Gamay noir is an old variety from Burgundy that was banned by Philip the Bold, the duke of Burgundy, in 1395 because he feared it might damage the region’s reputation for making great wines, especially from Pinot noir. Farmers in the region had been planting more and more Gamay noir at the expense of Pinot noir, because the former produced higher yields and were easier to grow.
The ban succeeded in saving the regions reputation, but caused poverty to worsen. Farmers in the Beaujolais region, in the south of Burgundy, managed to escape the duke’s notice and continued to produce Gamay noir. The variety turned out to be well-suited to the region, resulting in it being the main red variety produced in Beaujolais from the 17th Century.
The variety gained popularity outside the region in the 1980s, with producers basically putting the wines on the shelve almost a day after it was harvested. Since then, the popularity of the variety has dwindled, but producers has responded by creating more sophisticated Gamay noir wines.
The vine is moderately vigorous. New clones are relatively fertile, with a yields averaging between 12 t/ha to 15 t/ha. Grapes ripen early mid-season, from the first half of February.
Berries are small, round and have a purple bluish colour. Leaves are medium sized, round, primarily three lobed and have a bright green colour.