Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On Board With Gamay




“Sam, come here and try these two wines” it was Randy calling me from the tasting room where he was sitting with an importer. He was wearing that Randy grin….the one I had seen a thousand times before, the one that meant one of two things, he was either really excited about the wines or he was trying to test my palate. This was years ago, long before I was the French wine buyer at The Wine Country, but I did have a love for all things French….except for one.

I tasted both wines the importer poured for me, one I loved, a Cabernet Franc from the Loire, the other I hated, also from Loire but made from Gamay. Randy was trying to trick me, it drove him mad that I hated Gamay, he thought it was all in my head, like I didn’t think it was noble or fancy, which I didn’t but the fact of the matter was, they simply tasted like poo to me and I hated them. We would go round and round every Thanksgiving, he telling me it was the best match for the meal and me telling him that I didn’t give a crap because I wasn’t drinking any stoopid Gamay with my meal, no matter how well it paired. We drove each other bonkers for years about this one thing, like he saw this a some giant character flaw or snobby thing about me and I was annoyed that he would not just give up and let me hate them.



On my first trip to France we stayed in Beaujolais for a night, quite frankly it was the dumpiest, nastiest little hovel of a hotel I had ever stayed in, (now that coveted title belongs to the hotel where I stayed in St Emillion….gross) and to top it off, when I opened my window there was a beehive just below it….fantastic, go from drinking Burgundy for six days to a crap hole of a hotel in Beaujolais, where there are bees hunting me AND I have to drink Beaujolais. Let’s just say, that trip did nothing to change my mind.

I was not until last year that I opened up to Beaujolais, we had been in Burgundy for 4 days, tasting nothing but way too young, (2006/2007) Burgundy, it was a grueling schedule, up to 19 appointments in one day. My palate was fried, my teeth were stinging and I had reached my breaking point on super rich food. Never thought I would say it but I was ready to get the hell outta Beaune. Well all that and I was drinking the hotel out of Billecart-Salmon Rose so it was time to move on…..poor little dude at the bar was convinced that I was gonna barf one of those nights, silly man.




We arrived in Beaujolais early in the afternoon, the sun was out but it was still quite chilly, (January) our little troop of tasters filed into the sunroom of the estate we were visiting, and all took a seat. I was less than thrilled but really digging the company, those dudes in Beaujolais like to party. They brought out platter after platter of house cured pork products, and started pouring us their wines, the whole while poking fun at one another and drinking a fair bit themselves, it all just felt so comfortable and convivial. I took a few slabs of Jambon Persille, (Ham and parsley terrine) some saucisson and some bread and prepared myself to taste….the dreaded Gamay.

Those wines, with that food, after days of palate burning young Burgundy, they just made sense, they tasted so fresh, no vibrant and simply delicious. Took me 13 years to get on board but now I find myself even craving a little Beaujolais from time to time, still won’t touch the Nouveau crap, don’t care how festive it is, it’s vile and I aint doin it! Especially when it’s as hot as it is right now, a lightly chilled bottle of Beaujolais or Anjou Gamay with whatever off the grill….heaven.



2005 Pierre-Bise Anjou Gamay ($17.99) More densely packed than Beaujolais this wine leans more towards black fruit with a compelling earthy component, black pepper and flint. The palate is rather full for Gamay and there are a fair amount of grippy tannins on the finish…red meat, think red meat.



2007 Lapierre Morgon ($21.99) Hands-down my favorite Beaujolais almost every year, even back when I didn’t like em’! Wild strawberries, cranberries and spice. Light in the mouth, ultra refreshing with a snappy, crisp, nervy finish. Pretty enough to pair nicely with everything from meat to fish…or you can do as I do, just suck it up.



2005 Olivier Merlin Fleurie ($24.99) Such a delicate Beaujolais, loaded with violets and spice, the palate has pretty, tart, red fruit and more spice but the finish is floral as all get out. My go to wine for summer sipping along with thin slices of cured meat and gooey, pungent cheeses.

21 comments:

Benito said...

One of my little wine goals is to finish tasting all ten cru Beaujolais. I've made it through six so far, and every time I walk in a new wine shop I check for Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte-de-Brouilly, and Juliénas.

I'm glad you were able to go back and give these a second chance--Gamay-based wines are so great with food, and so affordable.

Cheers,
Benito

Samantha Dugan said...

Benito,
I have been lucky enough to taste all the Crus, still think Morgon is my favorite...really kind of wild and sexy about them. A couple of years ago I had one from a producer I had never heard of, (I was in France at the time...so probably drunk) it was 15 years old, a magnum and I would have bet my ass that it was Burgundy...that was the first Gamay I found delicious but I thought it was a flook, now I just love them.

K Claret said...

sam-

I always thought that Gamay was.....ok. I never bought a bottle to drink at home and have never seen bottles from producers you mentioned. I have had a lot of beaujoulais but just all the duboeuf stuff. I will definitley be on the look out for the better producers. Cheers!

kevin

David McDuff said...

