52 Weeks of Wine – Week 18: Gamay (February 23rd-March 1st 2019)

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If you were following along with the 52 Weeks of Wine at the start of the New Year, you may recall a feature of a wine called “Beaujolais”. Beaujolais refers the product region in France from which these wines originate. Many Old World wine production regions categorize their wines by the region that the wine originated (i.e. Bordeaux, St. Emilion, Penedes) which differs from American wines which we categorize by grape varietal. Beaujolais and specifically, Beaujolais Nouveau (the new vintage of Beaujolais released annually around the third Thursday in November), is typically the Gamay varietal, though often minimally blended with other varietals. This week, we are tasting the Gamay varietal, which by coincidence, is also a Beaujolais Nouveau. 

I anticipated from my tasting of Beaujolais that this Gamay would be very light bodied and fruit forward. However, the aspect I did not anticipate was the earthy tones in the flavor. Just pouring this wine into a glass was a beautiful surprise. The wine is a gorgeous, purplish-ruby in color and the thin traits of the viscosity allow light to travel through the wine as it is poured and in the glass. The smell is all cherry pie. But not the cheap cherry pie made from canned cherries and syrup. A true, homemade, cherry pie. As I mentioned, the taste was a surprise, but the more I thought of it, the taste really tied back to the cherries in the cherry pie. There was a woody, oak flavor comparable to the cherry pit. I noticed an earthy, soil taste from the cherry tree. Obviously, a subtlety of the cherry itself. Lastly, unrelated to the cherry, flavors of currant and mild pepper. This is not the fruit-forward wine that I expected, but it was a fascinating tasting experience that truly opened my eyes to the varietal. I was similarly surprised by the level of acidity. Acidity is often detected by the flood of water that fills your palate after taking a taste of wine – which was definitely prevalent in this wine. Overall, this was really a fantastic tasting experience. The attributes of this wine provide a very unique tasting experience to anyone developing their own wine palate. 

An exceptional feature of Beaujolais and Gamay is their “pairability” with a tremendous amount of food. Truly, there are no foods that will outright clash with Gamay. 

This wine is priced between $13-15 and I gave it a four out of five corks rating. 

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