Much more than Beaujolais Nouveau...
Gamay became widely known in Burgundy throughout the 14th century until it was banished from the Côte d'Or in 1395 by Duke Philippe le Hardi. With its earlier ripening, higher yields, and juice with fine acidity and light tannins, it offers several advantages to winegrowers over Pinot Noir, but is rather less suited to Burgundy's limestone soils, preferring the granitic soils that characterise most of the Beaujolais, especially the region’s ten Crus.
With its multiple nuances of fruit and subtle spicy, floral notes, Gamay has made its way into regions such as the Auvergne and the Loire Valley, in addition to the Beaujolais and the neighbouring Mâconnais, with various expressions ranging from a fresh vivacity (particularly in limestone terroirs) to a silky suppleness (when grown on granitic and schist soils).
Characterised by its freshness of fruit and its easy-going vinosity - too often pushed to the point of caricature, particularly in the Beaujolais "primeur" or "nouveau" - Gamay is magnified by the Beaujolais-style vinification of whole bunches (carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration), which exalts the organoleptic singularity of the grape variety and softens its acidity and natural tannins, whereas Burgundian vinification produces more structured wines. When farmed and produced using natural methods, and aged until the Spring following the harvest, Gamays are at once deliciously drinkable and offer real depth.