I hardly need any prodding to go to my wine local shop, The Fine Wine Source, but I had promised that I would come back for a real tasting, and they asked if I could bring someone else, since my Bride could not attend. I called my trusty friend The Wine Raconteur, Jr. (a name that he gave himself) and asked him, if he would like to attend with me. He answered in the affirmative, though we had to arrange it between times that his Bride and his daughter both wouldn’t need his expertise. We drove up separately and the tasting did take a little longer, as they kept finding some additional wines for us to try, and of course we both left with a cardboard carton to carry our choices with.
The first two wines that we tried were made from the Gamay variety, and neither one was a Beaujolais, the wine that immediately comes to mind when Gamay is mentioned. The same Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau that became the marketer’s dream in the Seventies to the Nineties. I remember once attending a restaurant that had a barrel flown in, and the barrel could not be tapped until a certain time; it was a fun evening. While Gamay is thought of, as a French grape, it is believed to have originally come from one of the old Germanic States in the 14th Century. The Dukes of Burgundy were so unenthused that they tried to outlaw the grape from being grown, because it was so different from the grapes that had brought Burgundy fame, even back then. They eventually kind of banished the grape to the granite soils just north of Lyon, and that terroir was perfect for Gamay. There are ten villages or Crus in Beaujolais that do an excellent job with Gamay, as well as some parts of the Maconnais. The grape also is found in the Upper Loire, Switzerland, some of the former Balkan nations and then has done well in some parts of the New World as well.
Our first wine was Domaine Pascal Aufranc Chenas Vignes de 1939 2019 from the Terroirs Originels group. Terroirs Originels unites artisan winemakers to allow them to make their estate made wine from South Burgundy (Cote Beaujolais and Cote Maconnais) and use one central warehouse for sales, logistics, marketing etc. that may prevent a small vigneron from fulfilling his dream of his own winery and they have been doing it for about twenty years. Pascal Aufranc vineyard “En Remont” is a secluded vineyard at the end of a path and surrounded by woods and fields. Chenas is one of the Crus of Beaujolais, established in 1936, and this vineyard “En Remont” which is less than four acres contains seventy-year-old vines that are grown in a soil of sand, granite and quartz. The wine starts with eight to ten days of maceration with whole clusters, and the juice is then aged for eight months in concrete vats on fine lees with light filtration. There were six-hundred-fifteen cases produced of the wine. A big red garnet colored wine offering red fruit and some spices like cinnamon and a nice finish highlighting the soft tannins and terroir.
Maison Leroy Bourgogne Gamay 2019 was our second wine that was pure Gamay. Domaine Leroy is both a negociant and a wine producer based in the Cote de Nuits and offers wines from basic representation to some of the most iconic vineyards in the world, second only to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The Domaine was founded by Francois Leroy, a wine merchant in 1868 and his heirs have been with the company ever since and involved with the affairs of the Burgundy region. Maison Leroy is used for all non-estate wines, those that are from the negociant side of the business, but still under their watchful eye. This wine was a lighter Gamay wine both in color and in taste and body, a more understated and reserved finish, not the red cherry and strawberry notes that most people associate with Gamay. A very interesting glass of wine.