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The Gamay Wine Grape:
The Grape of Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau

All about Beaujolais: from Beaujolais Nouveau to Beaujolais Villages and Cru Beaujolais

You may not have heard of the wine grape Gamay before - it's rarely if ever bottled under the varietal name - but we bet you've heard of Beaujolais, or maybe Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais is the region of France where Gamay hails from and is one of the only wine regions with an exclusive focus on this grape.

The History of Gamay

Gamay is an old cultivar that can be traced back to the 14th or 15th century. Not surprisingly, it is believed to have originated in the village also named Gamay in the Beaujolais area of France's famed Burgundy wine region. 

Qualities of the Gamay Grape

When you're a red wine grape from Burgundy, you live in constant comparison with Pinot Noir. In contrast, Gamay is a far easier red wine grape to grow, and it can also be grown in large quantities. When grown under fertile conditions where quantity is favored, quality predictably suffers, and this grape has gone through many periods of disfavor for this reason. When grown in more acidic soils that inhibit deep root production, the wines are vastly improved and can show true distinction.

Gamay Wine Characteristics

Body: light to medium
Tannins: light
Acidity: medium to high
Flavors: red fruit, particulary cherry and a distinctive, pleasant sour cherry notes

Regions Where Gamay is Grown

- France's Beaujolais region, where it is also made into the unique 'Beaujolais Nouveau', a fresh wine released just a couple of months after harvest and intended to be drunk quite young
- France's Loire Valley, where it is often blended with other red varieties such as Cabernet Franc
- In the Niagara winegrowing region of Canada
- In Oregon's Willamette Valley, where Pinot Noir is also frequently grown as in Burgundy

Gamay Fast Facts

- Bottled by varietal name (Gamay) outside of France, although not commonly grown in other countries
- Bottled by regional name in France: Beaujolais
- Villages of Beaujolais: Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié, Saint-Amour
- Famous Producers: Georges duBoeuf, Boisset, Louis Latour
- Very limited aging potential, best consumed within 1-3 years

Gamay Wine & Food Pairing

- Delicious paired with mild cheeses and light, tomato-based sauces; also chicken, squab, cornish hen, pork
- Easy Food and Wine pairings with Beaujolais:
     Grilled BBQ Pork Ribs with Spicy Jalapeno-Peanut Marinade
     Turkey Empanadas with Cranberry-Pineapple Salsa
      Cajun Turkey Dirty Rice

Here are some of our favorites:

2005 Domaine Pascal Granger Juliénas, Beaujolais
This Cru Beaujolais shows the varietal's classic sour cherry flavor with a lively tartness. ($16)

2008 Louis Latour Beaujolais-Villages, "Chameroy"
More ripe and suave than the Juliénas, this is sure to please almost any palate. ($10)

2010 Georges duBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau
From the classic house for Beaujolais Nouveau. Fruity and tart with notes of cherry. ($11)

Next Variety:
  Pinot Noir Wine Grape




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