Week 47 – Gamay

We tasted: Beaujolais Nouveau 2018, Marks and Spencer, £8

Tasting Notes

Emma says: “I couldn’t help but smile when we opened the bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. There is something about this type of wine that spells pure joy to me.

Plus it is a great for beginners to learn how to start describing wines. It is bursting with aroma and flavour that have lots of characters reminiscent of childhood. People often note a bubblegum character to the aroma and it also has a good burst of cherry fruit flavour, almost like cherry cola. Nouveau style wines are definitely not on the complex spectrum of the styles made from Gamay, but I would put them firmly in the crowd pleaser category.

We tasted Beaujolais Nouveau for our wine, Andy was cross with me all week when he realised I scheduled our tasting a week later than Beaujolais Nouveau day. My excuse is that we normally taste on a Tuesday or Wednesday and given the first legal day to drink it was Thursday then we’d be breaking the law in the name of 52 Grapes.

The 2018 vintage is being heralded as pretty special with lots of ripe juicy grapes due to the warm summer. And having tasted this wine on many good and bad years I can attest that this is a great year to be drinking it Nouveau. It is ripe succulent and tasty.

A few of you might want to know what Nouveau means. It is basically a wine where the grapes have just been picked, quickly made into wine and released just as soon as it is deemed ready to drink, about two months later. It also has a special method used on it called carbonic maceration that I described in our glossary of terms. Basically the tank of grapes is sealed shut rather than left open as it ferments, plus it contains whole rather than crushed grapes. This enables the grape to start to ferment inside its skin and gently explode as the pressure in the tank rises from the growing carbon dioxide gas. This process extracts a very soft form of tannin from the grape which is why it is so delicate and also builds all the vibrant cherry-ade aroma and flavour. The reason it is mean to be drunk young is that those characters fade quickly and then the wine becomes dull. So drink up – this wine isn’t one for the cellar.”

Andy says: “I remember quite liking Beaujolais Nouveau last year, so was quite looking forward to this week. I wasn’t disappointed.

The aroma hit me like a (very small) train. ‘I know that smell! It’s, umm, oh damn what is it?’. I just couldn’t think oh what the very distinctive smell was, but eventually it came to me. It was the cough sweets, Cherry Tunes, complete with a hint of menthol, too. I was always a big fan of those, so instantly liked the wine.

Taste wise, there wasn’t much for me. Emma notes a cherry cola taste, but she doesn’t drink Coke, so I think she’s lying. I however do, and didn’t get that at all. Tannin wise, there was next to nothing. This is a very easy drinking red wine, and I think you should try it.”

Buying Guide

Gamay is the grape that makes the more famous wine Beaujolais, which comes from the Burgundy region of France. We are trying it just after Beaujolais Nouveau week. That is the first week that the latest vintage of wine is legally allowed to be sold. The wine only finished fermenting a few weeks before. Gamay perfectly suits that because it is fruity and upfront making it a pleasure to drink young. We will be seeking out a “Nouveau” but may try one of the posher villages like Fleurie or Morgon that are also made from this grape and have a bit more age.


3 thoughts to “Week 47 – Gamay”

  1. Wine – Chateau de Pizay Beaujolais Villages 2017 (Le Bon Vin £13)

    I missed the boat on the Beaujolais Nouveau, but tried to get as close as I could with this wine.

    The colour was quite light and bright.

    The wine was very soft and fruity, with surprisingly rich red stone fruits dominating along with a touch of pepper and mint. There was also a subtle aftertaste of decomposing leaves, which was quite pleasant.

    The wine was also light and slightly sweet, it reminded me of a Pinot Noir. It had very low tannins, with a slightly meaty, gamey flavour which I quite liked.

    Overall, this was a nice wine if nothing special, but I must make it a priority to pre-order some Beaujolais Nouveau next year, which for whatever reason is a wine I have never tried.

  2. I know it’s got a bit of a bad rep, but I found rediscovering Beaujolais Nouveau really enjoyable. There’s something frivolous about it that just makes it great fun to drink. It is very drinkable and I had to take care not to guzzle the bottle.

    I tried a bottle of Signe Vignerons Beaujolais Nouveau 2018 from Waitrose (£7.99). It was a vibrant pale purple and when I sniffed it I was whisked away to a fantasy sweet shop. Raspberry coulis, cherryade, rhubarb and blackcurrant, violets, hints of banana skin and menthol.

    It was seriously juicy to taste, vivid and as youthful as expected. Easy, light and delicate with that cherryade vibe throughout. Andy is absolutely 100% bullseye spot-on with the cherry Tunes cough sweets. It was dry and there was a just a little tannic dryness on the gums. As expected, there wasn’t any great complexity, but there was a surprisingly medium length given the style. Jolly drinking.

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