The famous Chris and Chris, regulars at The Frisky Oyster, brought in this bottle of wine for me to taste. Whitecliff Vineyard 2007 Gamay Noir, from the Hudson River Valley.
Gamay is, of course, the grape of Beaujolais. It is also widely planted in the Loire Valley, and in Switzerland, where is is mixed with pinot noir, which, according to the Oxford Companion to Wine, “endow[s] the nobler grape with some precocity, but often blur[s] the very distinct attributes of each.”
I tasted it first at the restaurant. It was good, pleasant, easy to drink, but suffered from an astringent finish. However, a few days later, and still open, it is holding up well. It’s blue-red, grapey and brown sugar banana on the nose. Sweet up front, medium + acid, low tannins with a more acid finish, that’s kind of refreshing, as opposed to astringent.
According to the OCW, only a minimal amount of gamay is planted in the New World, notably by Charles Shaw.
(One notable California grower who bothered in the early 1980s to import and vinify true Gamay was Charles F. Shaw, whose name acquired fame only when it had been acquired by Franzia and applied to a trend-setting wine retailed at $1.99 in the early 2000s, known colloquially as Two Buck Chuck.)
I have an e-mail in to Alice Wise, the viticulture specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County in Riverhead. If there’s any gamay on Long Island, she’ll know about it.
I got an e-mail from Alice.
I had a few vines probably 10 yrs ago. The fruit quality was not very distinctive or interesting. In fairness, the vines struggled to fill the trellis and might have been virused. Pindar might have a few vines. I don’t recall seeing them elsewhere.
And now a call to Pindar.