WHAT TO DRINK...
This month, Richard Hemming takes a look at the Gamay grape variety
In an English summer, three things are certain: it will rain during Wimbledon fortnight, kids constantly want ice cream and most adults switch from red to white wine. And yes, those things are probably related.
But red wine can be just as refreshing and thirstquenching as white wine in hot weather – especially lighter styles. And as usual, France has the perfect solution to this vinous problem.
Gamay may not be a well-known grape variety, but it’s the sole ingredient of one of France’s most famous reds – Beaujolais-Villages. This is the quintessential light-bodied red, and as such it makes for an ideal summer quaffer. In fact, it is one of the few red wines that you can drink lightly chilled.
This is because it’s made to be low in tannin and reasonably high in acidity – as with most white wines. Gamay typically has ripe black fruit flavours such as blackcurrant or black cherry, often with a bit of light spice and violet aroma.
Not all Gamay is light and chillable, however. Recently, Beaujolais has become increasingly fashionable, thanks to a movement of ambitious producers who are making heavier, more complex and more age-worthy reds. These tend to be from specific villages within the Beaujolais-Villages appellation – for example, Fleurie, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent.
A little Gamay is also grown in the Loire too, but the majority of it resides in Beaujolais. Here are some recommendations to try, whatever the weather!