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July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Robin Garr » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:28 am

Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais, formally known as Gamay Noir au Jus Blanc. Not the most highly regarded of grapes, especially when so much of it is vinified in a simple, one-dimentional, tutti-frutti style. And then there's that bad reputation that stuck for more than 600 years after Philip the Bold of Burgundy declared Gamay that "most disloyal variety," ordering all Gamay vines on the Cote d'Or pulled up and destroyed: The grape wasn't considered good enough for Burgundy. This edict came down on July 31, 1395, so on the last day of this Wine Focus month we can celebrate its 624th anniversary!

But it remains in Beaujolais, and before we're too quick to dismiss it, let's remember that it is the local wine for Lyon, arguably France's second food city after Paris; and that in its better renditions, including the named villages like Brouilly, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie and more, it can be both interesting and complex, capable of balancing fruit, acidity and minerality.

I've already pulled a cork this month, and I look forward to opening more. Let's hear your reports!
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:11 pm

Some very good Gamay coming out of Ontario, especially Malivoire.
I will be away most of this month so pity.
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WTN: Domaine de la Prébrende Beaujolais Vielles Vignes

by Robin Garr » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:51 am

From the always reliable Kermit Lynch, a very nice Beaujolais ...

Anna Asmaquer 2016 Domaine de la Prébrende Beaujolais Vielles Vignes ($17.99)

This clear reddish-purple wine from Gamay Noir grapes starts with a burst of ripe strawberry fruit aromas, still exuberant and youthful at three years old. The flavor is fresh and bright, with plenty of mouth-filling red-berry fruit. It seems simple at first, but cleansing acidity and soft tannins provide structure with 13.5% alcohol, and an intriguing red-clay minerality builds in the long finish. It's a very interesting wine, good with food, and a good value. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch, Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (June 27 , 2019)

FOOD MATCH: Even if Beaujolais is easily dismissed as Burgundy's forgettable little brother, don't forget that it's the local wine of the region around Lyon, arguably France's second food-and-wine city after Paris. It's food friendly and versatile, and if it serves a burger as well as a steak, there's nothing wrong with that. Just for fun, I tried it with a hot-and-spicy breakfast sausage ...

WHEN TO DRINK: With the possibile exception of a few of the higher end Beaujolais wines from named villages, the Gamay grape doesn't make wines that bear long-term aging. Still, this one is quite youthful in its third year and would surely last a few more.

VALUE:
It's a good value table red at or near Wine-Searcher.com's $17 average retail and my $18 retail price.

WEB LINK
Importer Kermit Lynch offers this detailed, specific fact sheet on Domaine de la Prébrende and its Beaujolais wines.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and compare prices for Domaine de la Prébende Beaujolais on Wine-Searcher.com.

Read more about Beaujolais and scan a list of some 500 bottles and their vendors on this link at Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Tim York » Sun Jul 07, 2019 12:33 pm

Gamay is grown in many parts of France but its home is the Beaujolais region. However, it also does very well in a slightly lighter and generally more acidic style in the Loire valley from Côte Roannaise in its upper reaches through Touraine and Anjou to Coteax d'Ancenis near the estuary. I guess that Gamay is planted elsewhere in Europe but I'm not aware of its producing any outstanding wines there.

I tend to associate Gamay with fruity, mineral and affordable "fun" wines to be drunk in their first two or three years though, in the better examples, not devoid of grip and some complexity. However there are some ambitious producers in the Beaujolais region who are trying to produce more "serious" and long lived wines which see new wood and command asking prices north of €30. About a year ago RVF produced a good article analysing different producer styles but I cannot put my hand on it in order to summarise. I confess to some scepticism about "important" Beaujolais and can't recall having had one which convinced me.

Today's Fleurie comes from a cru and producer whose wines I have enjoyed in past vintages but this one was in a dull phase. Luckily the price is still accessible, c.€15 IIRC.

2016 Domaine du Vissoux / Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Les Garants - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Fleurie (7/6/2019)
I continue to be a tad disappointed with this Garants. It has all the symptoms of a vin de garde in a closed period but that is not what I want from a Fleurie of a reputed producer in its third year. There was very little indeed on the nose. The medium bodied palate showed plenty of fruit, minerals, fresh acidity and substance but it was inexpressive and there was a firm liquorice tinged finish. It opened up a little towards the end at a warmer temperature than I usually serve cru Beaujolais so I have hopes that my remaining bottle may delight me in a couple of years or so. Just good at present.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by David M. Bueker » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:13 pm

Sipping on the 2009 Foillard Morgon Cuvée 3.14 and it’s as fruity as a cherry pi.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Rahsaan » Mon Jul 08, 2019 6:16 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Sipping on the 2009 Foillard Morgon Cuvée 3.14 and it’s as fruity as a cherry pi.


Should be no lack of fruit there. I guess you're happy to have opened it now? I hear this cuvee needs more age than the regular Foillard wines. And given the crazy price, I'm more hesitant to experiment.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by David M. Bueker » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:21 am

It was certainly tasty enough. I left half the bottle for tonight.

