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Weekly Wine Quiz #82: Grape Trivia – Gamay

November 16, 2013 19 comments
Gamay grapes Source: Wikipedia

Gamay grapes
Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engines. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus again on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Gamay, also called Gamay Noir, and fully officially a Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc.

Gamay is a purple-skinned grape, taking its name from the village of Gamay, located south of Beaune in France. Gamay is considered to be a cross between Pinot Noir and ancient white grape called Gouais Blanc. First mentions of Gamay go all the way back to the 14th century, so it had being around for a while.

Gamay grapes have thin skin, and have a tendency to overproduce, creating the grapes with very high level of acidity and low sugar, which often results in the production of lightly colored and quite acidic wines. The overproduction and high acidity were the reasons for the Gamay being literally outlawed and pushed out of Burgundy by the royal rulers at the end of 14th century, to give way for much rounder Pinot Noir. As the result, Gamay mostly settled in Beaujolais area, where it became the major red grape variety. Gamay is used in Beaujolais to produce a wide range of wines, starting from the famous Beaujolais Nouveau, the wine produced within 6 weeks of the harvest – young, grape-y and quaffable, but usually not very exciting; and then going to the Cru Beaujolais ( there are 10 villages in Beaujolais, which have this status), which can be dense, concentrated and age-worthy.

In addition to Beaujolais, Gamay is also growing in Loire region, where it is often blended with other local grapes such as Cabernet Franc and Cot ( Malbec) and it is used to produce both red and Rosé wines. The Rosé from Loire are typically a lot fruitier than the ones from Provence. Gamay is also successfully grown in Switzerland, especially in the area around lake Geneva – it is often blended with Pinot Noir there. Outside of France, Gamay is planted in the number of regions, such as United States and Italy, but it doesn’t produce much of the well known wines. Interestingly enough, a world renowned wine writer and critic, Jancis Robinson, was raving about Gamay wines produced by Sorrenberg of Beechworth in north east Victoria, Australia  – she mentioned that it might be “one of the most exciting Gamays I have ever tasted”.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Gamay is closely associated with every third Thursday in November. Can you explain why?

Q2: Carbonic maceration is an important method in production of wines made out of Gamay. Can you briefly explain what is carbonic maceration and how does it helps here?

Q3: Fill in the blanks: In Beaujolais, Fleuri is considered to produce the most ___ wine, and Moulin-à-Vent produces the most ___ wines.

Q4: Which one doesn’t belong and why:

a. Brouilly

b. Côte de Brouilly

c. Côte Chalonnaise

d. Juliénas

e. Régnié

Q5: True or False: Beaujolais Nouveau wines can be aged for a few years before consumption.

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

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