What is Gamay wine like?
Well… It is often seen as a cheap and cheerful grape variety. But it is now starting to produce some real serious wines. Today, the best examples compete with their Burgundian cousins made from Pinot Noir.
Gamay is a grape variety that is originally from the Burgundy region of France. It is a crossing between Pinot Noir and Gouais a white grape variety.
Gamay used to be very much present in Burgundy, but it became outlawed in 1395. Philippe le Hardi (Duke of Burgundy) saw Gamay as a lesser grape variety than cousin Pinot Noir. He decided to ban it throughout Burgundy.
As a result, the grape variety saw itself pushed South, to the Beaujolais region, where, still today, it is the main grape variety.
Gamay used to be renown for being diluted and uninteresting. This is due to the vines being very productive. But things are changing as producers are focusing on quality, both in the vineyard and in the wine making.
Gamay wine is typically light coloured and light in terms of both tannin and alcohol.
On the nose, expect notes of red fruit (think raspberry and strawberry) and fresh black fruit (blackberry and cherry). You may also find subtle floral aromas and at times some earthy notes can
This is a style of wine which hasn’t been in fashion of late, as many consumers prefer deep, rich, intense wines.
But, if you enjoy light delicate wines then Gamay is a go to grape variety.
The high acidity and low tannin make the wines particularly well suited to fish, especially in acidity dominated dishes.
In the Beaujolais region, Gamay is often enjoyed with charcuterie such as salamis, and patés.
The low taste intensity can also make them a fantastic partner to poultry dishes. A big favourite: Thanksgiving Turkey with Cranberry!!
What are the best regions for Gamay?
The first one definitely has to be the Beaujolais region of France. Beaujolais has 10 village appellations which all produce fantastic wines: Fleurie, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Regnié, Moulin à Vent, St Amour, Morgon, Chiroubles, Chénas and Julienas.
Also in France, the Loire Region has some great Gamay wines such as Cheverny, Coteaux du Vendomois and Vin de Pays du Val de Loire.
Outside France Gamay hasn’t had much success, but there are a few good examples in Switzerland, Oregon and Australia.
If you enjoy Gamay, the first variety you should go to is definitely Pinot Noir.
Alternatively, a bit more off the beaten track would be Cinsault. Unoaked Cinsault can also be very much fresh, with crunchy fruity notes without being deep or concentrated.
Another unusual choice would be Zweigelt which is slightly richer, but the wines are often also delightfully fruity!