What is it:
Today Gamay is the source of delicious and affordable wines and some are so sought after by geeks and collectors that they are quite scarce. But Gamay has had some hard times. In 1395 one of the Dukes of Burgundy in Dijon so hated the wines it produced that he ordered it pulled up. Genetically it is one of 20 or so varieties immediately descended from Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc, evolving sometime before the 14th Century.
What’s it like for the grower to handle:
Gamay comes with a whole host of problems, so it takes a conscientious farmer to guide her to produce quality fruit. It buds early, leaving it open to spring frost damage, and is susceptible to sunburn, rot, wood diseases and vine moths.
Where does it grow:
There are more than 75,000 acres of Gamay in France and not just in Beaujolais, but in Burgundy, the Loire Valley and the Savoie. There are substantial plantings in Switzerland, and then bits and pieces in Northern Italy and Eastern Europe. Today there are a number of credible and serious Gamay wines in Oregon and California.¹
¹pp. 384-386, Wine Grapes, Jancis Robinson et al, HarperCollins, New York, 2012
Jean Paul Brun, "Rose D'Folie," Beaujolais, 2013
Distributor: David Bowler Wines, 119 West 23rd St, New York, NY, 10011. (212) 807-1680
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Jean Paul Brun is an iconoclast. He makes some of the best and most respected wines in Beaujolais, from more than a dozen different appellations, while rejecting the carbonic maceration technique that usually marks those wines. He emphatically rejects new oak barrels for his red wines, but makes a Chardonnay as ripe and opulent and toasty as many grand wines of Meursault and Chassagne Montrachet to the north.
Spend a little time in the cellar with him and he may seem gruff, but he cannot hide his generosity. He is always willing to wander off and find another bottle to open, from a rarely seen vintage or something he stopped making because he got bored with it.
Then there is "Rosé D'Folie." Jean Paul makes this little Gamay rosé each year and we at Blue Ribbon look forward to it every year. It is endlessly reliable and tasty, overflowing with delicate pink fruit flavors that are balanced by savory herbal notes and bright crunchy acidity that always leaves us wanting more.
So wander down this week and watch as a glass turns into a bottle sitting at the bar, or skip the glass entirely, put a straw in the bottle and slurp it down. Either way, we can't think of a better way to stay cool this summer.