Gamay is a variety of grape used to make red wines. Its full name is Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc, or ‘Black Gamay with white juice’. Gamay Noir is a permitted synonym for Gamay in the U.S.A.
The Gamay grape is thought to date back to the 14th century in the village of Gamay, Beaujolais, France. The grape is commonly grown for wine due to its prolific rate and abundant strength of growth. It produces a strong, fruity wine in high abundance. When planted on acidic soils, the grape’s naturally high acidity needs to be softened. Gamay is used in making the Beaujolais Nouveau, produced from the more alkaline soils of Southern Beaujolais. The plant often grows shallowly due to these soils resulting in a very high acidity. The resulting acidity requires softening of the wine for pleasant drinking. Gamay-based wines are typically light bodied and fruity.
Wines meant for immediate consumption are typically made using carbonic maceration which gives the wines tropical banana flavors and aromas.
Wines meant to be drunk after some modest aging have more body and are produced by whole-berry maceration. These are produced mostly in “Crus” areas of northern Beaujolais where the wines have the flavor of sour cherries, black pepper, and blackcurrant.
Gamay is grown around Beaujolais, France. In the Loire Valley it is typically blended with other varieties to create a local clone of the Malbec. It is grown in the Niagara Peninsula, Canada where a new strain has been discovered called Gamay Droit. It is also grown in Australia and the U.S.A.
Two inexpensive Ontario Gamay wines are available in the Liquor store. One is made by Pelee Island winery $11, and the other is by Malivoire wine company $18.
List of Other Gamays: Beaujolais (France) Beaujolais Mommessin (France) Beaujolais Albert Bichot (France) Beaujolais Rose (France) Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir “Droit” (France) Sorrenberg Gamay (Australia, Victoria) Bass Phillip Gamay (Australia, Victoria)