As I wrote Winesipper this week, I was sitting at a table seat on the Evergreen State ferry that runs from Orcas Island to San Juan Island north of Puget Sound in Washington. We were headed for an intermediate stop at Lopez Island, which has both vineyards and a winery, but more about that next week. With the temperature hovering around 65 degrees, it was hard to think about warm weather reds, but Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape, is a great choice for summer. With its soft fruit and light tannins it works nicely when lightly chilled—just the thing when the heat wave is on. Here are the panel's top Beaujolais picks:

2006 Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais-Villages, $12.99

This property located between Macon and Lyon France dates back to 1850 and has been bequeathed from father to son for five generations. The unfiltered Beaujolais opens with beautiful dark cherry aromas highlighted by smooth hints of mineral, mint and soft sea breeze. Big rich berry fruit, laced with mocha colors the palate in this well-structured, nicely balanced wine. The creamy fruit finish lingers on and on with a light bit of pepper at the end.

2006 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages, $10.99

Burgundy negociant and vineyard owner Drouhin is best known for its pinot noirs from both Oregon and France, but it also makes a number of top cru Beaujolais. This village wine offers exceptional value with its nicely perfumed cherry aromas backed by toast, earth and almonds. It shows impeccable balance on the palate with crisp acidity playing against ripe cherry and soft plum fruit with good persistence and length on the supple finish.

2006 Pierre-Marie Chermette Beaujolais Cuvee Traditionnelle, $13.99

Chermette makes wine the old-fashioned way, pruning heavily in the vineyard to reduce yields and increase ripeness, while fermenting with native yeasts that are on the grapes. This non-filtered, old-vine Beaujolais shows the result with its bright fruit aromas of ripe raspberry, cherry and strawberry along with touches of sweet rhubarb and rose petal. There's ample acidity on the palate, which seems typical of the vintage. The red fruit flavors are supple but delicate, and the finish is long and smooth. All three wines would be at their best when paired with simple summer fare.

This Week's Panel: David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Michael Molinengo, Idaho Wine Merchant; Wood McWilliams, Culinary Institute of America graduate; Leslie Young, Boise Co-op Wine Shop

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