Go Gamay Go

Beaujolais at Acadia Restaurant Photos: (DANIEL YAM/WWW.DANIELYAMPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

Beaujolais at Acadia Restaurant
Photos: (DANIEL YAM/WWW.DANIELYAMPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

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It’s the current war cry by the voices of those who know. A plea and a calling to Canadian growers and winemakers to plant and bottle more Gamay Noir. A proclamation in favour of a great grape and one that forges signature wines out of Canadian soils. I am an ardent supporter of and a willing rider on the Gamay bandwagon, in the name of connaitre and savoirkennen and wissen, recognition and understanding.

They are ostensibly all climatically cool, the wine regions of Canada. The Okanagan and Similkameen valleys of British Columbia, the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County of Ontario, the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and Monteregie of Québec. But, it’s not just about the weather anymore. Existentially speaking, Canadian wine is cool.

Gamay is the grape of Beaujolais in east-central France and the principal variety of that immediate geographical neighbour to the south of the world’s most influential and serious of all wine regions, Burgundy. Thin-skinned, low in tannin and often in acidity too, Gamay has for centuries played last fiddle and ugly cousin to Pinot Noir. With the rise of the Beaujolais Cru, that is, red wines made from recognized and identified plots within appellations like Moulin à Vent, Brouilly and Morgon, Gamay has left the orchestra pit and is rapidly gaining solo notoriety. Beaujolais is no longer nouveau. It’s old hat.

While I wait for the #GoGamayGo network to convince our councils, marketing boards and vintners to establish a Canadian Cru system, or at least a comprehensive tasting of Canadian Gamay, I’ll turn my attention to our French forefathers.

Anthony Collet discussing Beaujolais Photos: Daniel Yam/www.danielyamphotography.com)

Anthony Collet discussing Beaujolais

On Wednesday, May 15th, The Beaujolais Wine Council, led by Anthony Collet of Inter Beaujolais and with the assistance of the Siren Group, hosted a wine tasting at Acadia Restaurant. Five ineluctable courses ushered in 12 diverse Beaujolais. The patio luncheon featured Indian, Korean, New Orleans and Portuguese barbecue created by chef Patrick Kriss. Chef’s plates are like holorimes, simple yet complex, parts seemingly unrelated yet bound together by rhyming flavours and techniques. Food crucially matched to Gamay ready to be reckoned with. The least of which made for simple, pleasurable drinking, the best as sang-froid, cellar worthy candidates. Here are the notes.

Beaujolais Wines

Beaujolais Wines

Château Des Jacques Beaujolais Grand Clos de Loyse 2010 (11094399, $19.75) from Louis Jadot holdings in Romanèche is shameless Chardonnay, forwardly fruity and straight on the rocks. From a stainless steel ferment, the Loyse gives off a vinous, tart, pressed gas and Hercynian sedimentary note. Soft white, lithe and airy.  88  @liffordwine

CREOLE SHRIMP, anson mills grits

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Fun 2009 (228155, $10.95, SAQ, 11459482, $14.75) talks turkey, offers a pretenseless picnic of pure Gamay fruit and remains remarkably fresh for a 2009. Puts the FU back into fun against many a challenger. I may be alone in defence of this simple quaff but inveigle against my wine soul if this ‘aint a good deal.  87  @dandurandwines

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages Combe Aux Jacques 2011 (365924, $17.95, SAQ, 365924, $16.70) seems a simple distillation hosting a floating purée of raspberry and cranberry. A sniff of smoldering tree bark keeps it interesting. Nothing to hide from, nor to rush to.  86  @ljadot

Related – A terrific write-up of the event from The Wine Sisters

Acadia Restaurant's Piri Piri Chicken

Acadia Restaurant’s Piri Piri Chicken

 

PIRI PIRI CHICKEN LEG, yogurt

Bouchard Aîné & Fils Beaujolais Superieur 2011 (9431, $11.95) the fresh fruit maker shows some mid-life separation in peppery kick though it’s really quite round. Leads my table mates and I to believe it should be semi-chilled in good ones and over-chilled in less than good vintages.  86

Jacques Dépagneux Morgon Côte Du Puy 2011 (299925, $18.95) is possessed of the appellation’s basic lexical features, that is morphemic, mannish, “spell mmm, aaa child, nnn” linguistics, in smoke, spice and acidity. Goes deeper than non-Cru Beaujolais, if it’s just a bit leaner than when I first tasted it last November. This Gamay speaks in muddy water, beefcake tones now but may not be talking as proud as time goes by. Very good but not quite great example.  89

