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Gamay grapes

Gamay is the primary black grape variety of France’s Beaujolais region, which is well-known for making the light, fruity red wines.

The Beaujolais region, known for making quick fermenting, young wines which are spared from aging, typically presents a fresh, fruity and a tangy tannin flavoured wine.

These wines tend to have a lot of candid aromas along with having a body weight and texture which is light but complex.

History of Gamay

Gamay grape is actually a cross between Pinot Blanc and ancient, obscure and an almost extinct variety of grape called Gouais Blanc, which was brought to Bourgogne from Croatia by the then Roman emperor Probus.

This gape is a sibling to Chardonnay grape which also has the same parentage. This grape was completely banned and the vines were asked to be torn out by Phillip the bold, who was the Duke of Burgundy in 1395, to ensure it does not compete with the favourite Pinot Noir. Because of this, the Grape variant almost got eradicated, only to find a new home in the south of Beaujolais.

Characteristics of Gamay Grapes

Though Gamay which is also known as Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc grape can grow in any type of soil, it most favourably grows in soils having a lot of limestone and granite.

These grape varieties can be quite productive, giving out five to seven tons of fruit per acre. This heavy growth may reduce the quality of the fruit making it less fruity and aromatic, causing the growers to retort to crop thinning as a measure to control this tendency.

Gamay grapes usually tend to bud and flower early, with few sometimes sprouting additional buds later in the season. Despite the ripening of Gamay grapes which takes place say early to mid- season, both the clusters of grapes tend to produce juicy and large oval shaped berries which are relatively easy to pick and which have a thin, but a tough skin.

Gamay Regions

The most noted area for the production of Gamay is Beaujolais in France. Apart from Beaujolais, Gamay is also grown in parts of Switzerland where it is blended with the Pinot Noir.

The Gamay grape is also grown in countries like Italy, Canada and New Zealand, Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo.

Though the best grape variants grow in the cooler climes, this variety is also cultivated in the warmer climes of California in the United Sates.

Characteristics of wine made from Gamay Grapes

The wine made from Gamay grapes usually tends to have a light colour with a hue that is kind of more purple-blue than red. The wines made from Gamay are very fragrant, full of fruity and fresh, floral esters.

Gamay wines tend to be a little tart when young and they lose their aroma and flavour quickly, once they are blended with other grape wines, something similar to what happens with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Wines using Gamay grapes are usually made using a technique called as Carbonic Maceration, to increase the fruitiness of the wines. In this technique, the fruit is placed uncrushed and whole in the fermenting vessel.

When the fermentation begins, the individual grape berries tend to trap the forming carbon dioxide bubbles, until they are not able to hold them any further, causing the grape to burst. Due to this, the wine gets its bright colour and its fruity aroma accompanied with a slight tickle or petillance.

This technique also gives the wines its typical banana, candy or the bubblegum character due to the formation of easter called as isoamyl acetate.

Flavours and Aromas of Gamay Wine

Gamay Wines tend to give out a fruity flavour of Cherry, Raspberry and Strawberry along with flavours of Cotton candy, bubble gum and banana.

Apart from this, it also gives out floral flavours of Violet and Rose Petal. When aged, it tends to give out flavours of Vanilla and coconut.

Food pairings with Gamay

This wine goes really well with Cheeses like Neuchatel, Chèvre, Brie, Mimolette, Comté, Saint-Nectare, Brie with Pomegranate sauce, Swiss Raclette, Farmer’s Cheese, Swiss, Cream Cheese, Gruyere and Monterey Jack.

As far as herbs and spices are concerned, this wine tastes good with Fennel, Anise, Mustard, Horseradish, Green Cardamom, Caraway, Chive, Leek, Marjoram, Garlic, Shallot, Lavender, Sage, Bay Leaf, Dill, Pink Peppercorn, Clove, Mint, Chervil, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Allspice.

When it comes to vegetables, it can be paired with Spanakopita, Roasted Potatoes with Dill, Black Olive Tapenade, Roasted Eggplant, Onion Rings, Spinach Salad with Beets, Portabello Mushroom, Sunchoke, Apricot, Dried Cranberry, Red Quinoa, Capers, Walnuts, Pecans, Cranberry Sauce, Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash and Delicata Squash.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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