Gamay, as a grape is grown in quite a few places round the world to some decent success, but it is the most famous son of the Beaujolais region. It’s what the majority of the red wines in the region are made from.
France in general is a geologist’s nirvana, and it’s all the different soil types knocking around that make the wine from each region arguably some of the best examples anywhere in the world. I did say arguably. In the rolling hills of the Beaujolais region it’s all granite soils which, after years of trial and error, they found to be to Gamay what Bacardi Breezers are to UK lasses. The perfect match.
Gamay itself gives light and fruity wines (raspberry and cherry) that are usually pretty low in tannins (the mouth drying pigments that come out of grape skins). The low tannins tend to mean they’re pretty light bodied too. All in all it actually makes great wines to be drunk slightly chilled for lunch, no matter where it’s from.
Last thing to talk about is something called carbonic maceration. Now be brave here, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Basically one of the points of difference of Gamay is that it’s low in tannin. Well this technique reduces the tannin further.
Instead of crushing the grapes and then fermenting, the grapes (fresh and unsplit) are placed in a sealed tank and carbon dioxide is pumped in. The grapes ferment internally without splitting (in theory) extracting the same colour, but a lot less tannin from the skins. It’s then pressed. It’s a very popular way of dealing with lighter red grape varieties, including Gamay.
The wines of Gamay tend to be light in body, fruity, and great with lunch. Not sure how productive the afternoons are going to be though!
Other posts in NWTW Week 11: