Gamay, Nouveau, and Montmartre: Oakville Sommelier

Clos Montmartre
Gamay, Nouveau, and Montmartre: Oakville Sommelier
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About the Author

Cynthia Silversides

Cynthia Silversides

Cynthia Silversides is an accredited Sommelier certified by both the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS). Passionate about great wine, food, and travel experiences, Cynthia is owner of Niagara Vino providing tutored wine tasting and tour services in the Niagara Peninsula wine region of Ontario, Canada. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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As Americans are heading into Thanksgiving next week and selecting wine to pair with the occasion, the French are busy the week before preparing for what happens every year on the third Thursday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Around 120 festivals take place in the Beaujolais wine region celebrating this first wine of the season made from the Gamay Noir grape. These grapes are hand-picked and whole berries are fermented within weeks of harvesting by a winemaking technique called carbonic maceration. This makes for a light, fruity red wine with refreshing acidity which is best served chilled. Beaujolais Nouveau wine is released at 12:01 a.m. according to French law, and it is meant to be drunk young. For most vintages it is recommended for consumption prior to the May after it has been released. It makes a fine match for pizza, and even turkey!

Clos Montmartre

Clos Montmartre
Photo credit: © C. Silversides

There are other styles of Gamay wine in France with most of them being in the 12 Beaujolais appellations ranging from Blanc and Rosé, to Villages – an intermediate category, to Cru Beaujolais – the highest classification ranging from lighter to fuller body, some requiring aging. Interestingly Gamay Noir is one of the grapes grown in the only working vineyard in Paris – Clos Montmartre. Planted in 1933, it is a very small, enclosed vineyard around 1500 square metres in size. When I visited this past October during their annual Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre (Harvest Festival of Montmartre), I had the opportunity to take a tour beyond the locked gate of this vineyard and learned that their vineyard is planted to 27 varieties, of which approximately 75% is Gamay Noir. About 1700 bottles are produced annually and auctioned off to raise money for local charity.

Clos Montmartre

Clos Montmartre
Photo credit: © C. Silversides

Gamay Noir is a great grape for Ontario due it being an early ripener which works well in our climates where we have a shorter grape growing season than some wine regions. You can find many fine examples locally, especially in the Niagara Escarpment sub-regions.

So there you have it: Gamay, Nouveau, and Montmartre

 

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