19 things you didn’t know about Beaujolais and Gamay for Beaujolais Nouveau 2021

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With Beaujolais Nouveau still being hard to come by in Australia because of COVID-19, we thought it best to extend the Beaujolais Nouveau 2021 celebrations to all French wines made from Gamay grapes – think of it as Gamay Day.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2021 Gamay

BEAUJOLAIS THE REGION AND THE WINES

  1. Beaujolais is an AOC region in Eastern France to the North of Lyon and about 80km from the Swiss border. It is also the name given to wines that come from that region.

 

  1. The Beaujolais region has one of the highest vine density ratios of any major worldwide wine region. It is said to have between 9000 to 13,000 vines per hectare!

 

  1. 98% of the grape plantings in Beaujolais are Gamay grapes.

 

  1. The Beaujolais region was first cultivated by the Romans. They planted on the areas along their trading route up the first cultivated by the Romans who planted the areas along its trading route up the Saône Valley.

 

  1. Beaujolais wine-making is usually done via carbonic maceration a method that involves putting the whole grape cluster into cement or stainless-steel tanks.

 

  1. Wines produced through carbonic maceration have unique characteristics with aromas of Carbonic maceration produces unique characteristics, with aromas including banana, pear drop, and candied fruit among those present.

 

  1. Given the preference for whole bunches in Beaujolais wine making, grapes are harvested by hand, not by machine.

  1. Grapes used in Beaujolais Nouveau are usually harvested in late September.

 

  1. Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine made from gamay grapes which is bottled and sold within 6-8 weeks of the grapes being picked.

 

  1. To be called Beaujolais Nouveau, the wine needs to be made from Gamay grapes (a few other varietals are permitted but rarely used) and needs to come from the Beaujolais AOC. It also needs to be new/early release wine also known as a vin de primeur. A vin de primeur is a wine that the AOC Regulations allow to be sold in the same year the grapes were harvested.

 

  1. Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau are best drunk within the year of their harvest. These are drink now, not cellaring/ageing wines.
A vintage Beaujolais Nouveau poster
A vintage Beaujolais Nouveau poster

 

GAMAY

  1. The Gamay grapes which are used to make Beaujolais Nouveau are actually called Gamay Noir to distinguish from Gamay Blanc.

 

  1. Gamay Noir grapes are the result of a cross between Pinot and Heunisch Weiss (also known as Gouais blanc).

 

  1. Gamay grapes are a deep bluish-red colour – sometimes also referred to as being purple. They bring high acidity, moderate tannins, and light to medium body to wines.

Gamay grapes

  1. The typical aroma associated with Gamay grapes is that of red berries.

 

  1. Beaujolais Nouveau and Gamay should be served slightly chilled unlike other red wines. The ideal serving temperature is around 55°F (13°C).

 

WHERE IN THE WORLD

  1. Apart from the Beaujolais region, in France, Gamay grapes are also grown in the Loire Valley.

 

  1. Gamay is also found in New World wine making regions such as Australia, Canada’s Niagara Peninsula and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, USA .

 

  1. In Australia, Gamay grapes can be found in:
    1. Victoria in King Valley, Mornington Peninsula, in the North East and in the Yarra Valley;
    2. the Hunter Valley in New South Wales;
    3. the Adelaide Hills in South Australia;
    4. the Granite Belt in Queensland; and
    5. Southern Tasmania.

 

Gamay grapes drawing

GAMAY AND BEAUJOLAIS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU 2021

As always, we’ve asked French wine importers in Australia to share their Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais or Gamay recommendations. 

 

Bottli

Amélie from Bottli recommends the following a selection of Gamay from Domaine Lathuilière Gravallon, Beaujolais area. 

 

Cédric and his wife Cathy now lead the 5th generation of the family estate. A total of 15ha of vineyards in the North of Beaujolais are spread over many different plots, following the specifications of sustainable agriculture. Most of the work is done by hand and Cédric produces many Crus with style. Each is very different with their own personality to reflect the terroir they come from. 