Glad to hear you've seen the light, Sam. I consider myself fortunate to have been enlightened to the pleasures of Gamay -- and Beaujolais specifically -- through the wines of really solid producers like Pierre-Marie Chermett and Thierry Descombes (not the famous Descombes).

Now, if it weren't for the Loire (and Burgundy and Champagne and the Mosel...), I sometimes think I could be happy drinking Beaujolais just about every night. The best wines are so transparent and so food friendly that they're just a joy to drink.

David McDuff said...

Oops, make that Pierre-Marie Chermette.

Samantha Dugan said...

Kevin,
Find someone in your area that has a bunch of Kermit Lynch imports and you should be able to find some truly delicious Beaujolais, might just...(as it did with me) change your mind!

Daivd,
I love those Vissoux wines, soft and silky but with great acidity...you tried the Rose yet? So fun, tart and snappy but fun.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Sam,

I, too, have been lucky enough to try all the crus. I particularly enjoyed Penelope. Tom, on the other hand, well, he's one bone short of a Porterhouse.

What I wouldn't have given to be drinking Billecart-Salmon with you in France. Or anywhere else. Or any thing else. Shucks, it's just you I want.

I know. Get in line.

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron,
Get in line? Really?! You know what, that's perfect, just perfect. You know what now there is a line, and why don't you take that comment with you on the way to the back of it.
Thanks as always for posting....

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Sam,

Not sure where that came from?! WTF? Feeling a little under the weather today? Probably that crappy Beaujolais you're drinking on the job.

Sheesh, if I get in line behind Benito and your other sycophants I won't be able to see the sun...hell of a herd you got there.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron,
You know..it is an impressive bunch of men, none of which have even sniffed in my direction...no, just one hose swinging guy way in the back as ever crossed the line with me.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Sam,

I hesitate to correct such a talented scribe, but wouldn't the proper verb be "snort" instead of sniff? Hope I'm not downwind of all this...

Man, you turned on me like a pit bull with 'roid rage. Hope you had your shots, and I don't mean vodka.

Ron

David McDuff said...

you tried the Rose yet?

Nope, but it's on my shopping list.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron,
Trust me no matter the proper verbage...you are WAY down wind. I've had many shots, I prefer Tequila...but not to worry, I won't be putting my mouth anywhere near you.

Thomas Pellechia said...

My order of prefs:

Moulin A Vint! (Did I spell it right?)

Morgon

Fleurie

Chenas

Chiroubles

and the rest of 'em.

Benito,

Juliennas is quite oddly fruity. My last on the list.

Samantha Dugan said...

David,
Try and get your hands on a bottle, really delicious and one of the driest Roses I have had this season. It has this really cool earthiness that is unexpected but tasty as hell.

Thomas,
Welcome back! I have to agree with you on the Julienas, always reminds me of that game, "which one of these is NOT like the others".

Thomas Pellechia said...

Sam,

Didn't know I had departed.

So, it's Moulin a Vent! Knew it didn't look right the other way.

The Beau. Crus can truly age gracefully, and they are a delight when they take on their regional sister grape's velvetiness, if there is such a word.

I've got to get up from the computer now and go refill my wine bra.

Many years ago, between careers, I drove a taxi in NYCity. I drove at night. Before my shift, I filled a Spanish wine sack and sipped on it throughout the night. It was always empty at the end of the shift and I was always able to sleep until noon the next day...but I could have used the bra or belly thing, as the wine sack had to be lifted over one's head and then squirted into one's mouth--ever try doing that while taxiing a couple who are shooting up in the back seat? Complicated affair, it is.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
As it was only your second tifme posting I wanted to greet you once again. Diving a cab in NYC, you must have some wicked stories...

Nancy Deprez said...

I will drink Gamay if you give me some of that delicious-looking ham-parsley pate looking thing - mmmm!

Samantha Dugan said...

Nancy,
I made that dish last Christmas for a beloved friend that LOVES it...will NOT be doing that crap again, a true labor of love to say the very least. The only upside was that he loved it and was a chef so understood what it took to make....me standing in the kitchen at 2 in the morning begging the blasted thing to take in more liquid...argh! Was tasty though!

Nancy Deprez said...

You MADE that ham parsley pate looking thing? Wow!!! Impressed is me. I've always wanted to make pate, or a loaf like that, I don't know, something about that loaf shaped charcuterie that just makes me happy.

Samantha Dugan said...

Nancy,
I have made it, that picture is NOT of mine but I did take pictures of it, what a freaking nightmare that was...the picture with the veal foot sticking out of the pot, painful reminder of what making that was like. I'm making it sound horrific but it felt good to do it, and making it for someone you love because they love it, well that was pretty cool....not making it again mind you, but I'm glad I did it. I do loves me some potted meats so long as thy contain no "filter" bits, blech.