’s 2009 Moulin-a-Vent Clos de la Tour, which comes to the palate quite plush and pliable, if without much freshness or energy. Hints of metaphorically cooling herbal essences and cardamom offer interest, and there is a satisfying, relatively simple fruit persistence to this cru no doubt best enjoyed within the next couple of years.

Vincent Girardin acquired the Domaine de la Tour du Bief in time to exercise control over the vines during the 2010 ripening season. He inherited in tank and ancient foudres 2009 wine, a portion of which he moved to used barriques; and then elected to segregate into three bottlings just as in 2010, though given the more watchful vineyard regimen; selective picking; sorting that incorporates very new optical-scanning technology; not to mention radically different vinification and elevage that the 2010s underwent, it should come as no surprise that they are far superior to their 2009 counterparts. Alcohol levels alone tell part of the story: the 2010s weigh-in between 13.25% and 13.5% while the 2009s – despite coming from one of the ripest vintages in Beaujolais history – were picked at just under 13%. The new regimen includes de-stemming; essentially Burgundian vinification (“long, gentle, and with irrigation, not pigeage” says Girardin, and including – at least in 2010 – protracted malos); and maturation almost entirely in barriques of 1-3 years (a few barriques each year will be new; and a few foudres are also envisioned), though the 2010 results did not taste significantly woody. La Tour du Bief has a near monopole on the eponymous lieu-dit that surrounds this estate (source of the Clos de la Tour bottling), and whose granite is underlain with clay-rich limestone. The manganese-rich pink granite of high-up La Rochelle needs no introduction to any who love Moulin-a-Vent or have studied its history. And the estate’s oldest vines in this sector are combined with those of two further lieu dits – one, Les Verillats, Girardin likens to a marriage of Tour du Bief and La Rochelle – with vines up to 80 years in age, to arrive at the bottling known as La Bernadine. I tasted the 2010s, as yet un-racked, from a range of barrels, and Girardin did not anticipate bottling the wines before this winter. (The 2009s were bottled in January of this year.) I have for that reason restrained my enthusiasm when it comes to “awarding points” but suggest readers bear in mind the implication of a “+?” beside each score. Even on paper these 2010s are rather striking for their low pHs and this translates into a sense of energy, tart freshness, and invigoration I found compelling. Yet they don’t lack for purity of fruit or textural allure, indeed, Girardin’s aim to achieve refined tannins and a polished feel has already been deliciously realized. These are going to be exciting wines to follow!" (WA)

Winery Notes:
More round and fat, with less aggressive tannins. Meaty cassis fruit, some alcohol, black licorice, lot of granular, powdered tannins. Some black raspberry fruit, very tight minerals and a black fruit finish. 18.3/20

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