Gamay: The Precocious

Learn About Gamay

Your formal name is Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc, or Black Gamay with White Juice. Some have confused your varietal, Beaujolais, as a grape of that wine. But nothing could be more misconstrued. For you, Gamay, are Beaujolais! Fruit forward and very light-bodied, you are candy sweetness in a bottle. And every third Thursday in November, the first of your early harvested grape is bottled and shipped out at midnight to every corner of the world as Beaujolais Nouveau.

Allowed to mature, Gamay, you possess Pinot Noir-like characters with rich, deep, earthy aromas while maintaining your fruity flavors. But most of your red wine is less concentrated and effortless to drink.

Floral in nature, you are described as such for your heavy perfume aromas. You are to be handled with care, Gamay, being somewhat delicate and have zero ability for aging. A summer red if ever there was one, you are perfect for those heavy balmy nights when chilled. This is due to your slight pigmentation and unrecognizable tannins. Banana and bubblegum yumminess is your most noted characteristic.

But that’s not to suggest you are totally frail, Gamay. You can be very earthy when you want and sometimes may have a little spice to your temperament. You will always be a light-bodied red wine, however; but your crisp acidity and profuse fruitiness echo of a refreshing red wine bursting of black cherries.

You are prolific in the vineyard and granite soil is where you excel. But you don’t mind chalk or sand even, though you lose some of your fruitiness to these areas. Your frailty also makes you susceptible to trace elements of varying soils and is apparent in your inconsistencies from vineyard to vineyard in the Beaujolais region.

You are unique, Gamay, in that you do not undergo alcoholic fermentation like other Vitis vinfera. You prefer whole berry or cluster fermenting (called carbonic maceration) which breaks down your sugar into alcohol without yeast or a very slight addition of it to achieve dryness. While carbonic maceration makes you lower in alcohol, lower in tannins and lighter in pigment, the benefit to this is that you are readily drinkable at bottling. And around the end of November, Gamay, you are the most celebrated wine in France and most recently, around the world.

Varietal Styles

    The Usual Suspect
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Red Fruits
  • Delicate
  • Light-Bodied
  • Floral, Perfumed
  • High Acidity
  • Best Young and Chilled
    Pinot Noir-like
  • Ripe Fruit
  • Black Fruits
  • Deep, Rich
  • Earthy
  • Spicy
  • Supple, Soft
  • Slight Age-ability

Grape Styles
Cranberry | Raspberry | Banana | Orange Peel | Strawberry | Cherry | Lily of the Valley | Iris | Rose | Violets

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