Well, there’s no cherry in the 2016 like there was in the 2009, but they’re very similar in profile. The 2016 is a hair more complex with some earthiness on the palate. It’s the equivalent of a quality Beaujolais-Village or a value Morgon. Chateau Grand Traverse retains its title as the king of Gamay in Michigan. This wine is recommended.
Place of origin: Niagara Escarpment VQA, Ontario, Canada
Price: $12.50 USD ($17 Canadian, LCBO)
Appearance: Dark burgundy.
Nose: Black pepper, earth, blackberry jam, peony.
Palate: Semi-dry and full-flavored. Reminiscent of Cru Chénas or Cru Juliénas. Earthy but fruity. Blackberry, mushroom.
Finish: Tart with a little spice. Fades pretty quickly.
Parting words: This is the last wine I have left from my last trip to the LCBO a few months ago. It was a part of my effort to give myself a crash course in Gamay. I expected it to be similar to the Gamay produced by Chateau Grand Traverse or Hawthorne on Old Mission Peninsula in Northern Michigan, but it was not like those at all. Cave Spring’s was fruity but “darker” and spicier than I expected. I found that quality off-putting at first, but I grew to enjoy it over the time it was open. That’s where the comparison to Chénas comes in. I remember the first time I tasted one, I was shocked at how unlike it was from any other Beaujolais I had tasted before. I was intrigued, though, and at that moment began planning the crash course.
At any rate, this is a Gamay that one can easily drink with any sort of cuisine and at $12.50 (plus border toll) it’s affordable enough to be in weeknight rotation. 2015 Cave Spring Gamay is recommended.
Maker: Hawthorne Vineyards, Traverse City, Michigan, USA
Grape: Gamay (at least 85%)
Place of origin: Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA
Purchased for $14 (Meijer)
Appearance: Translucent ruby.
Nose: Fruit punch, toasted oak.
Palate: Raspberry, strawberry, black cherry, wood, clove.
Finish: Cherry juice, oak
Purchased: I love Gamay and I love this wine. It is a great example of what Gamay does best. It makes fruity, enjoyable wines that are great summer sippers or alongside the sort of food Pinot Noir usually accompanies. If I were to compare it to a red from Beaujolais (Gamay’s home base), I would say it most resembles a quality Beaujolais-Villages or a fruity Cru Beaujolais like Fleurie. It’s great to drink now, but it will probably deepen and grow more complex if cellared for another year or more. I recently finished a bottle of Chateau Grand Traverse Gamay Noir from 2014 that was still quite good, so don’t feel rushed. $14 is a very good price. 2016 Hawthorne Vineyards Gamay is recommended.
Yes, it’s another head to head! This time I decided to pit a 2014 Gamay Noir from Chateau Grand Traverse on Old Mission Peninsula against a 2014 Beaujolais-Villages from Joseph Drouhin, one of Burgundy’s biggest négociants (wine buyers/blenders/bottlers). I enlisted the help of friends of the blog Amy and Pete to help us out (last seen here). Just to make sure we were tasting the wine and not our biases, we tasted these two wines blind. I’ll review them that way too, revealing which is which (and price and ABV) at the end. I’ll integrate the co-taster’s notes into my own, noting if they differ from mine.
A: Dark rose.
B: Similar, but a little darker
A: Fruity, berries specifically. I also smelled pepper and a drop of balsamic vinegar (in a good way)
B: Very similar, maybe a little more oak and a little less balsamic.
A: Light bodied. Strawberry, blackberry, oak.
B: Same flavor palette, but a little drier, chewier and more intense. That said, none of us knew if I could tell these two apart in a wider tasting. They both grew tart as they warmed, shifting into raspberry.
A: Drying. Balsamic, oak.
B: Similar but drier and longer.
A= Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages, 2014. 12.5% ABV. $16 (Holiday Market)
The CGT Gamay Noir performed slightly better, but as I wrote above, the wines were virtually identical. Both were delicious and paired well with the chocolate and cheese we nibbled on during the tasting. They’d both do well with grilled or roasted chicken, salmon or pork. Both are recommended, but why not save yourself a buck while supporting the Mitten state and pick up a bottle of CGT Gamay Noir the next time you buy wine!
Maker: Duboeuf, Romanèche-Thorins, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France
Place of origin: Beaujolais, Burgundy, France
Purchased for $9
Appearance: Dark burgundy.
Nose: Blueberry, red current, red raspberry, black cherry.
Palate: Same berry flavors on the palate, but with a hint of pepper.
Finish: Short with a slight tang and more berries.
Parting words: Duboeuf is one of the most famous of the Bungundian négociants and it’s probably most famous for this wine, Beaujolais Nouveau. This wine has come a long way from the heady days of the late 20th century, but it still graces many American Thanksgiving Day tables and serves as a gateway to Burgundy for many people, as it was for me.
To paraphrase Linus, “it’s not a bad little wine.” It pairs well with turkey and smoked meats and is inoffensive enough to serve to the whole family. This vintage is all berries and little else. If that appeals to you, get it. Also, remember it’s only $9, so pound away (slightly chilled.
). Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2014 is recommended.
Maker: Chateau Grand Traverse, Traverse City, Michigan, USA
Region: Old Mission AVA, Michigan, USA
Vintage: 2009 (2008 vintage pictured)
Appearance: Light burgundy with long, fairly thick legs
Nose: Plums, leather, black pepper, cherry. For once a back label is dead on.
On the palate: Light mouth feel, fruity tart cherry up front. As it sits in the glass, the leather and black pepper notes come to the fore. There’s still plenty of fruit, though. A delightful dichotomy of deliciousness. Yes, I just wrote that.
Finish: Clean finish with some lingering tastes of cherry juice and the ubiquitous black pepper.
Parting words: The name Gamay isn’t well known, but many people do know the name of its most famous product, Beaujolais. It has always had its detractors. Two different Dukes of Burgundy outlawed the cultivation of “disloyal Gaamez” in the 15th century. For the record, I am a fan of Gamay, especially in Beaujolais. I was surprised by the peppery nose but it gives it depth and interest that I wasn’t expecting. The pepper moves it closer to estate or cru Beaujolais (according to the internet anyway) than the Beaujolais-Village I drink to wash down my pork chops. This is a very good, food-friendly, but not dumbed down, wine. Recommended.