Wine grapes: Gamay

Gamay probably originated in Dalmatia, the Croat region situated on the Adriatic coast. In any case, it was from there that the grape came to Lyon in the third century AD. It then spread, first conquering Beaujolais, then the Mâconnais before reaching Burgundy and the little village of Gamay which gave it its name. More productive than Pinot Noir, many winemakers adopted it enthusiastically. Gamay's happy history was interrupted in 1395 when King Philip the Bold ordered it to be ripped out, calling it a "very disloyal plant." The persecution continued until the 19th century, when its image finally improved. 

Gamay is the only grape used to make Beaujolais. In fact, it bears the name of a hamlet on the Puligny-Montrachet side of Burgundy. It is perfectly suited to the granite soils of the Beaujolais region. 

Gamay produces red grapes with white juice that are sweet and fruity.

Elsewhere, the Gamay grape fails to express itself well in better soils. However there are examples where it has acclimated well, particularly in Touraine and in Napa and San Benito in California where the wine is sold under the misleading label of Gamay du Beaujolais! 

Wine and aromas
Strawberry, cherry, spice
The wines are light and lively with pronounced flavors of freshly picked berries. They are best drunk young. 

Though usually fresh and quaffable, Gamay wines, depending on the winemaker's choices, may also be more full-bodied, with the fruit (strawberry, raspberry as well as black currant, blackberry and cherry) rounded out by spicy flavors and with the lively acidity typical of the grape accompanied by relatively sturdy tannins. 

Gamay is an excellent wine to drink just for the pleasure of it. Depending on its concentration, it could be paired with John Dory, charcuterie, roast chicken, white meats or cheeses that are not too strong. Why not try a fruity Gamay wine with a red and black berry-based dessert? 

French Terroirs
Beaujolais, Touraine, etc

Swiss Terroirs
In Geneva, Gamay is the predominant red grape variety. It is used on its own in wines from Geneva, while in other regions, it is blended to create well-known wines such as Salvagnin in the Vaud and Dôle in Valais. 

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