Regional Varieties: Baga Barbera Blaufränkisch Brachetto Carignan Carménère Cinsaut Dolcetto Gamay Graciano Lagrein Malvasia Nera Marzemino Montepulciano Mourvèdre Nero d'Avola Petit Verdot Petite Sirah Pinot Meunier Pinotage Touriga Nacional
Gamay is the grape responsible for producing red Beaujolais. Grown mostly in the Beaujolais region of France, it is also grown in the Loire Valley and Oregon's Willamette Valley. It is a very old grape, with indications that it has been in existence since as long ago as the 1400s. It is an abundant and easy-to-grow grape. More importantly, it is easy to drink as wine, which is why Beaujolais is world-famous for its drinkability.
The village of Gamay in Beaune, France, most likely originated the grape. In its early years Burgundy's lords looked down on Gamay, even issuing edicts that vines be replaced with Pinot Noir, as they considered that grape's wine to be more aristocratic. In recent years, however, a general rise in Beaujolais' popularity has resulted in a rejuvenation of Gamay in France and increased plantings in other places.
Gamay is naturally light-bodied, but a process called carbonic maceration softens the tannins and brings out lighter, tropical flavors, such as banana. The dazzling array of fruit in Beaujolais is the reason for its popularity, but the maceration also creates a much more easily drinkable wine that has very little aging potential.