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Chehalem Ridgecrest Vineyards Gamay Noir 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Ribbon Ridge is a regular span of uplifted, marine, sedimentary soils (called Willakenzie), whose highest ridge elevations twist like a ribbon. An early settler from Missouri named Colby Carter noticed this unique topography and gave the region its name in 1865—though but it wasn’t declared its own AVA until 140 years later, in 2005. The AVA is enclosed by mountains on all sides between Yamhill-Carlton and the Chehalem Mountains, and is actually part of the larger Chehalem Mountains AVA. Its soils have a finer texture than its neighbors with parent materials composed of sandstone, siltstone, and mudstone. Given its presence of natural aquifers in this five square mile area, most vineyards are actually easily dry farmed!
Delightfully playful, yet at its best capable of impressive gravitas, Gamay is responsible for juicy, berry-packed wines from Beaujolais and parts of the Loire Valley. While it has received some criticism for its role in Beaujolais Nouveau—a decidedly young, charming and fruit-driven wine—the Gamay grape is very capable of producing serious wines. The variety is also widely planted in Savoie, Valle d'Aosta and Switzerland, and has recently found success on a small but growing scale in Oregon.
In the Glass
In its simplest form as Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine released just a couple of months after harvest, Gamay is fresh and full of cranberry and cherry candy flavors. But Gamay is capable of much more. The region of Beaujolais is divided into Villages and Crus, where granite-rich soils and conditions are perfect for Gamay. The Villages and Crus wines, given more time on the vine and in the winery, are capable of improving with age and offer dark blackberry or ripe cherry flavors with enticing aromas of baking spice, violets and dark wet earth.
Gamay is delicious on its own; the simpler bottling can even benefit from a light chill before serving. It is the quintessential picnic red and goes well with simple charcuterie, country pâté and terrines. Gentle tannins and bright acidity make it a great option with Asian food, even dishes with a bit of spice. Gamay is also great with poultry, especially duck or Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce.
Within Beaujolais, there are ten different Crus, or highly ranked grape-growing communes. Each one has its own distinct personality—Fleurie is delicate and floral, Côte de Brouilly is concentrated and elegant and Morgon is serious, structured, and age-worthy, capable of rivaling some red Burgundies.