Red Wine Talk: Gimme Some Gamay

Gamay Noir is one of Europe’s great red wine grapes, but it hasn’t made the same inroads in North America that its cousins, such as Merlot, have enjoyed – yet. One place it’s breaking ground is in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which isn’t as famous as Napa or Sonoma – yet. We think both the variety and the region need to be on your radar ASAP. 

The grape, which can also just be called Gamay, is the fruit used in Beaujolais Nouveau, the limited-edition young wine that causes panic and near-riots among oenophiles whenever it is released.

Oregon’s Brick House Vineyards is leading the Gamay revolution in the U.S. with their three and a half acres planted with the grape (okay, it’s a small revolution, but a revolution nonetheless!). The Gamay has become its most popular wine, along with the vineyard’s Pinot Noir, another grape native to France’s Burgundy region: Willamette Valley’s climate matches Burgundy’s, making the area a good place to transfer the grapes.

The winery started out solely as an orchard, with the owner selling his certified organic grapes to a handful of neighboring winemakers. He eventually made the switch to a full-blown bearer of the bottle, and now produces his wines biodynamically as well as organically.

Brick House uses natural yeast and ferments solely through malolactation, meaning it’s not forced with synthetics. The Gamay is even more natural than the winery’s other products, as it doesn’t need added acid or sugar.

Gamay is famously fruity and floral, so it’s not everybody’s cup of… well, wine. But it doesn’t get much better than Brick House’s offering: Food & Wine magazine called it “the greatest Gamay outside of Beaujolais.” Higher praise just doesn’t exist.

(image via antoine pasquier-desvignes)

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