2009 was the only time I bought the 3.14. I am certainly not going to spend what they are asking for now.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Rahsaan » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:43 am

David M. Bueker wrote: I am certainly not going to spend what they are asking for now.


I feel the same way. I had a few back in the 00s and liked them, but now only have 1 bottle of 2014, bought for something like $80 (plus or minus I forget). That gets into the realm of 1er cru burgundy. So I'm hesitant to open it and will probably not be buying any more!
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Tim York » Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:26 am

Rahsaan wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote: I am certainly not going to spend what they are asking for now.


I feel the same way. I had a few back in the 00s and liked them, but now only have 1 bottle of 2014, bought for something like $80 (plus or minus I forget). That gets into the realm of 1er cru burgundy. So I'm hesitant to open it and will probably not be buying any more!


Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent, are the two crus which are traditionally supposed to be capable of ageing gracefully. The old-timers used to say that Morgon pinote with some age. But $80 is a crazy price to pay for any Beaujolais, however good and capable taking on pinot attributes with age.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Jenise » Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:55 pm

Here's one I picked up at the local Food Co-op where the wine steward/buyer is a big fan of Bojo wines.

2017 Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais Le Perréon Gamay
Initially quite peppery with assertive red fruit and fresh thyme. Good tannins and finish, there's structure here, and a relief after last bottle (from the same case this retailer purchased) was already turning to vinegar. Hope that doesn't mean this is one of those Bojo producers where bottles are frequently off and buying them is a form of roulette.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Tim York » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:44 am

Not all Morgon is pricey. I picked up two bottles of this one for €6 each at a Foire aux Vins last autumn and quaffed the second bottle happily last night. Obviously it doesn't have the potential of Foillard's 3.14 (costing more than 10 times as much :shock: ) but it was enjoyable, indeed more so at present than my recent Vissoux Fleurie. The TN on my first bottle still applies.

2017 Domaine des Souchons Morgon - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon (2/8/2019)
The back label talks of notes of coffee. Perhaps, but notes of plum and stewed prune are much more prominent alongside minerals, fresh acidity and a somewhat rustic finish sprinkled with liquorice. Fun to drink. Good.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Jenise » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:35 pm

Tim, you're so right. We spent ten days sharing a villa in St. Emilion with a few other couples last fall. Lots of wine bottles died every night. One of my favorites was a 5 Euro bottle of 2012 Beaujolais I bought at a grocer along the way. Superb!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Jenise » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:21 pm

Great and useful article about Beaujolais by the inestimable Jon Bonne, who never seems to write about anything without creating a quotable line and observation. In this one, speaking of this region's sensuality, he says "If Burgundy is a love poem, Beaujolais is sex talk." Or something like that. Here, read and enjoy:

https://punchdrink.com/articles/insiders-guide-to-beaujolais-wine-france-marcel-lapierre-thevenet/

Btw, I'm happy to see him highlight Mee Godard. She's just listed in a sentence with a bunch of other notable producers, but it's the same sentence as Foillard so I'm down with this. I have a six pack and haven't opened a bottle yet--stay tuned, it will happen in the next few days.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Jenise » Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:22 pm

Here's a 'dilly'. Ordered a different vintage and cuvee through a distributor connection of a friend, and the idiot supplied this in place of the wine we tasted. Due to the circumstances I didn't feel right about returning the wine. Drank one right off the bat (a year ago) to find out what I was stuck with and wasn't happy at all--it reminded me precisely what I used to dislike about Beaujolais. Last night we opened another:

2017 Paul Durdilly Beaujolais Les Grandes Coasses Gamay
No improvement since July '18--still has that very primary bubble gum taste of carbonic maceration with some vinegary volatility. Husband (tasting blind) said, "Ouch, what vintage is this, last month? " "No," I answered, "next week."
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Tim York » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:37 am

This is Beaujolais (Morgon) in a serious vein built to last. It was a good pairing with rabbit in a sauce with kriek (cherry based) beer and dark cherries, the slight sweetness of which accentuated the acidity of the wine, but it was not exciting or delightful and I doubt if it will ever become so.

2014 Louis Jadot Morgon Château des Jacques - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Morgon (7/12/2019)
This is fuller bodied with more backbone than most Beaujolais with savoury plum and griotte cherry infused fruit, touches of leather, earthy minerals, crisp acidity and distinct tannins supporting the finish. I believe it sees new wood but, if so, it is well integrated. There is more mileage here, I think. Good.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Jenise » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:20 pm

Tim, I think I still own some 2011 of that and recently had a '10 of someone else's. Both were very black fruit, high acidity and tannins, though the '11 was easily the better vintage.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Rahsaan » Sat Jul 13, 2019 3:22 pm

Tim York wrote:This is Beaujolais (Morgon) in a serious vein built to last...but it was not exciting or delightful and I doubt if it will ever become so.


