When it comes to naming elite grapes in France’s wine regions, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre steal the spotlight. Yet, Gamay, an unassuming grape particularly popular in Beaujolais, part of Burgundy’s southern flank, makes enjoyable, joyous wines, which may present the highlight of an informal get together like a BBQ, pario party or picnic.
In Burgundy, Gamay is a secondary red grape blended with Pinot Noir, in which case it is called passetoutgrain.
In most cases, Gamay wines should be consumed within a year or two of harvest, with the exception of Beaujolais Nouveau, but in Beaujolais the ten cru (Moulin-a-Vent, Chiroubles, Chenas, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Regnie, Fleurie, Julienas, Saint Amour, and Morgon) produce superior quality wines, which can be cellared for a few years becoming even more appealing and flavourful.
The buds and flowers of gamay are prone to spring frosts in Beaujolais, but can flourish further north, even int eh Loire, if and when the vineyard is judiciously selected.
in Beaujolais is used exclusively for red Beaujolais and comes in four distinct quality categories – Beaujolais nouveau, Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Village and Beaujolais cru 10 regions listed above).
As a wine, Gamay tends to be paler and bluer than most other red wines with relatively high acidity and simple but vivacious aromas of freshly picked red fruits, often overlaid by less subtle smells of bananas, boiled sweets and nail polish remover, a result of rapid, and high-oxygen input fermentation.
Outside of Beaujolais, Gamay is planted in Maconnais further north in Burgundy, Loire (Tourraine), Switzerland, the U S A (California), Canada (Ontario), Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia.
Cru Beaujolais wines cellar well, but not as long as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvedre, and even Pinot Noir.
Some winemakers illegally capitalize their Beaujolais to elevate alcohol content, which yields unbalanced wines. In hot, dry years, Gamay yields fine red wines that can be enjoyed shortly after bottling.
In Ontario Malivoire produces a fine Gamay, and in Beaujolais Villa Ponciago, Geoge Duboeuf, Joseph Drouhin, Jean Mommessin, Domaine de Colette, Laboure-Roi, Lois Jadot, Chateau de Pizay, Domaine de Bel Air, Potel-Aviron, Domaine Rochette, Marc Picard, Henry Fessy, Domaine de la Passion, Jean-Marc Bourgaud, Raoul Clerget, Jean Descobes Domaine Chardignon, Abarbanel, Château Thivin, and Louis Latour are only a few of the hundreds of producers. Those listed are known to produce powerful, refreshing, very enjoyable wines that can be paired with a multitude of foods.
One of the negociants who contributed a great deal to Beaujolais’ popularity world-wide is George Dubeouf, but five year ago it was convicted of fraud and fined for illegal blending practices. The company is still in business and sells its wines.
Some of the above companies are negociants who buy bulk wines and blend, or buy grapes and make wines, that is blended with their own production.