Last night I was fortunate to fall into a Tweetup #gamay11 on gamay. That’s something unusual because like pinotage there is only about twenty tonnes of it grown in Australia.
Brisbane’s very premier ecco Wine Bar was the venue serving a great plate of salumi and cheese exotica as the gamay from Eldridge Estate were poured.
Now I gave up gamay in the late 80s when I worked out that Beaujolais nouveau were just a wank: and that no, this form of gamay was not a very exciting drink.
At the same time many Australians thought likewise as pinot noir grown in the colder areas took a grip on this part of the market-the easy drinking lighter style of red with absolutely decent texture.
So then gamay could no longer complete. Pinot is easily bottled within a year of production and looks really good drunk young, and often chilled.
An underdone gamay drunk straight after fermentation with high unsoftened acidity, and only on a seasonal basis, again when the wine looks and tastes unfinished is not a good look against sophisticated or lower priced pinot.
Time passed until these delicious gamays from David and Wendy Lloyd of Eldridge Estate emerged yesterday. They have character, attitude, aromatic quality but still the essential palate softness that separates gamay from pinot.
Eldridge Estate Gamay 2008 (+++); 13.1%, USD 35, is gamey, now quite forward and funk-driven, on the palate slurpy, mature and soft as, acidity being the finishing flavour, a good drink yet reflecting the effects of the heat and bushfire season during its growth.
Eldridge Estate Gamay 2009 (++++); 13.7%, USD 35, is nose opulent, sexy, prolific sweet aromas and tight oak char, a very complete wine now at its zenith, ready to be consumed with some crunchy frogs or more inviting morsels such as prosciutto or bresaola.
Eldridge Estate Experimental Gamay 2010 whole berry (+++); 13.5%, USD 25 for 500 ml, smells of a standard gamay wine, bright and fruity, soft and drinkable.
Eldridge Estate Experimental Gamay 2010 whole bunch (++++); 13.5%, USD 25 for 500 ml, smells decent, lots of attitude, confection from the whole bunch ferment, importantly the palate is layered and textured and oh so wonderful to experience, delightful wine, also tied around some expensive but delicately applied oak.
Eldridge Estate Experimental Gamay Pinot PTG 2010 (++++1/2); 13.5%, USD 25 for 500 ml, has elevated fruit aromas, spice, violets, lots of flavour to boot, importantly the sweet fruit of pinot holds up the gamay palate to round the wine off; most impressive.
I cannot but reflect that the answer to this experimental set of wines is to blend them together as components-ending up with one very smart wine. It’s just the process of making gamay, and pinot.
The other additional winemaking X-factor is carbonic maceration; the process of whole destemmed berries or berries on bunches fermenting as a whole, producing the candy and flowery aromas not found in the traditional ferment process. This separates the wine from other varieties with an extra level of “prettiness”.
And of course a high level of whole bunches is standard process in good pinot making ferments.
This series of gamay wines tells us why we should continue to say no to Beaujolais and drink something more interesting.
So now I must rescind my membership to Les Companions du Beaujolais for being a heretic, and think more like an Australian. Sacre bleu.
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