Last post (read here), we gave Vancouver Island VQA a stab at Chardonnay, and they squeaked by with a passable but tart and wild one. Time for to raise the bar with a red grape: Gamay Noir. This grape can handle the cold, short seasons of Beaujolais. Why not the Northern edge of civilization:
We might be staying in Victoria, but since our toddler won’t handle the 2 hour 40 minute drive without making our ears bleed with her elephant song on repeat, I buy a bottle of 40 Knots Gamay for $25.00.
Now, 40 Knots claims 24 stunning acres, which make it the largest winery in the Comox Valley and one of the largest on Vancouver Island. Yes, 24 acres makes you massive up here. Context. They only made 225 cases of Gamay in 2017. But that scale allows them to farm organic and carry a gold Green Tourism certification.
But how is their wine.
The APPEARANCE looks a clear, bright cranberry ruby.
Mild AROMAS range from cherry snow cone syrup, cranberry, flint, steel, to peppercorn.
The PALATE feels somehow dry, even at 10.3% alcohol (news flash: grapes do not get very ripe this north). The body is light, lean, and ringing with high acidity. Good bye enamel!
Flavors twang with acidity, green cranberry (yes, trust me), strawberry pith, grass, pepper, and a dash of dry vanilla from French barrels.
Blind, you might think 40 Knots Gamay is a white wine. Actually, a white wine drinker might be willing to come to the darker side. Yet, it still tastes and looks like Gamay. Think cool vintage, village Beaujolais and you might be on the right track. I hesitate to give it a good rating (3 of 5), yet 40 Knots Gamay speaks the tongue of its terrior: cold, marginal, trying. But charge $25 for this experiment, really?
40 Knots recommends drinking this on its own lightly chilled. But sticking with terroir, local Spoke potato flour salt and pepper chips tame it a bit.
A salty soft pretzel works well with it. From our armory of local cheese Natural Pastures’ Aged Farmhouse: creamy, nutty, honeyed, floral and a bit peppery worked best. But honestly anything mild, cold cut turkey sandwiches, goat cheese, and so on should save it.
We save the bottle for the next day. But even my love for high toned, tart wine cannot handle all this acidity. It is a miracle that 40 Knots can pull off a Gamay at all. Just know what you are getting into.