We love terroir, and love to talk about the unique taste of place. And often with this approach the goal is to forget grape variety, such that geology and terroir speak alone, not the grape variety itself. But it seems to me that one variety needs to be mentioned, and needs to speak as loudly as its terroir. Gamay.
Gamay should speak in tongues of ripe and abundant fruit. It should remind you of days when blackberries were ripe, and your stomach not large enough to contain all that your greedy hands could loot. Once its fruit-driven destiny is fulfilled, Gamay may then begin to speak of terroir.
Unfortunately, the world’s most famous Gamay was built on an abuse of this affable quality. Beaujolais Nouveau. And the world was tricked into thinking that Gamay was incapable of making serious wine.
We should forget Beaujolais Nouveau. And thankfully lots of people have. Lessons have been learned, and the fast track cash machine that has usurped the reputation of one of France’s fine and certainly very unique terroirs now serves only a relatively few large corporations and cooperatives. The real Beaujolais is made with ripe grapes, and the time needed to bring it to bottle in an honest and delicious way is afforded. Under these conditions, Gamay can truly shine on what is a very uncommon terroir in France: granite, Gamay’s true fetish. Terroir can indeed play a role in Gamay production.
But let’s be clear, Gamay is a drink made for drinkers. In the Beaujolais, visits to producers seem not to end, rather they morph into aperitif, and spitbuckets are almost never provided. They say that the Magnum is the most appropriately sized bottle, 750ml being too little to appreciate an evening drink with friends. Thus the Magnum has been deemed about the right quantity (for one person). To every man his magnum!
As a wine geek, it seems indecent to not speak volumes on the intricate and fine details of a wine over an interminable tasting of intellectual detail. But why not!? It also seems instinctively appropriate that some fine wines be made for drinking, and no better to fill that role than Gamay. Yes, this is fine wine, but no, it is not complicated!
In our humble opinion…