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by Fred McMillin
for May 23, 2000

 

Hooray for Gamay


The Question

Dear Fred,
I'm ready to try some red wines. Please suggest one under $10.

...White Zinfandel Fan


The Answer

The Gamay is your transition grape. It makes France's Beaujolais, the most beginner-friendly red in the wine world. But it grew up in the shadow of the noble Pinot Noir, which caused a problem.


The Last Laugh

Hugh Johnson tells us the grape appeared suddenly around the Burgundian village of Gamay in the 1360s. It probably was a mutant of Pinot Noir. It produced much higher yields of wine that "when new flatter strangers with its sweetness." The Dukes of Burgundy banished the Gamay, so it fled south and found a new life. In fact, today it "flatters so many strangers" that it makes more wine than its old rival, Pinot Noir.

Barton & Guestier

Barton & Guestier is an old firm.


Wine of the Day

1998 Beaujolais Villages (vee-lahz) by
Barton & Guestier
Character—Full of pleasing light fruit flavors
Villages??—This is a higher quality category than the wines simply labelled "Beaujolais."
Barton & Guestier—Irishman Tom Barton set up shop in Bordeaux in 1715 to ship claret home. A Guestier became a fine French partner later. One Guestier was such a good negotiator the Bordeaux growers called him "Pierre the Cruel."
Importer—Seagram
Contact—Angela Freire, (707) 942-3300, FAX (707) 942-3469
Price—A good deal--$8!


Postscript—In the Food Mood

Author Jack Mingo offers this advice. "Gamay is a good 'compromise' wine if everyone at the table has ordered something different and you're too cheap to order two or three different wines."

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 


This page created May 2000

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