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Sunday 19 July 2020

The glamour of gamay; the beauty of Beaujolais

I am always amazed that Australians do not drink more wines made from the gamay grape.

The structured but usually lighter-bodied reds made from gamay are perfect for the Australian lifestyle - and producers including Sorrenberg, Sinapius, De Bortoli Yarra Valley, Rising, Eldridge Estate, Timo Mayer, Punt Road, Meadowbank, Two Bud Spur, Ochota Barrels, Farr Rising and others make good examples.

In France, gamay can produce wines of distinction in both Beaujolais and the Loire Valley, but its value in export markets was reduced by the popularity over a couple of decades of Beaujolais Nouveau - an undistinguished "drink-now" style deliberately made light bodied and fruity.

Entry level wines are usually labelled AOC Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages and then the 10 Cru Beaujolais regions tend to produce wines with more body, dark cherry and pepper notes; these are usually produced by using whole-berry maceration.

From north to south the Beaujolais crus are: Saint-Amour, Julienas, Chenas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly, which can produce wines of great intensity.

Wine merchant and importer Randall Pollard recently sent me some very enjoyable Beaujolais from Chateau Thivin, a benchmark Côte de Brouilly producer, which is known for producing structured wines that can comfortably be aged.

Chateau Thivin is owned by the Geoffray family, who are working towards organic certification and have barred herbicides and insecticides from their vineyards and tend to use older oak vessels for maturation.

The 2018 vintage wines I sampled were all excellent; US importer Kermit Lynch describes them as "handsome, virile, earthy, and an aristocrat".

For everyday drinking, the Thivin Beaujolais-Villages Vignes l'Ecussol 2018 ($36) is a winner; a single vineyard wine from 50-year-old vines under screwcap that strikes the right balance between style and rusticity; freshness and elegance.

A step up is the Thivin 
Côte de Brouilly Les Septs Vignes 2018 ($55) made from fruit grown on volcanic soils, bright purple, grippy and minerally while retaining youthful succulence.

The Thivin 
Côte de Brouilly La Chapelle 2018 ($62) is a classic higher-altitude wine concentrated and structured.

Order the Beaujolais wines here: 

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