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What is Gamay?

What is Gamay?

Gamay is the red grape behind the famed wines of Beaujolais which sits to the south of Burgundy and to the north of the Rhone Valley. In France, it is also grown in the Loire Valley where it is often used to make Rosé.

So, what style of wine is Gamay? It makes light bodied, fresh and crunchy red wines with very similar flavours to that of Pinot Noir. It’s also similar to Pinot in the fact that it thrives in Australia’s cooler climate regions such as the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and Victoria’s Great Western.

Right now, Gamay is squarely in the spotlight and is being poured at more wine bars and restaurants around the country than ever before. Its reputation has really benefited from the increase in popularity of lighter bodied red wines. 

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Gamay infographic on how to pronounce and history of Gamay

Gamay’s full name is Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc and it can be a very seductive red wine.

Gamay infographic where does it grow and what wine is it similar to

In Australia, it thrives in cool climates only, including Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and Beechworth

Gamay infographic food pairings with Gamay

Gamay pairs with a picnic or lunch spreads including meat and cheese plates, roast chicken and pâté. 

Gamay infographic cellaring time for Gamay

Gamay can be cellared up to five years. 

Gamay infographic body and profile of the wine

Did you know that Gamay has lighter-weight profile?

Gamay infographic other wine varieties similar to Gamay

Gamay origins lie in France and it is similar in style to Pinot Noir.



Gamay is a red grape variety that hails from France. In the Loire Valley it is used to make Rosé. In both the Loire and Burgundy, it is blended with Pinot Noir to make light, fresh reds. Today, the only wines (red and Rosé) from Burgundy that are legally allowed to include Gamay are sold under the label of Bourgogne Passe-tout-grains.

However, Beaujolais, just north of the city of Lyon, is the French region with which Gamay is intrinsically linked. Ten villages, or Crus, bear the Beaujolais name. Villages such as Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent and Fleurie are the jewels in the region’s crown and their wines are helping to feed the rising interest in Gamay from Beaujolais and afar. 



Original plantings of Gamay occurred in Australia in the 70s and 80s. It was first believed to be planted in the Hunter Valley by Len Evans in 1976, where it still thrives today. Other pioneers include Sorrenberg in Beechworth, Bass Phillip in Gippsland and Eldridge Estate in Mornington Peninsula. However, it can now be found in the cool climates of Tasmania, Adelaide Hills and the Yarra Valley, as well as the Granite Belt. The past decade has seen “young gun” winemakers producing fresh, bright, juicy, fruit-forward wines, whilst others pursue more serious wines with structure, finesse and elegance.     



Gamay is an ancient varietal related to the Pinot Noir grape, so it’s a given that Pinot drinkers will also enjoy the characters of this lighter bodied red. Normally lighter rather than deeper in colour, ranging from garnet to purple, it is fragrant with notes of violets, red fruits, five spice and sometimes bubble gum. It is lighter bodied with lively acidity and lighter tannins. 

Don’t be afraid to chill it in the warmer summer months

- Trent Mannell, Tasting Panellist



Gamay should only be cellared in the short-term – up to five years. Always check the bottle label as lighter bodied reds, like Gamay, are generally produced to enjoy while young. 



The aromatics of Gamay positively burst out of the glass with immediate hedonistic appeal. It’s a joyous combination of youthful fruit like strawberries, raspberries, cherries, cranberry, with floral notes of violets and an earthy spice.

Gamay is a crowd pleaser that is versatile with food. Lightly chill for a summer picnic with friends, serve with a delicious charcuterie plate, crack a bottle with pizza, pork sausages or, pour it at your dinner party with roast chicken or baked salmon.  

For a quick look at what pairs with Gamay check out these tasty dishes and recipes.

Step out of your comfort zone and try a glass of Gamay today. It’s such a delicious wine that very much suits our Australian lifestyle, and it has a huge future here. 

Published on
5 May 2023


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