Domaine Joseph Burrier Saint-Amour Côte de Besset 2009 (11154419, $25.85) confounds by holding out a yes or no answer as to its possible ringer status. Inscrutable Gamay, puckering in dried raisin and cherry, but also sun-dried tomato. Baked, nearly tawny, sullied even. Clearly a child of the searing vintage, hefty and despite the cooked character, it matched quite well with the piquant chicken.  87

Acadia Restaurant's Grilled Eggplant

Acadia Restaurant’s Grilled Eggplant

 

GRILLED EGGPLANT, peanut, coconut & curry condiment

Château De Pierreux Brouilly 2011 (5496, $18.95, SAQ, 10754421, $20.15) is wondrous Gamay, clearly defined by aromas of juicy berries and all things forest. I could enjoy a boatload of this floral Brouilly without ever taking a sip. Further to that it starts out soft, vanilla relaxed, glides in confident refinement then spikes in smoke, tar and heat on the back palate. Could use a chill.  88

Villa Ponciago Fleurie La Réserve 2011 (299917, $21.95) from Champagne house Henriot is the most feminine thus far, expressive of a queen’s terroir, delicate, poignant, pretty. Deserving of a Roy Orbison croon, “ma fleur de lis, je t’aime beaujolais.” Reminds me of blueberry pie, or plum pudding, this PYT, full of aplomb and plume.  89  @WoodmanWines

George DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2010 (122077, $12.95) is a blast from the past, a parson’s project that wants to be juice but really it’s just pink turning red drink. Pink, red, sugar, water…drink. Certainly the most “nouveau” of the lot, this “catch twenty-two” bottle represents everything the region is trying to avoid and diversify away from. I will admit there is a touch of earthy complexity, just enough so to give it a lifeline and value.  85

Acadia Restaurant's Korean Short Rib

Acadia Restaurant’s Korean Short Rib

 

KOREAN SHORT RIB, crispy rice, sesame & chili

Domaine Manoir Du Carra Juliénas 2010 (290981, $19.95) the pearl finally puts some funk into “an otherwise empty room.” Dandy, candied peony, cracking good, cinnamon scented and jammy in Rhôneish behaviour. More structure than most.  Beaujolais’ daughter.  91

Domaine du Vissoux Moulin-à-Vent Les Trois Roches 2010 (11154427, $24.75) from star winemaker Pierres Dorées is the tasting’s prince, handsome, chivalrous, a lady’s man. Black cherry, duck reductive, sweet and musky. Searches for game, digs for truffles, wants to be seen with slow-cooked meat.  88

Domaine Piron-Lameloise Chénas Quartz 2009 (240481, $22.50) the flamboyant and flirtatious one is like a (clears throat) mini Brunello. Cherry, rose, tea, cedar and sandalwood seem so Sangiovese in a Grosso way. Who knew ’09 Beaujolais could seem so Tuscan.  90

DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE, chantilly cream, caramel popcorn

Good to go!

Eight big time value wines

PHOTO: SHOCK, FOTOLIA.COM

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Anyone who has dared to venture into wine stores within a week of Christmas knows that the pickings accelerate quickly from slim to none.

Related – VINTAGES, December 8th, 2012 release

Sure, January will bring new releases, but a paucity of good value wine at any time, let alone late December is tantamount to scandal. Staring forlornly into barren cubicles and languishing in long cash-out lines is no way to go through the holiday season. There will be no excuse for getting caught having to serve sickly-sweet, mass-produced plonk to hopeful party guests. As my friend Bob repeatedly reminds me, “it’s not an option.”

The plenitude on wine shelves over the next four days will make the other 361 pale by comparison. Get out there and stock up on the year’s last wine offer. Here are eight big time values to seek out from the final December release of 2012.