Exactly. I've never understood the point of the 'serious' Jadot Beaujolais wines. Maybe they are just another interpretation of Beaujolais, but they seem to lose the plot. If I want something more serious or more structured there are plenty of other regions for that.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Jenise » Sat Jul 13, 2019 3:28 pm

In short, they lack sex appeal.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:06 pm

The Fleurie I have just opened also has zero sex appeal!! I always regarded this cru as silky and uncomplicated. Stay tuned for my notes on a 2015 Trenel.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by kasey.dubler » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:25 am

Opened a magnum of 2015 Marcel Lapierre Morgon over the weekend.

This was so delicious. Red fruit driven, cherry and raspberry with great acidity. Very mineral, with a little bit of that forest floor aroma as well. Most surprising thing to me was how clean this tasted, with Lapierre I expect a little Brett and there was none. The tannins on this came across almost crunchy, or dusty. This is not your everyday Beaujolais, this is a serious red wine. Reminded me so much of Burgundy, or at least what I want Burgundy to be, but it often doesn't live up to.

I am not a lover of Beaujolais normally. I find most of them to be simple drinkers that would probably be better mixed up for Sangria, but this was killer. Honestly I'd take this over 9/10 village level Burgundies.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:32 am

2015 Trenel Fils Fleurie Beaujolais.

My perception of a silky Gamay from this well established area was quite shattered when I opened my recently purchased Trenel (connections to M Chapoutier). Good nat cork, 13% alc, $24 Cdn, served slightly chilled.
Dark color for a Gamay, nose shows cherry, blueberry, earthy, spice.
Initial entry thought is big undeveloped Gamay. Fine tannins, quite dry and a herbal streak on the finish.
No banana! "Not at all refined and silky" from across the table. No upfront young fruit here, second day not much change, just not what I expected. Pity.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Jenise » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:28 pm

kasey.dubler wrote:Opened a magnum of 2015 Marcel Lapierre Morgon over the weekend.

This was so delicious. Red fruit driven, cherry and raspberry with great acidity. Very mineral, with a little bit of that forest floor aroma as well. Most surprising thing to me was how clean this tasted, with Lapierre I expect a little Brett and there was none. The tannins on this came across almost crunchy, or dusty. This is not your everyday Beaujolais, this is a serious red wine. Reminded me so much of Burgundy, or at least what I want Burgundy to be, but it often doesn't live up to.

I am not a lover of Beaujolais normally. I find most of them to be simple drinkers that would probably be better mixed up for Sangria, but this was killer. Honestly I'd take this over 9/10 village level Burgundies.


Simple drinkers at the village level yes, often, but at the Cru level? You need more Crus! And oui oui on Lapierre.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Tim York » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:40 am

Most of the posts have been about Beaujolais this month so here is a reminder that delighted wines from Gamay are produced in Touraine. I have none at present in my cellar because I drink them up quickly, so here is an old TN.

Henry Marionnet (Domaine de la Charmoise) is its best known and most widely distributed producer. Many of his cuvées are made from vines on pre-phylloxera roots but I don’t think this was one. He also has a range from more unusual vines like Côt (Malbec) and Romorantin.

I think I caught this bottle at an optimum moment. About six months later another had lost bloom and purity.

2016 Domaine de la Charmoise Touraine Première Vendange - France, Loire Valley, Touraine (11/14/2017)
Less full than my memory of 2015 but incredibly pure, subtle and moreish showing a seamless integration of fresh tangy red fruit, fine minerals and mouth-watering acidity. Not a keeper IMO but delightful right now.
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How does Gamay fare in the USA? I seem to recall having had some enjoyable ones in a visit to California many years ago.
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Re: July Wine Focus: Back to basics with Gamay

by Jenise » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:09 pm

Tim, re gamays in the USA. They get some attention from geeks but rather like the real deal from Beaujolais, they're not sought after by the general wine-buying public. Here's a slice from a long TN I wrote in May about my Dork group doing gamay as a topic--two from the U.S. showed up. The first was quickly ID'd as new world, but not the second one.


2016 Anne Amie Gamay Noir Twelve Oaks Estate Chehalem Mountains, Oregon
Tim's. Lingonberry and tart red currant, cola, bay leaf. Very enjoyable.

2015 Lafarge-Vial Fleurie La Joie du Palais Gamay
Mark's. Young, fresh, grippy tannins, direct cherry-raspberry fruit but not much else showing at this time. An ager that needs more time. Would buy for my cellar.

2017 Marcel Lapierre Morgon Gamay
Gabe's. Earthy with sweet fruit, Morroccan spices, lovely acidity. Nicely developed/integrated for so young a wine compared to other '16/'17s on the table.

2012 Evening Land Vineyards Gamay Noir Seven Springs Vineyard Eola - Amity Hills, Oregon
Mine. Good thing I didn't read my last TN in 2017 on this before choosing it for last night's Dork tasting or I'd have scared myself out of taking a very fine gamay that totally passed for real-deal Beaujolais. Med red color, showed accurate for it's age with lilac, bayberry candle, cherries and lingonberry jam. Creamy texture on the palate. Very pleasing.
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