Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to taste the 2006 Chateau de La Chaize Brouilly, one of the 10 Cru Beaujolais appellations. I looked forward to tasting it because in college, and for a few years afterwards, Chateau de La Chaize was my house wine; it was enjoyable and affordable at a $1.99 a bottle.

Like many wines that we start out with, I stumbled upon Chateau de La Chaize without knowing it was a French national monument built in 1676 by the Versailles architect Jules Mansart. Its gardens were designed by Le Notre, the landscape architect of Versailles. Nor did I know it was the largest vineyard of all the Cru Beaujolais wines. I just knew that I liked its cherry-strawberry flavor and medium-light body.

While Beaujolais is part of the Burgundy region, it differs from the red wines of the region’s famous Cote d’Or area. The most important difference is that it’s made with the Gamay grape and not the pinot noir of its noted northern neighbor. With few exceptions, Beaujolais wines are made for early consumption and immediate gratification. Gamay yields quaffable wine; pinot noir produces hedonistic wine.

The 2006 Chateau de La Chaize is made in stainless steel tanks and matured in large wood casks. It is straightforward winemaking that preserves Gamay’s natural fruit qualities without any new oak or winemaking manipulations. It has a bright black-cherry color, fragrant red fruit, and a mix of cranberry and strawberry flavors. The 2006 Chateau de La Chaize reflects Brouilly wines’ lighter texture and fresh acidity. It is a wine to serve slightly chilled, just what you want on a sunny summer day.

Many wine consumers think Beaujolais Nouveau is Beaujolais. Not so. That is just a 6-week-old creation arriving in November and gone by spring. The real McCoys are Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages, and the 10 Crus, including Brouilly. These are wines that you drink throughout the year with a classic dish of coq au vin, Lyon’s renowned sausages with Lyonnaise potatoes, and during summer with grilled hamburgers poolside or at the beach.

Place the 2006 Chateau de La Chaize in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and than serve it from a bucket of cold water (no ice), and its pleasant fruit flavors and acidity will cool the day. Maybe it’ll become your house wine, too.
The 2006 Chateau de La Chaise Brouilly retails for approximately $17.