 

For a small budget, Amélie recommends : Domaine Lathuilière Gravallon Gamay Pisse Vieille. 

This terroir gives us an intense and deep ruby colour, with aromas that are more fruity than floral, with a frank evocation of small red fruits, morello cherries, and even a few mineral notes that reflect the bouquet of the Gamay.

 

Cellaring: This wine, which offers finesse and joy, can be kept for 3 to 5 years.

Serving suggestion: Cold meat, sausages, chicken, stew, rabbit

 

For a higher budget, Amélie recommends Domaine Lathuilière Gravallon Gamay Vieilles Vignes Morgon

With a dark ruby colour, this wine reveals very pronounced red fruit aromas and gradually a woody final note that does not mask the fruitiness of Morgon. This robust wine matures with age and gives notes of pinot noir, it is then said to be “Morgonne”.

Cellaring: This wine can be kept for up to 10-12 years depending on the year. But it will be at its best between 3 and 8 years

Serving suggestion : Meat in sauce (Coq au vin), small goat cheese

 

Clos Cachet

Ashleigh from Clos Cachet recommends the Bel Air – Morgon “Les Charmes” 2019 – $45

 

Domaine de Bel-Air, owned and operated by Jean-Marc Lafont produces Beaujolais wines of great finesse, and the Morgon “Les Charmes” is no exception. The high complexity of the wine is attributed to the vines being on average 50 years old.

 

Jean-Marc also ensures, from harvest to the bottling, the process is gentle and simple. This instils a precise and acute feel to this Beaujolais wine, allowing every sip to feel like an indulgence, all while highly environmentally friendly. 

 

The Morgon “Les Charmes” shows some precise notes of cherry, peach and plum. The palate is structured with bold and silky tannins and is also driven by a very distinctive minerality. It is ready to drink if decanted 30 minutes before serving. It can also be cellared up until 2027+.

 

What would you eat with it?

It pairs well with cheese, beef burgundy, coq au vin and a nice barbecue. 

 

Clutch Wine

Henri from Clutch Wine shares his Beaujolais and Gamay recommendations for Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2021.

 

Which Beaujolais do you recommend for Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2021?

I have two different styles from the same price range.

 

2019 Baptiste Bertrand is a lighter style of Beaujolais. No Sulphur added.

Cousin of Yann Bertrand, Baptiste has been selling his grapes for a long time and decided to make his own wine in 2018. Organic, light extraction, super aromatic. I would say his wine has a similar style to Charnay but a touch more elegant. It can stand ground to cru wines. A young vigneron to watch

 

Why do you recommend this wine?

They are both an amazing example of Gamay at a very affordable price. 

This wine is packed with red fruits and some green profile coming through on the back pallet.

 

What would you eat with it?

Definitely with some Duck or a vegan burger for a vegan option.

 

The other wine I recommend is 2020 Domaine Charnay Beaujolais which is a medium body wine.

 

Why?

Another amazing example of Gamay at a very affordable price. 

This wine is more gutsy, medium body more complexity. A wine that can be cellar for years.

 

What would you serve with it?

Pork Belly would be amazing.

 

 

GIFT PACK: Also for a gift idea we have a Beaujolais Lovers gift pack. It contains 3 different styles that will make your taste buds sing.

  • 2019 Loui, Y Es Tu? NO SO2
  • 2019 Domaine Charnay
  • 2019 Domaine de la Cure ‘Gamine’

 

 

Do you like Beaujolais, Gamay or Beaujolais Nouveau? What’s your favourite Gamay to drink?

 

Happy Beaujolais Nouveau 2021!

 

If you like French wine you may also like the following articles about French wine varietals:

Merlot Day 2021: 17 things you didn’t know about Merlot

Discover 15 things you didn’t know about Carignan for Carignan Day 2021

ChampagneDay 2021: how well do you know champagne? Plus champagne recommendations

International Grenache Day 2021: Discover 11 things you didn’t know about Grenache to celebrate

 

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Gamay Beaujolais Nouveau 2021

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