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What is Gamay?

Wine Selectors wine Educator Adam Walls reveals the resurgence of this light bodied red wine. 

The renaissance of Gamay is firmly upon us. This elegant and fragrant grape has become the doyen of sommeliers, winemakers and lovers of lighter bodied reds across the country.


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. 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. 

In Australia

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

One of Australia’s most famed Gamays comes from Sorrenberg in Victoria’s Beechworth, but keep an eye out for others from regions such as the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Tasmania and even Rutherglen.

Did you know?

Gamay was once planted alongside Pinot Noir in Burgundy. This was until the ruling dukes of Burgundy banished the variety, distrustful of its unfamiliar taste and texture. 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.


Gamay shares similar characters to Pinot Noir. Normally lighter rather than deeper in colour, ranging from garnet to purple, it is fragrant with notes of violets, red fruits, 5 spice and sometimes bubble gum. It is lighter bodied with lively acidity and lighter tannins. 

Food matching

With its lighter body, Gamay works with white and red meats and also meatier fish. It’s fabulous with duck or turkey, salmon or tuna or richer examples work with spiced red meat dishes such as tagine.

Published on
4 Mar 2019


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