Gamay noir à jus blanc is the identity of an entire region
In the past, Gamay was widely used in France, but nowadays it has retreated to its lands in the Beaujolais region. It reigns supreme over the Beaujolais winegrowing area, with its purple-black colour dominating the almost 16,000 hectares of vines.
The Beaujolais region produces a huge variety of wines with a single grape variety (well almost, we’ll come back to that later).
It expresses different nuances on different terroirs, giving wines of varying levels of tannins and fruitiness.
The result: 12 appellations are produced from the Gamay grape.
The wines here are mostly red but Gamay is also used for rosés in AOC Beaujolais and AOC Beaujolais Villages.
The Gamay variety is associated with Beaujolais to such an extent that people from all over the world come here to study it. Gamay also has plenty of fans across the globe since it spread to other countries.
But it is a vulnerable sovereign that needs constant care and attention from its servants to keep its natural energy under control so that it may reign in glory.
Its clusters of purple-black berries have thin, delicate skin, making them vulnerable to rot. Gamay is also sensitive to weather conditions during the flowering period.
The more plants there are on a plot of land, the more prolific Gamay is. So it has to be trained to ensure a balance between grape quantity and quality. Short pruning using the Gobelet technique is one of the best ways to train this particular variety, although other techniques are increasingly being used (fan, top wire cordon etc.)
All these characteristics produce wines with a beautiful red-coloured robe. They are fresh wines, low in alcohol content and packed with red and black fruit aromas (raspberry, wild strawberry, blackberry, black cherry). They occasionally release pepper or floral notes.
Gamay is therefore a variety with great breadth that can produce primeur wines, hugely elegant wines as well as cellaring wines.
Although Gamay rules supreme in the Beaujolais region, it is not the only variety grown here. Chardonnay is a little-known secret but one that produces great wines (around 2% of the total volume produced in the Beaujolais region). It is used to produce white wines in the AOC Beaujolais and the AOC Beaujolais Villages production areas.