Eight big time value wines

The grape: Viognier

The history: Hails from the Northern Rhône in the wines of Condrieu

The lowdown: Alamos is the high-altitude, value offspring line from Argentina’s Laura (@MalbecLife) Catena

The food match: Mahi-Mahi with Blood Orange, Avocado, and Red Onion Salsa

Alamos Viognier 2011 (507830, $13.95) is pretty fly for a white guy. I get Acacia blossom, nectarine and sweet cream. A Viognier to fool as to its origin and sure it sets out to “do that brand new thing” but this is no wannabe. Huge value from winemaker Felipe Stahlschmidt and brand manager Jimena Turner.  Pleased to tout the value for both its phrenic and copacetic manner.  87

The grape: Grüner Veltliner

The history: White Austrian varietal known for its crisp, bright character

The lowdown: One of the most magnetic white wine producers anywhere

The food match: Potato Rösti, horseradish cream

Domaene Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner 2011 (965368, $13.95) is bar none, the best value in its class. Buffet of exotics; mandarin orange, longan, rambutan. Simmering acidity, no bitter nut, pith or endgame. Not necessarily long, yet satisfying .  88

The grapes: Xarello and Riesling

The history: Traditional varietal from Catalonia, often used in the production of  Cava

The lowdown: Blended with 15% Riesling, the Xarello comes alive

The food match: Seared and Slow Roasted Salmon, crumbled chorizo, salsa verde drizzle

Terraprima White 2011 (303552, $17.95) shows off a pastel but vivid colour, sidled by scents of spring almond tree blossom and autumn arbequina olive. Riesling injection adds more verve in the mouth, indicated by lemon and lime concentrate. Will work all seasons for a Penedes siesta chill.  88

The grape: Chenin Blanc

The history: From dry to sweet, the Loire’s expression of Chenin seems limitless

The lowdown: This one leans far left, sapless, not socialist

The food match: Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup, caramelized apple, spiced pumpkin seeds

Marc Brédif Vouvray 2010 (685362, $19.95) perches high atop a parched, molecular hilltop. Bread starter nip promises stuffed pastry filled with friable, early harvest apples. Wonderful, classic and dehumidified Vouvray.  91

The grapes: Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera

The history: Salice Salentino tends sun-dried, caramelized and sometimes even burnt, but in a good way

The lowdown: Puglia has turned Salice Salentino into an international sensation

The food match: Smoked and Braised Beef Short Rib, dried fruit, carrots, thyme

Leone De Castris Maiana Salice Salentino 2009 (717959, $13.95) is full-bodied like its brethren and definitive of the dark-skinned Negroamaro. Appasimento-like raisin, Amarone quality, peppered by anise and finishing near oxy by sun-ripened tomato, black plums and stewed prunes. If long and slow braised beef convinces it to relax, it will work just fine.  87

The grape: Gamay

The history: From the vineyard of Les Vins Aujoux in the Côte Du Py

The lowdown: Cru Beaujolais, especially from Morgon, can be exhilarating stuff

The food match: Gamay Risotto, candy beets, white truffle oil

Jacques Depagneux Côte De Py Morgon 2011 (299925, $18.95) parlays Gamay in the prettiest purple package. Violaceous, like young and approachable Nebbiolo, or even Montsant. Hawkish and snappy in its play calling with a volcanic, mineral feel that elevates its game. “I’m glad I know you” Beaujolais, from it’s a wonderful life of Py.  89

The grape: Pinot Noir

The history: Unheralded (until now) winemaker Paul Battilana does his best Beaune impression

The history: Burgundy emerges as a limestone-influenced, light-bodied red in Prince Edward County

The food match: Turkey and Cranberry Pie with Sweet Potato Crust

Casa-Dea Pinot Noir 2009 (296210, $19.95) has won me over two years in a row as a top value Pinot Noir, not just in PEC, but in Ontario. Plush ruby robe, expertly extracted though it is so light on its feet. Less earth and clay than cousin Rosehall but this smells exactly as Pinot should. There is a minor note of fromagerie so consider pairing it so.  89

The Splurge

The grape: Petite Sirah

The history: Not to be confused with Syrah, this is the French varietal Durif

The lowdown: There is nothing remotely petite about this grape or this wine. Durif=énorme

The food match: Grilled Venison Loin, blackberry compote

Trentadue La Storia Petite Sirah 2010 (291047, $23.95) is massively concentrated out of the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County, as if it were packed with five centuries of the Italian American experience. Manages 14.9% alcohol with George Bailey-esque, heady grace. Tasted blind I commented, “if this is under $30 it’s an outrageous deal.” “Well whaddya know about that!!!. ” 92

Good to go!