It has been a while since I have written a follow up to GOTN. I have been slacking on what is expected of me so I will attempt to get back into your good graces. The GOTN on 10 September 2012 was to showcase a wine that is not normally selected or drank. The wine varietal was Gamay Beaujolais. The Gamay noir grape is a clone of the pinot noir grape crossed with Gouais. Gamay grapes were originally grown in Burgundy France where they were believed to have been introduced by the Romans. The presence of the Gamay grape within the Burgundy region caused an uproar among the Burgundy purists. Philippe the Good, banned Gamay Beaujolais from Burgundy because “The Dukes of Burgundy are known as the lords of the best wines in Christendom. We will maintain our reputation”. Beaujolais grape growers then relocated to Beaujolais which is north west of Lyons. This region grows only this varietal. The soil is granite based but the terroir was well suited for this grape varietal and it thrived.
Gamay Beaujolais of the past did not label their bottles as Gamay Beaujolais. The rule of thumb was to place only the region that the bottle came from without adding Gamay. This is now being changed slowly according to Inter Beaujolais general manager Jean Bourjade. There is a move to feature Gamay on the labels of Beaujolais and Beaujolais Village wines. The best villages in the region including the famous ‘Cru’ Beaujolais are as follows:
· Brouilly and Cote de Brouilly
Gamay Beaujolais AOC requires that the alcohol content to be above 10-10.5% ABV. To do this the vintner use a process called chaptalization or adding sugar to the grape must to increase the alcohol level content if required. This has been controversial as Beaujolais winemakers are striving to make higher quality wines and increasing the alcohol affects the body and balance of the wine. Many Gamay Beaujolais wines can have up to 13-13.5%.
A unique process used by Gamay Beaujolais wine makers to acquire lighter wine with fruity aromatics is a process called carbonic maceration. This process involves placing whole grapes (uncrushed) into the fermenter and adding carbon dioxide to remove the oxygen. As the carbon dioxide gas pressure builds due to fermentation within the grape plus the weight of the grapes on top, they burst. Wines produced using this technique are lighter and are have a fruitier aroma, compared to red wines made the usual way of crushing the grapes then fermenting.
Gamay Beaujolais wines are high in acidity and was noted in all of the examples brought by the group. This wine would go great with creamy cheeses and meat that has a lot of fat due to this high acidity.
Beaujolais cru wines today are being produced more in the way of traditional red burgundy wines. Trying to go back to their traditional roots, the grapes are fermented in open wooden vats and aged in oak barrels. These new Beaujolais wines are deeper in color and more tannic. The added tannins will allow one to cellar these wines which was impossible with the Beaujolais wines of the past.
The wines that were provided by the group and tasted are as follows:
· 2009 Domaine De Collette Cru Morgan
Taste: Cherry, light, creamy with light acidity
· 2009 Moulin a Vent Cru Le Trois Roches Pierre-Marie Chermette
Aroma: Mineral (granite)
Taste: Red berry back ground, mineral and acidic
· 2010 Louis Jadot
Aroma: No nose
Taste: Light bright cherry, tart, light and high acidity
· 2009 Domaine Mont Chavy Cru Morgan
Aroma: Light barnyard and black licorice
Taste: Delicate, mineral finish and acidic
· 2009 Macon Rouge Cru Regnard
Aroma: No nose
Taste: Cherry, light vanilla and light acidity
· 2009 Saint-Lager Cru Brouilly Recolte Christean Vergier
Taste: Earthy and acidic
Based on the groups comments it is evident that Gamay Beaujolais wines are notoriously acidic. Structurally they are light (some more than others) and many reflect an old world profile. Many that were in attendance were surprised at what some of these wines offered at such a low cost. Many of these wines were well under $20 except for one. This was truly a great night and a tremendous learning experience about a wine that very few people will pick up or try.
I would again like to thank the Valencia Wine Company and Guy Lelarge sponsoring our group with special thanks to Geno for always making sure that we had everything we needed to make our evening special.