California Noir — No, Not That One

By Lenn Thompson

In my never-ending quest to bring you grapes from the Vines Less Tasted, I’m hoping that we travel the world (both grapily and geographically).

After tasting it this week, I just have to introduce you to Andrew Lane 2004 Gamay Noir ($18).

Where’s it from? Napa Valley. Obviously not all that remote or unknown. If you haven’t tasted wine from Napa, you probably don’t drink wine.

What’s it made from? Gamay Noir, which also goes by Gamay and Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc. That may sound lesser-known, but if you’ve had Beaujolais, you’ve had Gamay Noir.

But, when you take a region best know for cabernet and chardonnay and a grape best known for over-hyped “nouveau” from the Beaujolais region of France, you get something a little different.

Different and gulpingly delicious.

The off-putting (at least to me) banana peel aromas of Beaujolais Noveau aren’t a worry here. The nose is fresh and fruity with bold red berry (think cherry and raspberry). The palate is uber-food friendly and brings together bright fruit and soft-as-cotton tannins and fresh acidity.

We enjoyed a bottle last night with simple grilled fare — grilled smoked sausage, grilled asparagus and grilled summer squash. Perfecto!

I don’t like the wine-nerd word “quaffable,” so let’s call this gulpable or slurpable. Enjoy it all summer with burgers, dogs, steaks or even pizza.

Until next time, when we head to upstate New York to check on some white hybrids, drink on.

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