Jacky Janodet's Domaine les Fines Graves is the quintessential Grand Cru Beaujolais estate. This small but impressive 22-acre domain has earned Janodet the title of "The King of Grand Cru Beaujolais," and with good reason. Janodet and his wife make what most critics and connoisseurs consider to be the finest of all Beaujolais – Domaine les Fines Graves' Grand Cru Moulin-à-Vent. Perched atop the hill that crowns Beaujolais, Janodet's 50 year old vines sweep majestically down and around the slopes from the ancient windmill (Moulin-à-Vent means windmill) that crowns the hill's summit. The Moulin-à-Vent serves as the icon for all Grand Cru Beaujolais and offers the visitor an unparalleled vista of the Grand Cru villages and the surrounding countryside of Beaujolais.
Beaujolais is situated in the extreme south of Burgundy. It is a vast region of nearly two hundred villages and communes, which are spread out on varying subsoil and comprise many individual terroir. Unofficially, Beaujolais forms the dividing line between northern and southern France. Straddling the un-specified equivalent of the American Mason-Dixon Line, the wines of Beaujolais flow in copious quantities north to Paris and south to Lyon and beyond.
In spite of inherent variations in quality, which reflect the differences in soil composition, altitude, and level of production among the region's thousands of growers, one common denominator comes to fore in Beaujolais – the Gamay variety. Gamay provides the defining character and flavor of Beaujolais. Today, Gamay and Beaujolais are nearly synonymous even though the red wine of Beaujolais can be bottled legally as Burgundy, if it is made from Pinot Noir, and similarly the appellation's white wine is entitled to the Burgundy label when it is produced from Chardonnay. However, only miniscule amounts of the entire production of Beaujolais is bottled as Burgundy because of the unique quality of Gamay in the granite rock of Beaujolais and the unprecedented commercial success that Beaujolais has enjoyed since the Second World War. Gamay reigns supreme in this picturesque wine country, and nowhere is this truer than in the ten Grand Cru villages of Beaujolais, which constitute the best that Beaujolais has to offer.
Comprising the heart of Beaujolais, the ten Grand Cru villages offer the consumer the finest Gamay wine in the world. In addition, each township possesses a special terroir and individual set of characteristics that make for memorable drinking. In order of ascending prestige, fullness of body, and the proven ability to age, the Grand Cru villages of Beaujolais are Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chiroubles, St. Amour, Fleurie, Regnie, Chenas, Morgon, Julienas, and Moulin-à-Vent. Moulin-à-Vent is typically the fullest and most Burgundy like of the wines of Beaujolais, enjoying a reputation for ageing up to five or more years in bottle with excellent results. Moulin-à-Vent is usually the most expensive wine of the appellation as well.