Our Gamay Journey


In the harvest of 2022, Malivoire’s Courtney Block quietly passed a milestone.  Twenty years ago, this vineyard produced its first yield for a then-experimental wine we now call Courtney Gamay (fun fact: this first vintage, from 2002, was labelled “Single Block Gamay”).

While Malivoire’s very first gamay, from 2000, had been a more traditional treatment of the variety, Single (i.e. Courtney) Block was crafted to make a declaration about Malivoire’s belief in what we observed was a too-frequently underestimated variety.  It offered proof of our confidence that gamay has the strength to assert its character through diverse winemaking techniques, even some such as barrel-ageing, associated with fuller-bodied reds.

We eschewed reference to “carbonic maceration”.  At the time, this seemed to be a go-to treatment for gamay, according to conventional wisdom.  As we were out to stake our ground with less conventional treatments, we did not want to blur the message.

Courtney outperformed our hopes.  Not only did it deliver a resounding, stereotype-challenging message, it became one of our most praised and sought-after wines.  In doing so, it opened a door for Malivoire to reinforce its gamay message by exploring more styles, treatments and sources (acknowledging the Courtney Block as one of MANY sites producing distinctive gamay).

Cue the previously omitted carbonic.  With Courtney having proven that with a hard press and time in the barrel, gamay can make wine with sinew, it was time to make the point that gamay also parades its distinctive character when applied to more delicate styles.  Our first foray in this direction was the 2014 Gamay Le Coeur.  The debut vintage was made in a semi-carbonic method, but as the new wine proved its virtue through succeeding vintages, the whole-cluster contribution increased.  Le Coeur’s treatment is now fully carbonic.

Today, Malivoire offers five different gamays and two more will soon join the portfolio.  All are different and each, unleashing this free-spirited winegrape in an individually distinctive form, adds a new page to our journal of gamay.   

Courtney, the forerunner, wrote the first page, twenty years ago.

Written by: Eric Nixon
Posted by: Tammy Kruck