By Jen Pfeiffer
Every year on the Sunday before the Melbourne Cup, Pfeiffer Wines celebrates the release of our current vintage Gamay, with the Pfeiffer Pfrolic on the Sunday Creek Bridge. We brunch into lunch into afternoon tea, the Gamay flows and everyone has a wonderful time!
This tradition was inspired by our French, Gamay producing "pfriends" from the region of Beaujolais. Just like Champagne is a region in France where sparkling wine is produced, Beaujolais is where the grape variety Gamay is grown and made into wine.
Beaujolais is situated in the east of France, just north of Lyon. It has a very long winemaking history, going back to medieval times.
The Beaujolais winemakers always made a light, fruity wine that was bottled quickly and sold locally – this was called "vin de l'année" and was a celebration of the end of the harvest. Each autumn, the new Beaujolais would arrive with much fanfare. In pitchers filled from the grower's barrels, the wine was drunk by an eager population.
It was wine made quickly to be drunk in its youth!!!
In 1937, the controlling body of the Beaujolais wine industry decreed that "vin de l'année" was only allowed to be sold after the 15th December in the year of its harvest.
These laws were relaxed after WWII, and in 1951, the 15th November became the formal release date for what would then become known as Beaujolais Noveau.
By this time, what was just a local tradition had gained so much popularity that the news of it reached Paris. Hence the idea was born of a race to Paris carrying the first bottles of the new vintage. This attracted a lot of media coverage, and by the 1970s had become a national event. The races spread to neighbouring countries in Europe in the 1980s, followed by North America, and in the 1990s to Asia.
In 1985, the date was changed again to be the third Thursday of November, to take advantage of the upcoming weekend. Banners would be made declaring: "Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!" or "The New Beaujolais has arrived!"
These days, approximately 50 million litres of Beaujolais Noveau are made annually – with the aim for most of it to be consumed on or shortly after that infamous Thursday in November.
So what makes Beaujolais Noveau, or Gamay wines, so attractive????
Gamay is a lighter styled wine than most reds, though is heavier than a rosé. It has lovely flavours of summer fruits, like cherries, strawberries and raspberries, and lends itself to being chilled in the warmer months. It's fruitiness and lighter, lively palate make it quite a festive wine, that can be enjoyed with a variety of foods, including antipasto platters, grilled or barbequed meats and fish.
The Pfeiffer Gamay is all those things the weekend just before the Melbourne Cup and we welcome our newest vintage release of Gamay in fine fashion.....just don't tell the French that we're 3 weeks early!!!!