There are a handful of great cru Beaujolais on the market with a number of primarily Morgon and Moulin à Vent dominating the scene every year but there are so many great wines here amidst the ocean of ordinary to downright bad wines. And most of these aren't very well known to even the savviest wine collectors if only because there is so little produced in most cases that you're unlikely to find them outside of a handful of hip wine bars worldwide and, closer to home, a few specialist retail sources in the US. Alain Coudert's Clos de la Roilette is one of these and one of the truly great domaines in the region. He's also the only producer of Fleurie I prize this highly and if you know Yvon Metras' Fleurie (at 2-3x the price), I'm including that one.
The Clos de la Roilette occupies 9 hectares on the best hillside in Fleurie on the Moulin-à- Vent border in soils composed primarily of clay and manganese, unusual in Fleurie but the terroir that sets Moulin-à- Vent part from all the others . This was actually classified as Moulin-à-Vent until early last century which is why there's a horse on the label where the appellation is usually spelled out in bold block letters. When the authorities changed the appellation borders, the owner of the domaine at the time was furious at losing the coveted Moulin-à-Vent name and put a graphic of his racehorse, named Roilette of course, on the label and refused to use the name Fleurie anywhere on the label. To this day you have to look hard at the fine print to see it.
This unique geology contributes to the unusual richness of these wines. Where Fleurie is known for producing delicate, aromatic wines, the Roilette is dense, dark and structured to the point where you might think you're drinking a village level Pommard. While I do find these wines to be extraordinarily rich, especially for gamay, I'm struck by this wine's complexity and lovely pinot noir like nose. Beaujolais of any stripe isn't the first thought that crosses my mind when tasting these.
The 2015 Cuvée Tradition, from 40-50 year old vines, is another great 2015 which is a fantastic vintage in Beaujolais in general but particularly good here. This is gorgeous wine with a heady nose of woodsmoke, spice and dark fruits and a generous texture. Dense mineral and ripe red fruit flavors and a finish of pure minerality and subtle, fine grained tannins. Open now but in need of 5-10 years to develop. The Cuvée Tardive, from 90-100 year old wines is similar but deeper and a bit more complex. This is always a little smokier and just bit longer on the palate and really shows the difference in potential between young and old vine cuvées. This wine will age even longer and I've had a number of fantastic bottles at 20-30 years old. This is the first time I've been able to offer these in awhile and there isn't very much to go around.