The Central Coast of California is a long expanse that includes the foggy, super-cool region of Lompoc to the warm sunshine of Paso Robles with enough heat to ripen all grapes. We are lucky to have so many grapes varieties planted along the Central Coast. There are over 380 commercial grape types in the world, with at least 50 of these varieties being grown within trucking distance to our winery in Santa Maria
Au Bon Climat has always been interested in trying something new. Through the grapevine we would hear of interesting varieties, and have checked out quite a few over the years. However, most have turned out NOT to be that great. Gamay 15 came to our attention about 10 years ago. In searching for a high-quality source, Shell Creek Vineyards fit the bill. Shell Creek Vineyards has been growing grapes in the Paso Highlands for 50 years. These are truly Old Vines. It is a magical spot, with vistas that go on for miles and a world-famous wildflower bloom in the early spring. The warm days and cool nights allow the grapes to fully ripen and retain their acid. Gamay 15 is a higher acid variety, with good color and flavor. It is related to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; you can see this in the clusters and the vines
When it comes to production, every wine gets the same love and care to be its best. For Gamay-15 it meant fermentation in 5-ton open-tops and manual punch-downs as often as necessary. The wine was racked into nice older, french oak barrels after the fermentation finished. The elevage was extended to more than 24 months in barrel. After, it was fined with fresh egg whites to cut back on the rough tannins which allowed the vitality to really show. Just three months after bottling, the wine is delicious. Our Gamay has a varietal aroma of rose petal and ripe strawberries joined by flavors of Maraschino cherries with a mild note of pomegranate giving an impression of good acidity and structure. Our adventure into Gamay 15 has been fun and promising. The resulting wine is mouth filling and complex. It should get even better for few more years. Try this wine with grilled sausage or burgers on game day, or with beef stew for dinner.