Australian Gamay wine regional and flavour profile
RED | LIGHT BODY
Gamay taste and aromas
Flavours of crushed strawberries and raspberries, black cherries, as well as deep floral notes of lilac and violets. Other flavours associated with Gamay from France include cherries, banana, coconut, vanilla, rose and violet, and sometimes tar and toast.
Light body, soft tannins
Cellaring potential of Gamay
Gamay-based wines are typically light bodied and fruity when young, however if too young, it can be somewhat sour. Gamay wines with more body are able to be aged and can have the flavour of sour cherries, black pepper, and dried berry, as well as fresh-cut stone and chalk.
Facts about Gamay
- Although the Gamay grape itself has lots of tannins, Gamay wines are actually characterized by fairly low tannins. This is due to a step in the fermentation process, where grapes are left in a big vat underneath a protective blanket of CO2 to prevent them spoiling, and their own weight slowly squeezes out the juices. This gives the wines softer tannins, fruitier flavours and the characteristic pear drop and bubble gum flavours.
- Gamay is a very old grape, with indications that it has been in existence since as long ago as the 1400s.
- Gamay is the grape responsible for producing red Beaujolais, some of the most flavourful and fruity red wines in France.
- In France, 70 million litres of Gamay is produced each year in Beaujolais, and more than half of this is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau, which is a fruity, easy drinking wine released with a big celebration on the third Thursday after the grapes have been harvested. This is known as “Beaujolais day” and is well worth hanging around Burgundy to witness (and sample).
- Historically, this grape was grown more widely in France, and was particularly popular in the Burgundy region. At the end of the 14th century, the ruler of Burgundy, Philip the Bold, passed a decree that it no longer be grown in Burgundy, and all the existing Gamay vines were uprooted. He was worried that the grape was beginning to compete with his chosen grape, Pinot Noir, and determined that this not be allowed to happen.
Australian regions that produce Gamay
Gamay is an early ripening grape that grows well in cool climates, however is fairly versatile, given its plantings in Australia span across a broad range of climates. Gamay can be found in the cool climates of Tasmania, the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, to the warm/hot climates of Hunter Valley and Granite Belt in Queensland.
Internationally, Gamay has a significant presence in the Beaujolais region of France, where it is known as Beaujolais Noir. Historically it has also been a major grape grown in Burgundy, until the 14th century when many of the Gamay vines were uprooted.
Other regions include France’s Loire Valley, where it is often blended with other red varieties such as Cabernet Franc, and the variety is also grown in New World regions such as Canada in the Niagara winegrowing region of Canada and in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
What food to pair with Gamay
As with many light red wines, Gamay pairs well with foods such as chicken, turkey or veal. Gamay’s low tannins and high acids makes it an ideal red wine partner with fish such as grilled salmon, and can be an excellent contrast to foods that are oily, fatty, or high in salt, such as roast pork or chicken, braised beef or chicken stew.