This time of year brings thoughts of Vendage and the grape harvest in Beaujolais in the Burgundian vineyards of France. While the celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau has lost its’ lustre as a marketing juggernaut it still remains the most famous celebration of grape picking and early fermentation in the world.
The grape in question is Gamay and in Burgundy the top Beaujolais are represented by 10 “Crus” “or designated wine growing regions. Each one has a distinctive character based on its’s terroir and the skills and stylistic intentions of the winemakers.
The Niagara wine region in Ontario in its own young grape growing history has always cultivated the grapes of Burgundy: Chardonnay, Aligote, Pinot Noir and Gamay.
I thought it would be interesting to compare a locally grown Gamay from our wine list with the best: A Cru Beaujolais. In this case I chose as our candidates for a blind tasting comparison a Gamay from Malivoire in Niagara and a Cru Beaujolais- a Brouilly from the “King of Beaujolais” winemaker Georges Dubouef.
I drafted my Saturday night serving crew for the tasting.
I chose a Brouilly as my Beaujolais example because it is somewhere in the middle of the 10 Crus in terms of body, power and flavour.
The typical flavour profile of a Cru Beaujolais is this:
Light to medium bodied, fragrant, nose of cranberries, raspberries, and violets with a touch of that unmistakeable Burgundian earthy nose.
Well in terms of preferences the taste contest turned out to be a tie.
My preference was actually the Brouilly-a bit denser, and darker but the mere fact that a Niagara Gamay held its’ own against a Beaujolais Cru is worth noting.
Also the bottle of Malivoire was 3 dollars cheaper ($15.00) than the Brouilly .
Do not be afraid to chill your Gamay or Beaujolais for 20 minutes to bring out the flavours.
Follow this link for more information about Cru Beaujolais.