Gamay wine variety in Australia

Gamay is a versatile red wine grape variety best known for its role in Beaujolais, but it also plays many other roles in winemaking in other regions of France and elsewhere.

A number of wineries are using this variety successfully to make wine in Australia.

Outside of the Beaujolais region this variety makes spicy reds and roses in the lower Loire Valley. In Burgundy, Gamay plays second fiddle to Pinot Noir as a component in lesser wines. In Switzerland it plays a similar role where it is blended with Pinot Noir to produce a red wine known as Dole.

The fashion for full bodied wines a la Parker has left lighter styled wines in a shadow. This is a pity because Gamay wines can be excellent, and not all are as unidimensional as cheap Beaujolais Nouveau. Just as every meal does not have to be a huge piece of steak, every wine you drink does not have to be a super heavyweight either. Wines from this variety can be full flavoured, don't be fooled by their lighter colour and body.

You will find a few plantings in Australia across a broad range of climates, from Southern Tasmania, the Mornington Peninsula, North Eastern Victoria, the Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley and the Granite Belt in Queensland.

This early ripening variety is suitable in cooler regions, but its wide distribution in Australian wine regions suggests that it is a versatile variety.

I can find no better description of Gamay's varietal character than this sentence from Karen MacNeil, author of the Wine Bible

"Drinking Gamay is like diving into a pool of black cherries."

Beaujolais and other lighter wines are usually best consumed young. This allows you to enjoy the fruity flavours.

I recommend that you serve lighter style wines cool, rather than chilled on a warm summer day, or at room temperature in the cooler months.

Wineries using this variety in Australia include:

Bass Phillip Gippsland | Brave Goose Vineyard Goulburn Valley | Cofield Wines Rutherglen | Cushendell Southern Highlands | Darling Estate King Valley | De Bortoli Riverina | Elan Vineyard Mornington Peninsula | Eldridge Estate Mornington Peninsula | Gowrie Mountain Estate Darling Downs | Grandview Vineyard Southern Tasmania | Happs Margaret River | John Gehrig Wines King Valley | Little Bridge Canberra | Marq Margaret River | Marybrook Vineyards & Winery Margaret River | Mount Burrumboot Estate Heathcote | Pennyweight Winery Beechworth | Pfeiffer Wines Rutherglen | Red Earth Estate Western Plains | Roundstone Winery Yarra Valley | Sailors Falls Winery Macedon Ranges | Scarpantoni Estate McLaren Vale | Sorrenberg Beechworth | Sutherlands Creek Vineyard Geelong | Thick as Thieves Yarra Valley | Two Bud Spur Southern Tasmania | Wilmot Hills Vineyard Northern Tasmania

Gamay and Food Pairing

I suggest that you pair Gamay and lighter red wine styles with foods such as chicken, turkey or veal. You should also try them at the start of the meal with lighter hors d'oeuvre, or antipasto.

The high acidity of many Gamay wines make them suitable as accompaniments to Foie gras or rich pates. The versatility of Gamay makes it an ideal wine to take on a picnic. Serve it cool with a variety of cold cuts and salads.

Evan Goldstein's Daring Pairings contains some more information about different grape varieties and food. Here is a great place to buy this book and other wine and food books with free worldwide delivery

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