Republished from the Oct. 10, 2005 <i>30 Second Wine Advisor</i>
Chateau des Charmes Gamay Droit
A quick word about today's featured wine: It's a Gamay, made from the same grape variety as Beaujolais in France ... but <i>what</i> a Gamay!
Gamay Noir "Droit" is a unique clone of the Gamay grape registered by, and grown only on the property of, Chateau des Charmes, which is one of the Niagara Peninsula's older wineries and one of its most spectacular, with an imposing winery building in the style of a French chateau.
In 1982, winery founder Paul-Michel Bosc discovered a single Gamay Noir vine that showed unusual characteristics. Visually, it stood out in the vineyard row because it grew naturally in an upright ("droit") position. More significantly, its grapes proved to ripen about ten days later than regular Gamay Noir, a short but significant difference that yielded higher sugar levels and more intense color, resulting in a Gamay wine with atypically full body, high alcohol and concentrated flavor.
Delighted, M. Bosc propagated the vine through cuttings, registered the clone to ensure international plant-breeder rights for Chateau de Charmes, and now has enough of it growing in the winery's St. David's Bench Vineyard to produce more than 1,000 cases of "Gamay Noir 'Droit'," perhaps the most exuberant and powerful Gamay I've ever tasted, no mere "fruit bomb" but a luscious, complex wine that brings together fruit and floral character with excellent balance and noteworthy minerality.
Konrad Ejbich's Ontario Wine Guide rates it four stars (90-93 - "Terrific. Expect an exceptional experience"). I rate it "Wow!"
<table border="0" align="right" width="155"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/char1009.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Chateau des Charmes 2003 St. Davids Bench Vineyard Niagara Peninsula VQA "Droit" Gamay Noir (CDN$15.95)
Clear, dark garnet with brilliant reddish-violet glints. Delicious aromas, fruit-forward red berries and roses and a warming whiff of cinnamon add up to complexity unusual in a Gamay. Juicy and tart flavors, cranberry and a squirt of lemon; fresh, clean and lasting. Outstanding, a world-class Gamay with a unique Canadian twist. Purchased at the winery in August 2005. (0ct. 9, 2005)
<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> The wine maker suggests pairing it with tomato-sauce pasta dishes, red meats and barbecued foods. It worked well for me with a more refined dish, poached chicken with an herbal tarragon velouté.
<B>VALUE:</B> At the prevailing U.S.-Canadian dollar exchange rate, this cost me US$13.50, a very fine value indeed.
<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> Gamay is not for cellaring, but this wine's purity and balance don't require immediate drinking. It should be good on the wine rack for at least a year or two.
<B>WEB LINK:</B> Chateau des Charmes' attractive Website
is online in both English and French.
<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B> Chateau des Charmes' wines are available at the winery, in LCBO stores in Ontario and in at least a few other Canadian provinces, U.S. states, Britain, France and Japan. For distributor information check the winery Website's "Contacts" page, http://www.chateaudescharmes.com/contact/contact.html
Wine-Searcher.com has relatively few hits on Chateau des Charmes