It can be a whim or a wallop that can have an impact on the international wine world and what you are drinking in your glass at home.
Whims are as much a part of wine today as ever before with marketers and smart winemakers chasing younger demographics with snappy packaging, inventive packaging, and in hot pursuit of the millennial palate.
Do those young wine drinkers want a sweeter, more fruit-forward taste? Maybe the hipster generation just wants sometime different – a new grape from a new region?
A few recent notes out of Oregon suggest a whim that might prove a powerful one for those bold enough to change. Oregon is all about pinot noir and they do it really, really well. The vineyard numbers are something like 80-90 percent committed to pinot.
But there are a handful of estates producing Gamay Noir. Gamay, you may recall is the great grape of the French Beaujolais wines. You may also recall it’s the ‘not so great grape” of those wines. No grape takes a bigger rap than Gamay and that’s mostly because of the seasonal Beaujolais Nouveau. Nouveau is harvested, bottled, and sold. It was a marketing ploy that worked about bringing the freshest vintage to market but simply was never very good.
Fortunately, there have been efforts in recent years to highlight the Beaujolais Grand Cru wines. These wines are specific to terroir, aged and very affordable. Nice Gamay wine is lighter on the palate, like pinot. Gamay has a distinguishable fruit palate, like Pinot. Gamay wines are indeed something new to the vast majority of U.S. wine consumers.
There are a few other pockets of Gamay around. I tasted Gamay at a couple of spots in upper state Michigan in recent years. I recall Chateau Grand Traverse offering a very nice Gamay Noir for less than $20.
WillaKenzie and Brick House are two Oregon producers getting ink for their Gamay efforts.
The wines aren’t going to be easy to find in nearby markets, with the possible exception of Michigan Gamay in Northern Indiana shops perhaps. But Gamay is a good thought to store in the cellar of your mind as something worthy to try and to share with friends,
The bit wallop hitting the wine world is climate change. Syrah in Burgundy? That’s for the next Grape Sense,