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Each year as we debate the merits of the 10 finalists, aware that our choice will symbolize the entire awards, judges become passionate, animated, and edgy-rather like this jubilant wine from Burgundy. There is no doubt that gamay is a trend-setting grape now, sweetheart of sommeliers and gaining fans who love its juicy energy, mild tannins, and supreme ease with food.
It’s a remarkable turn of events for a grape that has historically been reviled in Burgundy. During the Middle Ages gamay was marginalized to the granite and sunshine of the present-day appellation of Beaujolais. There it dug deep into the stony ground and gives us wines like fruity-fresh nouveaus, streamlined village-level wines, and earthy serious crus.
Always progressive, the 217-year-old Maison Louis Latour has taken ripe advantage of the new “Bourgogne Gamay” regional appellation. For its first vintage, Latour has selected cru grapes from Fleurie, Chénas, and Régnié, plus 15 percent pinot noir.
Our winner is from a fabulous vintage in Beaujolais, with even weather that ensured full flavour development and fruit richness, but at lower alcohol levels. Pretty aromas of red berries and savoury spice usher in a juicy palate, with cherry notes, bright acidity, a polish of oak, and a mineral-edged finish. Light, lithe, and lively par excellence, it will pair with pâté, spicy tuna burger, or classic bistro steak frites.
Photographs by John Sinal