Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

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Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:05 am

“Oh my gosh, is it hot!”

I think that may be the most common thing I hear these days. It seems that nearly everywhere in the USA and Europe it is just plain hot this summer. The east coast is supposed to hit 100+ this week.

So what’s a wine enthusiast to do when the mercury rises and there’s some meat on the grill, or a cold chicken salad on the plate? Sure white wine will do, but why be forced to drink that pale stuff. There must be a red wine that can do the job and still be refreshing on a hot summer day.

Gamay to the rescue!

Gamay is one of those grapes that is not as well known as where it’s grown. Beaujolais is the home of Gamay, and with the exception of a few dedicated producers elsewhere, really the place where just about all the good stuff comes from. And we’re not talking about that Beaujolais Nouveau stuff that gets pushed on everyone at Thanksgiving. Real Beaujolais can be a complex beverage of fruit and earth as well as a refreshing quaff.

So this month in Wine Focus we turn our attention to Gamay. I’ve only recently become a convert to this underrated grape, thanks to some friends who have helped me to pick out a few good examples. Beaujolais from Jean Paul Brun, Chateau Thivin, Coudert and Louis Jadot have already come and gone this summer. There’s more to come, from producers like Breton, Bouchard and Lapierre.

In the new world I actually have a dirty secret that I had forgotten until putting fingers to keyboard. Beringer’s Gamay Beaujolais (not actually made from Gamay, or at least not back then) was one of the first wines I ever bought.

Getting back to actual Gamay, there are some good new world producers. Our very own WLDG-er Steve Edmunds makes his Bone-Jolly. It’s very good, and true to its grape and place (El Dorado County), as all of Steve’s wines are. Up in Canada there’s Chateau des Charmes of Ontario that makes a lovely Gamay also with varietal appeal.

Oh and one other thing: Gamay tends to be inexpensive! So if you’re on a wine budget, or even if you’re not, you can take a trip to your favorite shop and hop on the Gamay bandwagon for very little money. So get hoppin’!

And about that heat…Gamay is great with a little chill on it. It’s even more refreshing.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:14 am

Great intro, David. I think this will be a very interesting month and I am looking forward to reading all the tasting notes. I have some `03s from Morgon and Julienas ready to go and Sandhill (BC) has a Gamay Noir here in town. I hope some of the California and East Coast wines will get a review.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Howie Hart » Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:17 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Up in Canada there’s Chateau des Charmes of Ontario that makes a lovely Gamay also with varietal appeal.

As we learned during our winery tour at NiagaraCOOL '05, Chateau des Charmes has patented their own Gamay clone, called Gamay Droit. There are other producers of Gamay in the Niagara Peninsula, and even grapes available for home winemakers, like me. :) The grape seems to do well in the area and makes me wonder why it isn't grown more in the Finger Lakes.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:19 pm

Howie Hart wrote:Chateau des Charmes has patented their own Gamay clone, called Gamay Droit.


So I guess they have planted the right stuff?
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Hoke » Mon Jul 31, 2006 2:08 pm

Good precis/intro on Gamay, David.

I'd like to add a little historical note as well.

There was a time in Burgundy when Gamay seriously threatened Pinot Noir.

Yep, it's true. Pinot Noir established itself during the Middle Ages as THE grape of Burgundy (although it wasn't known as Burgundy during that time, but Beaune. Back then if you said "Burgundy", you probably meant Chablis).

The growers, attracted to Gamay because it was very popular with the English and other well-heeled wine drinkers, and somewhat easier to grow and make wine from as against the fickle Pinot Noir, started ripping out PN and replacing it with Gamay.

Problem got so pronounced that the Duke of Burgundy dictated that most of the Gamay had to be torn out and replanted with Pinot Noir. Which was a draconian move to the growers, as it took years to get back to productive status with the affected vineyards. Still, it only served to solidify the status of Pinot Noir (and not coincidentally, the ability to get the price for good PN), while at the same time ensuring that Beaujolais would eventually become the single premier growing area for Gamay.

Now the only remaining vestige in Burgundy of the 'days of Gamay' are the relatively rare, almost never exceptional, but almost always pleasing AOC of Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, which is a mandatory blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. It's not easy to find, especially in the US/Canada, but it is around, albeit haphazardly and in small quantities. And while it won't rock your world, it's worth trying out.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:48 pm

Years ago, I was in shock after tasting a Moulin-a-vent. I had never expected a Beaujolly to taste like this!! Now I hoard the frequent bottle to bring out on a warm summer evening.
However, my memory fails me so I am hoping that we can discuss the various ins-and-outs of the different crus? Is Julienas still underrated, is Fleurie a softer wine, is there any difference in the colour/how does terroir affect these wines? Lots of questions, David.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Lou Kessler » Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:08 pm

It's just a coincidence but I've chosen a 2004 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie by Coudert to serve with a simple dish of roasted game hen. It's in the high 70's here for the last few days, really nice. Last week was our turn to roast. We've tasted the wine before, not great but damn good. Imported by Louis Dressner.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:44 am

Hoke wrote:Now the only remaining vestige in Burgundy of the 'days of Gamay' are the relatively rare, almost never exceptional, but almost always pleasing AOC of Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, which is a mandatory blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. It's not easy to find, especially in the US/Canada, but it is around, albeit haphazardly and in small quantities. And while it won't rock your world, it's worth trying out.


One to look for is by Chevillon. Good stuff, and it is somewhat reasonably available.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Paul B. » Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:43 pm

The problem I've always had with Gamay is that I never seem to find any that will "wow" me - they tend to always be bland and without character. I'm sure there is some really fine, redolent Beaujolais out there, but far be it from me to know which ones those are. I have not been impressed with any of the ordinary Gamays grown in Ontario; Chateau des Charmes' Gamay Droit - an altogether different clone that tastes much like Syrah to me - is another story entirely.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:35 pm

I was gonna ask you Paul B if there was a chance you might possibly be able to post some notes on that one? Also do we find Gamay on the east coast?
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:43 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:I was gonna ask you Paul B if there was a chance you might possibly be able to post some notes on that one? Also do we find Gamay on the east coast?


Bob, I'm not Paul B, but I've had this wine twice, once at the winery during NiagaraCool 2004, and again last autumn when we opened the bottle that I brought home from the winery to help you guys celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. :)

I'll post a copy as a new thread. The wine's a year older now, but should still be drinking very well.
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Re: Gamay, Gamay, Gamay! (short, introductory and defiantly non-spoofulated)

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:54 pm

Great, that was fast!! Thanks.

BTW Robin, when did we do that Malbec tasting on the old WT 101? Is the archive list still around somewhere. Looks like a Malbec discussion is in the works!!!!
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