March: A Gamay from the Finger Lakes

Want to know the best part of starting a blog? You meet a lot of really great people online who share your interests. Some of those people even become friends! One of my online wine friends, Joaquin Prieto (@wino_dino_), enjoys all types of wine but his passion is the Finger Lakes (FLX). Not only does he love their wine, he encourages everyone try it!

Well, he finally broke me.

You guys know how much I love and cherish Beaujolais, the region most famous for Gamay, but I also said I was going to try more new world wines. With Joaquin on my heels and a resolution to upload, I looked north to FLX and took their Gamay for a spin.

You can check out our notes below. That's right—the FLX expert himself weighed in, too!

March: Sheldrake Point Gamay Noir 2016

Sheldrake Point Winery grows nine varieties of grapes on 44 acres overlooking Cayuga Lake in Upstate New York. Sounds idyllic, right? Embarrassingly, I haven't been but when I go, this winery is high on my list because they are one of only two Gamay growers in New York.

According to their tech sheet, this wine is actually 96% Gamay and 4% Syrah. Since FLX is a "cold" grape growing region, their very light Gamay certainly requires a little bolstering from the bold Syrah.
Check out the wine of the month archive here!

My New Favorite Gamay?

Ok, let's not get ridiculous. But I appreciated this totally different Gamay experience. Unlike Beaujolais, they do not use carbonic maceration, which is fine but notable for the Gamay fans out there! Joaquin and I agree that we prefer Beaujolais but this Gamay is an interesting example of NY terroir. It requires a quick chill and pairs nicely with food.

Overall it is a fresh, light, approachable wine with crisp, under-ripe red berry flavors and earth tones accented by vanilla from its oak aging. While the body is lacking, the flavors are pronounced and the acid is significant.

My Notes
Appearance: Clear*, pale, garnet
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity, bright red cherries, cranberries, strawberries, wet earth, wet tree bark, herbes de Provence, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, dried out roses still in their vase water
Palate: Dry, high acid, low tannin, light body, crunchy cranberries, sour cherries, strawberries, vanilla, mocha, cedar, dried roses, tangy, fresh
Finish: Medium, notably longer than expected
Conclusion: Good
Cost: $18 on wine.com

Joaquin's Take on It

Overall, Beaujolais has a thicker body and is bolder than this Gamay from Sheldrake. The color is very, very light, almost like a dark rosé wine than a Gamay or Beaujo. It's also very cloudy and hazy!* It looks like some raw, natural, unfiltered wines. If you want to get super wino-y, I'd go forest floor, but if not, dirt and soil is what you'll get—very, very earthy nose. Very herbaceous, potpourri, with just a touch of fruit, not dark fruit, but more tart berry and sour cherry a bit. A touch floral, but more earthy than it is flowery. Body is slightly spicy, but very light bodied and still hazy. The acid is through the roof!

My problem with this Gamay is that I want it to be Pinot, but it never will be! The tannins are almost too soft/low, and the body and finish is (in my opinion) too thin and short, if I'm comparing it to both Beaujo and Pinot Noir. If you love tangy/sour/bitter/chalk, you'll love this Gamay, especially on the nose and flavors/body. If you like a cloudy, smoky, earthy wine, the same thing, go for it. But, this is almost unfair to compare to a Beaujo because it's so different!

This is most definitely not a red wine for those that want a big bold red! For me, it needs to be paired very delicately with food and it needs to be chilled, and you need to try it first and know what you're getting into because it's so specific!

*Wondering why the pictured wine is perfectly clear but Joaquin's was hazy and cloudy? We aren't sure either but my best guess is that his had leftover gases from the winemaking process and/or some sediment. If someone has an idea, let us know!

Huge thanks to Joaquin for providing his FLX expertise! Be sure to check him out on Instagram at @wino_dino_.

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