There is something almost sinful in waking up at Château de la Chaize, watching French gardens designed by Le Nôtre from my window and thinking about our hostess, Caroline von Klitzing, who is working hard in the cellar to conclude the wine making season. And I enjoyed it immensely.
Château de la Chaize was designed by Mansart in 1674-1676 for Comte François de la Chaize, a nephew of Père de la Chaize, confessor of the Sun King, who gave his name to the famous cemetery of Père Lachaise. It is now, in Odenas, the largest producer of Brouilly wine in the Beaujolais region with 280 000 thousand bottles a year, on a hundred hectares (200 acres).
This beautiful estate, where, on clear days, you can see the Mont Blanc, has always passed through women to the next generation and Nicole de Roussy de Sales, who managed it vigorously for forty five years, has just handed the reins over to her daughter Caroline.
The classic Brouilly vintage is delicious with game and Lyon specialties of sausage and fromage de tête, and in recent years, a high quality Rosé has been developed. Old vines of Gamay, are used for a grander « Réserve de la Marquise » which compares to good Burgundy. I happened to visit the cellar, on the day that« Paradis » was being tasted. It is the very first juice at the beginning of fermentation, which only contains 5% alcohol. It felt like drinking a strong peach juice and we could have gone on all day !
The cellar, built in 1771, is the largest in Beaujolais, 108 m long with huge barrels. Numerous improvements are constantly made with the building of a modern storage, dug in the rock so it does not interfere with the listed buildings and new vines being planted regularly. Both cellars and gardens are open to the visit and it is well worth stopping there on your way from or to Lyon.
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