by Fred McMillin
for October 22, 1998

 

Swing and Sway with Beaujolais


Prologue

The critics have long praised the Brouilly Beaujolais of Chateau de La Chaize...a Grand Cru:

Vintage 1975—"Lovely soft wine of delightful elegance. Long and silky finish. I have been fond of this estate-bottled La Chaise for several years."

...Robert Lawrence Balzer, Critic

Vintage 1995—"Smooth, well-integrated, harmonious tannins, nice balance of black cherry and licorice flavors, 30,000 cases."

...Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator


The Rest of the Story

Alright, it's a charming light red, but what does "Brouilly Grand Cru" mean? Let's let Prof. John Baxevanis explain it in his book on Beaujolais.

Here are the appellations.

  1. Beaujolais is the most basic appellation, with a minimum of 9% alcohol.
  2. Beaujolais Superieur requires 1% more alcohol.
  3. Beaujolais-Villages has same alcohol minimum as Superieur but comes from about 40 villages with better soil and microclimates.
  4. Beaujolais Grand Cru wines come from the ten most celebrated communes, with the best soil and locations. The area around Mount Brouilly (brew-yee) is one of the largest Grand Cru producers. La Chaize is the largest estate in the Brouilly district. It was completed in 1676 by the same architects that designed Versailles.


Beaujolais FranceThe Wine

1996 Brouilly, Grand Vin du Beaujolais
Chateau de La Chaize, France
Importer for many years—Seagram
Tasting Notes—More depth than just the simple light strawberry flavors of the basic Beaujolais.
Food Affinities—My wife took weekly cooking lessons from James Beard in NYC for eight years, eating what they prepared. With lightly-chilled Beaujolais he served at different times: a) oxtail ragout and Brie, b) lamb and rice with pine nuts, and c) chicken with Bearnaise sauce.
Contact—Angela Freire, (707) 255-7667
Price—$16


Postscript

The Gastronomic Scene When Chateau La Chaise Was Completed (1676)—Food in France was being taken quite seriously. A new dessert was the rave of Paris...ice cream! Camembert was described as a "very good cheese, well suited to aid digestion after a meal washed down with good wines." and the famous chef known as "Le Grand Vatel" took food so seriously that when his dinner didn't please King Louis XIV, the chef commited suicide!

Note: For more on La Chaize, see the Sept. 23,1997 WineDay titled "The Duke and the Gamay."


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 

 

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