Let’s start by assuming that Chardonnay is the Mom and Merlot is the Dad. Further to that theme, I’m suggesting that Gamay is the hipster nephew who can’t stop bragging about his latest art installation. Gamay is unique and sometimes quirky, yet fascinating at the same time. Yes, Gamay is part of the international vino-family. Yet it often gets hidden in France amongst Bordeaux, Chablis and Cotes du Rhone. Enter: Beaujolais. A small region just south of Burgundy, Beaujolais is known for its 100% Gamay wines. Still not ringing any bells? Well how about Morgan, Fleurie or Moulin-A-Vent. They’re all style and quality variations on the same thing: Gamay.
A typical (and yes I’ll say it, basic) Gamay expresses raspberry, pomegranate and violet with high acidity to balance. Yet at a recent lunch and learn seminar by Beaujolais Wines, I tasted through 8 different Beaujolais, each with a distinct flavour, style and food pairing composition.
We were presented with one dish and two wines and our goal was to determine which one paired better. Same grape, different style, it was eye opening!
Round 1 Beaujolais Jean-Paul Brun Domaine Des Terres Dorées, L’ancien 2016 vs. Fleurie (aka higher quality Cru) Villa Ponciago, La Reserve 2014
And the winner is: the L’ancien! Paired with salmon sashimi with spicy green tomato, the leaf and kirsch of the Fleurie didn’t balance as well. While the Fleurie was elegant and refined, the brightness and tart raspberry flavours of the L’Ancien won me over with this dish.
Round 2 Beaujolais Villages (aka mid-range quality) Louis Jadot, Combe Aux Jacques 2016 vs. Chenas (another higher quality Cru) Pascal Aufranc 2014
Look away plant-based foodies, this Cured Elk and Smoked Eggs Mousse was next level. It needed the boldness of the Chenas to stand up to it. The Chenas had dark and toasty spice with plum and dark fruit flavours with more structured tannins. Whereas the Beaujolais Villages (while gorgeous) was more floral and perfumed. Its high acidity balanced well with the mousse but the composition wasn’t meant for this pairing.
Round 3 Brouilly Chateau de Pierre 2016 vs Morgon Mathieu & Camille Lapierre 2016 (both equal high quality Cru’s)
Pork Masala with rice and seasonal veg. I could have eaten this entire dish, except it was served family style and that would have been embarrassing. Nonetheless, it paired better with the Brouilly which had rich layers. It was soft and fragrant, smooth and juicy. It could keep another 10 years if you had the patience. The Morgon didn’t have the extraction of flavour on the length to hold up to the main dish. I would easily drink this on its own though, glass after glass. Fabulous purity and minerality.
Round 4 Chiroubles Steeve Charvet 2015 vs. Moulin-a-Vent Lucien Lardy, Les Thorins 2015 (another tete a tete high quality Cru battle)
I couldn’t eat the Pear fritter dessert (gluten-free girl over here) so both wines win this battle! The Chiroubles was feminine and floral with dominant raspberry and plum flavours. Juicy and concentrated. The Moulin-a-Vent had more preserved fruit flavours, cherry pie, red licorice but dry on the palate which was surprising! Thoroughly enjoyable.
A round of applause to Anthony Collet from Beaujolais Wines for leading our group through this thought provoking seminar. And to Townhall Brands for organizing and including me in the invitation. I had such a blast and learned so much, plus I got to eat amazing food from TUC Craft Kitchen!
Finally, a massive thank you to Angel from Also There’s This for providing all of these amazing photos of our experience that day.