Why gamay is so hot right now

Gamay is famous as the only permitted grape in France's Beaujolais.
Gamay is famous as the only permitted grape in France's Beaujolais. Photo: iStock

Gamay is fast becoming fashionable in Australia. Famous as the only permitted grape in France's Beaujolais, it's also grown with good effect in France's Savoie and Loire Valley regions.

Just as Beaujolais is enjoying a revival, Australian winemakers – especially the younger generation – are eagerly seeking out fruit, or planting vines themselves, to make light-bodied, early-drinking reds. Gamay well suits this kind of wine: it's refreshing, low in tannin, has negligible oak, is bottled early and sold quickly. Great for winery cash-flow. Its moderate alcohol, crisp acidity and gulpability make it a go-to option in trendy wine bars in the back lanes of Sydney and Melbourne.

Gamay is especially suited to cool climates such as the Yarra Valley and Adelaide Hills. We'll be seeing a lot more of it.

Eldridge Estate Gamay 2018, Mornington Peninsula, $50

Score 92

With a glowing red-purple hue, this opens with a waft of sulfide that dissipates with aeration. Then, dark-cherry fruit arrives, together with mixed spices, presenting a compelling bouquet. It's light-bodied, fresh and lively, with a nervy mouth-feel. It's made to accompany food, which balances its bright acidity. Screw-cap; 13.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Best now to six years.

Stockists include Annandale Cellars (NSW); Armadale Cellars (Vic).

Punt Road Napoleone Vineyard Block 18 Gamay 2018, Yarra Valley, $28

Score 92

This soft-textured, light-bodied red was made using whole-berry and whole-bunch fermentations, to improve texture and enhance perfume. Aged only in old oak to preserve fruit. Peppery, spicy and vegetal aromas, soft and mild. Its savoury flavours transcend simple grapiness. Screw-cap; 13 per cent alcohol.


Ageing? Best now to six years.

Stockists include Blackhearts and Sparrows (Vic); Paddington Fine Wines (NSW).

Domaine de Chatillon Gamay 2017, Savoie, France, $25

Score 90

A light-bodied red in a savoury style, smelling of forest floor, dried herbs and dried flowers, with a cherry bonbon background. Gentle texture, very light tannins, easy drinking. Diam cork; 12.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to five years.

Stockists include: Paddington Fine Wines (NSW); Bottle House, South Yarra (Vic).