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Moulin-à-Vent is arguably the most noteworthy of the ten Beaujolais crus, located in the very north of the Beaujolais region. Moulin-à-Vent wines, made from the Gamay grape variety, are known for being some of the most concentrated and tannic made in Beaujolais, a far cry from the light, simple Beaujolais Nouveau wines. Floral and fruit-driven in youth, these wines often develop spicy, earthy characteristics as they age.

The vineyard area of Moulin-à-Vent stretches across both the Rhône and Saône-et-Loire departments on the western side of the Saône River. The borders of the appellation touch those of Fleurie in the south, and the vineyards of Chénas are directly north. In fact, the official boundaries of Moulin-à-Vent cover land in the administrative commune of Chénas, and the vineyards surrounding the town of Chénas itself fall under the Moulin-à-Vent appellation.

The most distinctive feature of the terroir here is the pink granite soils, which are shot through with veins of manganese. This mineral – which is not found in quantity in the other Beaujolais crus – is toxic to grapevines and retards growth of both leafy vegetation and grape bunches. As a result, a smaller yield of highly concentrated grapes are produced by the vines, leading to deeper, more intensely flavoured wines than are produced in other parts of Beaujolais. It is this concentration that lends Moulin-à-Vent wines ageability, and the best examples can be cellared for ten years and longer.

The vineyards of Moulin-à-Vent lie on the south and southeast-facing slopes of the Beaujolais hills, where they are protected from harsh continental weather systems from the northwest. Instead, the region's high sunlight hours and gentle cooling influences from the Mediterranean Sea in the south help to maximise the ripening period, leading to grapes with a good balance of flavour and acidity.

This part of Beaujolais has been under vine for hundreds of years; the most important vineyard developments were undertaken by rich Lyonnais in the 15th century. The boundaries of the area were officially delimited in 1924, and AOC status was granted in 1936. The name of the appellation refers to the iconic moulin-à-vent (French for "windmill"), which enjoys a prominent position on the hill overlooking the vineyards.