Lookin' Good at 58

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Carbonic Maceration and the Gamay Grape

When you nose a wine from Beaujolais other than the 10 Beaujolais Crus found in the region you might have noticed a bubble gum , banana aroma to it.

This is due to the fermentation method used for the Gamay grape in the region called carbonic maceration. This technique is also used in some Rhone , and Lanquedoc-Roussillon wines where the grape involved is naturally high in tannin like Carignan and the desire is to make it less tannic and more fruity.

How it works is whole bunches of grapes are emptied into a sealed vat and the weight of the grapes on top starts crushing the grapes at the bottom beginning a natural fermentation releasing carbon dioxide. Eventually the carbon dioxide saturates the entire vat causing the grapes on the top to go through a special kind of internal fermentation giving the wine it's soft characteristic and aromas mentioned above.

This fermentation method is used for Beaujolais wines meant to be drank young and the Gamay grape that is predominantly grown on clay soil. However where the 10 cru beaujolais are grown on granite soil in a small area the wine makers use the traditional method of fermentation and aging in oak barrels to give them some age worthiness.

The 10 crus beaujolais are the following;

Brouilly , Cote de Brouilly , Morgon , Regnie , Chiroubles , Fleurie , Moulin-A-Vent , Chenas , Julienas , and St.-Amour. You can sort of go by the sound of the name to tell which is a lighter cru to the heavier cru. Like Fleurie is one of the lighter crus while Moulin-A-Vent and St.Amour are two more heavier longer aged Beaujolais wines.

Charcuterie is a good match for Beaujolais. Not too much tannin but good acidity is what a Beaujolais wine and the Gamay grape gives you on the palate.

A fun wine to drink , it is light bodied and makes for a good start for the novice red wine drinker.


Manuel said...

I love a bottle of Beaujolais.....slightly chilled in the summer with some lights meats, a book, some swell jazz and the phone switched off.......bliss

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Manuel..oh yeah how good it is and you remind me that it is nice chilled as well. Good point!