This humble hashtag, coined years ago by Canada's own Dr. Janet Dorozynski, has united gamay fans globally and become a rallying collective for a misunderstood red grape. Gamay isn't geeky anymore, long-shackled to the marketing mechanics of Beaujolais Nouveau. Instead, this characterful light red is now one of the cool kids, grown confidently from Beaujolais to BC, Niagara to New Zealand, Stellenbosch to Saumur, and California to Chile (and beyond).
In the wake of big, dark, richer reds, gamay's appeal comes via its fresh acidity, fragrant fruitiness, fine tannins and lissom structure. Its full name, Gamay Noir à jus Blanc, reflects that its skin is black, its juice is white, but the wine produced is a light-bodied red.
Gamay has emerged as one of Canada's top red grapes, worthy of championing. From effortlessly smashable, chillable reds to structural, age-worthy, Cru-carved wines, gamay suits various tastes and terroirs. The styles from coast to coast are as wide as the nation itself, including sparkling and rosé. BC's inherent freshness and luminosity create a rounder, perfumed, and typically riper style, while Ontario gamays tend toward a tighter, edgy, herbal leafiness. The sporadic Nova Scotian ones we see are crisp, linear, and precise. The top producers (Bachelder, Malivoire, Bella, etc.) could quickly fill this list themselves. In all, we've tasted more than 50 Canadian gamay over the past year (use the advanced search function to see all the notes), and it's a national grape I'm always on the hunt for.
Here are our Top 10 Canadian Gamays, recently tasted.