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Domaine les Poete Le Gamay 2011
Guillaume comes from a family of viticulturalists and his father had vineyards in Quincy and Reuilly, but after it became apparent that his sons had no interest in continuuing the family domaine, he sold the vineyards in 2001. It was during this time that Guillaume was working in some of France’s finest restaurants both as a cook and a sommelier, but eventually he says “the soul of a winemaker awoke in me”. He went to Beaune to study viticulture and oenology determined to return to the Loire valley and piece together a domaine of his own.
In 2007 after completing his studies he began to look for vineyards and soon found a plot of very old gamay vines on the right bank of the Cher river. He began here and has slowly patched together a tiny domaine today of more than 25 single plots that he farms himself biodynamically. Only 4.5 hectares total are put into production here so quantities are extremely small.
Precision, freshness, and delicacy are the pursuit here and Guillaume believes that terroir is the most important thing, often citing his motto 'moins mais mieux' – 'less but better".
Stretching east along the steep banks of the Loire River, Touraine is a major part of the Middle Loire. Soil variations of clay, sand, tuffeau and gravel throughout its subregions support both white and red varieties. Chinon and Bourgueil remain the source of Loire’s finest Cabernet Franc; various styles of the most outstanding Chenin blanc come from Vouvray and Montlouis.
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.