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Today's The Day For A Fine Gamay

Before I really knew anything about wine, I still knew something about Beaujolais. There always seemed to be something magical about this light wine, almost purple in colour which was all about fresh fruit rather than the big and bold flavours synonymous with regions like Bordeaux. Wines from there and the people that drank them just always seemed very old hat when I was in my early 20s. Beaujolais on the other hand, in my mind at least, was a bright and happy place full of fun. When I visited for the first time back in 2016, I realised that this wasn't really the case. Climbing Mount Brouilly, it became apparent that it was pretty much exactly the same as any other wine region. But I still love the wines more than most!

I think a lot of this misconception came down to the marketing of Beaujolais Nouveau. There has always been a tradition of winemakers gathering to drink the first wine of the vintage but in the 80s a guy called Georges Duboeuf took things to a new level by dressing it up as some huge race to see who could get the first bottles to Paris and London on the third Thursday of November.

It might sound stupid but to me (and many others apparently) this seemed really fun and refreshing in a wine world full of stuffiness and with an obsession for old bottles. The wines always had bright labels and promised joy but didn't exactly always deliver. Beaujolais Nouveau gained a reputation for tasting like banana sweets and pear drops (which I didn't always hate to be honest!) and slowly the fuss died down. But in recent years, mainly thanks to natural winemakers, Beaujolais Nouveau is back on the scene and the quality levels are better than ever. The wines are still incredibly light and all about fresh and candied fruit but made with more care using low intervention techniques.

The day has also become more of a celebration for Beaujolais wines in general and others made from the same grape (Gamay) in general so as tomorrow is the third Thursday in November we are celebrating with everything we love about the region and the Gamay grape with these picks...

THE FAMOUS WINE ITSELF...

Beaujolais Nouveau 2020 - Séléné

The grapes were only harvested a few months ago but the juice is already fermented and inside this bottle! As I write this, I'm not allowed to taste it until midnight tonight so don't expect tasting notes just yet...100% Gamay from near Mount Brouilly.

SOMETHING MORE SERIOUS...

La Baleine Ivre 2018 - La Dernière Goutte

In recent years, top Beaujolais producers are focussing on much more serious expressions of the Gamay grape, making wines of amazing depth and complexity and this is one of those wines. Much more body than you might expect and made with no added sulphur.

SOMETHING ON THE WILD SIDE...

Gamay 2019 - Pierre Cotton

If you like your wine wild, then this is the one for you. Amazing intensity of fresh and candied red cherry. Really light and cloudy in the glass. Full of energy and zip. Again made with no sulphur.

SOMETHING WHITE...

Boire Desír 2018 - La Dernière Goutte

Yes, white grapes, mainly Chardonnay, also grow in the region too! This wine has been made in the style of a white Burgundy (barrel aged) and can even call itself a Bourgogne Blanc for some strange and potentially controversial reason, hence the pirate flag on the bottle. Expect oaky but refined flavours of vanilla and a cream-like texture.  

SPARKLING GAMAY FROM ANOTHER REGION...

La Bulle Rouge 2018 - Les Capriades

The Gamay grape also grows very well in certain areas of the Loire valley. This superb Pet Nat (ancestral method sparkling wine) utilises 3 types of the Gamay grape and has a slightly off-dry character making it great as an aperitif or as a partner to a mildly sweet dessert. 

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