RKS Wine: Is Gamay on the Comeback Trail in Ontario?

Gamay was hot a decade ago in Ontario full of promise and hope but as “fads” go they can fade. Gamay seemed to fade but in the past few years it would appear to be gaining steam.

Cave Spring Vineyards is well known internationally for its Rieslings that receive generous ratings in the Wine Spectator seemingly ensconcing itself as an Ontario winery “worthy” of Wine Spectator recognition. Good step in the Wayne’s World, “We Are Not Worthy” chant!

Cave Spring has a well appointed and “wine tourist” tasting room in Jordan Village. Legions of pourers, lush décor and lots of subsidiary wine merchandise. But their new tasting room in Beamsville is spartan and glass enclosed with spectacular views of vineyards. It has an attraction to more serious wine drinkers interested in evaluating and tasting the wine instead of a living a touristic experience. After having visited so many tasting rooms in Europe and North America touristic experiences become somewhat mundane so the new Beamsville tasting room is more my speed. A recent visit to Napa rather soured me on the overdone and lush tasting room. Was it J Winery at Russian River Valley that was so over the top that it was theatrical? I have so much money I can babble away and all should listen to my pontification!

I had really wanted simply to drop in and say hello but as the manager seemed somewhat taken aback I would not do a tasting as driving and tasting do not mix I was persuaded to taste a couple of higher end wines that really towered above what I can say that were more “generally affordable” wines.

One of these wines was a 2020 Gamay Estate VQA Beamsville Bench. This was a Gamay with depth and many steps above a fruity and friendly moderately priced Gamay. On the nose raspberry coulis, Washington black cherry and milk chocolate predominate with a miniscule dusting of clove and allspice. It is rich! On the palate a piercing and penetrating laser beam of raspberry, black cherry cola and a long lingering finish. There is enough acidity to be a great match for rich tomato-based pasta such as Tuscan wild boar pasta or a mushroom ragout over polenta and yes enough power and heft to match a beef bourguignon. Although a possible sipper I would vote for this being a foodie wine unlike so many fruity and immediately accessible Gamays.

This is a young wine still trying to identify itself. It will continue to mature into wine puberty and be in its prime from 2025-2028. Many Ontario Gamays are in the $20-25 range. This one is a bit pricey and worth the increased expenditure.

(Cave Spring 2020 Gamay Estate VQA Beamsville Bench, Cave Spring Vineyard, Jordan, Ontario, $34.95, 750 mL, 13.5%, RKS Wine Rating 93/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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