This type of vine belongs to the family of the Noiriens from Burgundy. It was the most discredited of all the grape varieties, along with the Gros Verdot Colon. Indeed, Philip the Bold, by his edict of 1395, ordered the uprooting of this “very disloyal plant”. Then, by order of December 1, 1567, Philip, king of Spain and count of Burgundy, “prohibited planting and development in this province of new Gamey, Melons and other plants of similar nature and species” (Melon is the current grape variety of the AOC Muscadet as the Gamay is for the AOC Beaujolais and Gaillac).
Until the Revolution, many royal ordinances and edicts of Parliament forbade the extension of cultivation on the pretext that it occupied “terroirs, some of which should be in fields and meadows and others could grow in wood, and thus cause the high cost of grain and fodder and the scarcity of wood”.
Typically Burgundian, it’s almost the only grape variety grown in the Beaujolais region. It is the result of a natural crossing between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc varieties.
Gamay vines produce white downy budding and young leaves with patches of bronze. Whole or tri-lobed, flat, light green adult leaves are specific to Burgundy grape varieties. Its petiolar sinus is Open and V-shaped. One distinguishes the Gamay du Beaujolais with compact bunches from the Gamay du Val de Loire with winged bunches of grapes.
The vinification of Gamay allows the elaboration of warm, fruity and spicy wines, and of “vins nouveaux”, with typical aromas of English candy and banana. They are very round and fruity wines, to be enjoyed young to appreciate the breath of their flavors. It reaches its full potential using semi-carbonic maceration. Gamay’s aromas are predominantly fruity, with notes of raspberry, wild strawberry, blackberry and black cherry. But peppery and floral touches, notably peony, are frequently associated with this grape variety.
In the Southwest, France, Gamay N is confined to the eastern part of the Midi-Pyrénées because it does adapte well the west because its precocious nature and sensitivity to grey rot.