Go for Gamay
Now that we're safely into spring, it's time to lighten up a bit; shed some layers, stretch it out and maybe opt for some lighter options. One of our favourite year-round “go to's” for reds is Gamay. As the main grape of Beaujolais, Gamay's suffered a bit of a bad rap, as a sweet, frivolously light wine without any real complexity or nuance. As far as we're concerned, nothing could be further from the truth; sure those Beaujolais Nouveau's will not do very much to prove us wrong, but the real gems, those thoughtful, age worthy wines of Beaujolias Cru, are intriguing, enjoyable, food friendly – and best of all, incredibly value driven, often coming in at less than $20 a bottle.
Probably one of Ontario wine country's best kept secrets is that we truly make some outstanding Gamays that range in styles from earthy, savoury and rustic, to light, fruity, crowd pleasers – and usually at a fraction of what our other top-performing lighter red, Pinot Noir costs.
If Gamay hasn't made its way to your dinner table as of late, may we suggest you give it another try. Exceptionally food friendly with flavours of berry fruit, earth and spice with low tannins and elevated acidity, it can be a wonderful pairing with everything from baked ham to barbecued sausages, roast turkey to grilled fish.
Here are a few bottles we recommend for stocking your spring cellars.
Cave Spring Gamay
VQA Niagara Peninsula 2010 $14.95
Soft and feminine with bright red berries and crushed black pepper spice. Mid-weight with low tannin, this makes for an easy afternoon sipper with a charcuterie plate or on its own.
Malivoire " M2 Small Lot" Gamay
VQA Niagara Escarpment 2011 $19.95
Upfront berry fruit, baking spice with a touch of uplifting mint/rosemary herbaciousness. Mid-weight with lively acidity and a tart cran-cherry finish. Serve this with spicy grilled sausage or steak frites.
Henry of Pelham Gamay
VQA Short Hills Bench 2010 $14.95
A more powerful example of Gamay with a juicy, spicy palate filled with flavours of red and black cherry, crushed pepper and cedar. Serve this slightly chilled with barbecued ribs or rare ahi tuna.
Casa Dea "Dea's Rose" Sparkling Gamay
VQA Prince Edward County 2011 $19.95
A fun and frothy bubbly made from 100% Gamay grapes. Ripe, juicy strawberry with a hint of earthy minerality. This is a crisp, dry sparkler made for warm weather celebrations and as a lovely pairing with frito misto, baked ham or roast chicken.
Erin & Courtney Henderson are The Wine Sisters, specializing in custom wine events and tours. Visit them online at thewinesisters.com