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Gamay's oft-quoted denunciation by the Burgundian Duke Phillip the Bold, who in the year 1395 ordered it banned from the vineyards of the Cote d'Or, has stained its character in the eyes of subsequent generations of wine lovers. Yet even the most fair-minded admit that Gamay is hardly a classic. It owes its place in this survey to the fact that it makes Beaujolais, one of the most widely known (if not always widely drunk) light red wines in the world.

Gamay is rich in ripe fruit aromas and flavours. If the winemaking method traditional (and still current) in Beaujolais, maceration carbonicfue, is used, Gamay wine keeps this simple, direct, fruity character. In wine made from Gamay, it is the grape which is dominant in the mix of factors. True, there are carefully defined crus in Beaujolais, each with its terroir, and they can be distinguished, but their use of Gamay gives them more in common than their subtleties differentiate them.

Gamay is also grown in the Loire Valley and in a few vineyards in central France, and outside France is found on any scale only in California. Here, confusion over names (there is a "Gamay Beaujolais" which is no such thing) makes it difficult to discover whether actual Gamay is being grown.

Gamay wine is not long-lived, the exception being cru Beaujolais in outstanding vintages.

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