Gamay: The Perfect Holiday Red
Delightfully playful, yet at its best capable of impressive gravitas, Gamay is responsible for juicy, berry-packed wines from Beaujolais and parts of the Loire Valley. It’s also almost always associated with Holiday Fare. While it has received some criticism for its role in Beaujolais Nouveau—a decidedly young, charming and fruit-driven wine—the Gamay grape is very capable of producing serious wines. The variety is also widely planted in Savoie, Valle d’Aosta and Switzerland, and has recently found success on a small but growing scale in Oregon.
In its simplest form as Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine released just a couple of months after harvest, Gamay is fresh and full of cranberry and cherry candy flavors. But Gamay is capable of much more. The region of Beaujolais is divided into Villages and Crus, where granite-rich soils and conditions are perfect for Gamay. The Villages and Crus wines, given more time on the vine and in the winery, are capable of improving with age and offer dark blackberry or ripe cherry flavors with enticing aromas of baking spice, violets and dark wet earth.
~ Selections To Be Tasted ~
2018 Division Wine Co.
Nouveau Nouveau Gamay Noir
Yakima Valley, Washington
Owners of Division Kate and Tom moved to Beaujolais, more specifically the town of Julienas in the Cru Beaujolais, in the summer of 2009. Neither of them had much experience with Beaujolais wines, preferring like many enthusiasts the wines of Burgundy and the Northen Rhone. Things would change quickly and they learned of the many amazing vignerons hidden into the mountains of the Crus that were producing fantastic age worthy wines that rival the Burgundies they enjoyed so much. Flash forward to the vintage of 2011 and Tom and Kate made their much acclaimed and received 2011 Gamay Noir, an honest homage and interpretation of Cru Beaujolais from their favorites of Fleurie and Julienas. During the warm summer of 2012, an idea was born. With an earlier harvest, it was possible to make a young wine, a nouveau wine, something not seen to their knowledge in Oregon.
Sherlock’s Tasting Notes: Vibrant red fruits such as strawberries and currants on the palate and an intense perfume make this wine a perfect accompaniment for cheese, charcuterie and traditional holiday fare.
2017 Chateau Thivin
Cote de Brouilly
Chateau Thivin is located in the Cote de Brouilly, an ancient volcanic mound which juts unexpectedly from the Beaujeu Valley floor, about 30 miles north of Lyon.
In the heart of Cote de Brouilly, on the south-facing, crumbling granite slopes, Claude Geoffray at Chateau Thivin works twenty acres of vines. The vineyards are planted entirely to Gamay Noir a jus blanc, a variety of Gamay that is cultivated to stand free of wires and stakes, sturdily attached to the hillside by deep-seeking roots.
Robert Parker 93 Points: The 2017 Cote de Brouilly bursts from the glass with lovely aromas of blackberries, cassis, plums and potpourri. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, bright and juicy, with sweeter fruit than the 2016 rendition but a shared sense of crunchiness and vivacity. It was only bottled three weeks before I tasted it, but it was already showing very well.
2015 Domaine Dubost
Tracot ” La Ballofiere” Morgon
Domaine du Tracot has been owned by the Dubost family since 1902. Its origin was found in writings and traces on the main building. With his two sons, Corentin and Joffrey, Jean-Paul hopes that the 4th generation will continue the family tradition in providing wines that reflect their terroir, the culture of the vineyard and respecting the environment and soil.
Vinous 91 Points: A beautiful purple with iris and peony aromas on the nose along with ripe cherry, accompanied by spicy notes that develop into a powerful mouth feel and greedy tannins.
2015 Domaine Dubost
Tracot ” Climat Le Vivier” Fleurie
Wine Enthusiast 92 Points: There are some fine, dry tannins in this wine along the dark cherry fruit and acidity. It comes from a single vineyard part of the 61-acre estate of Jean-Paul Dubost. There is a ripe feeling here; drink this balanced wine now.
2017 Division Wine Co.
Gamay Noir “Cru” Methven Vineyard
Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon
Winemaker Notes: The 2017 Gamay “Cru” is classic Gamay and delicious. The Methven vineyard consistently demonstrates a strong terroir character of dark rock, like along the banks of a rocky stream and peppery strawberries – this year was no different. The 2017 Gamay Noirs were picked later than in previous years, and finished with low alcohol levels, giving a bright, lively, lighter colored Gamay with abundant old world charm mingling with Oregonian friendliness.