April 17th, 2023Wine notes
with Clive Hartley
Gambling on gamay
Some of the first gamay vines were planted in Australia by Len Evans in 1976 at his aptly named home,
Loggerheads. I remember driving past the vines on the way to see him and questioning his sanity.
“You obviously don’t have vision,” was his tart reply.
However, I reckon the Hunter Valley is a tad warm for gamay and it is better suited to our cool climate region.
Lyons Will Estate definitely think so as they have just increased their plantings, and now boast of having the most comprehensive array of gamay clones in Australia. Owners Ollie Rapson and Renata Morello have joined forces with KC Vines and Rootstocks of Mildura and are trialling seven new clones.
They planted their first gamay vines in 2014 and started production in 2017
of this early ripening variety. In my books it is not much of a gamble. The grape is
renowned for producing beaujolais in France and it has been a sweet-heart varietal
in Australian sommelier circles for a while.
Styles vary from light and fruity to more serious pinot-like wines given oak
treatment. Grapes often undergo what is called a semi-carbonic maceration
whereby the bunches of grapes are placed in a vat and the weight crushes the grapes
at the bottom which then starts to ferment.
This triggers all sorts of reactions including an intracellular fermentation in the
unbroken grapes which makes a softer wine with cherry, kirsch and confectionery
Lyons Will 2022 Gamay has just been released and it’s delicious. Fifty per cent
went through a semi-carbonic maceration with another four weeks on skins and
then it was matured in old French oak.
The resulting wine is full of aromas of cherries with some cinnamon and spice
notes. The light bodied palate has more sweet red fruits with soft tannins, the finish
is pleasantly persistent and long.
* Clive Hartley has just published the 7th edition of his book The Australian Wine Guide
and is running a two-hour master class on the Macedon Ranges featuring 8 local wines on
April 29 and June 3. To purchase a book or tickets go to www.australianwineguide.com.au
Wine notes with Clive Hartley will run regularly in the The Local