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Gamay Around the Globe: From Burgundy to the Willamette Valley + Mussels, Pici, and A Bottle from New Zealand #Winophiles

This month I am hosting the French Winophiles as we look at French grape varieties that are cultivated and made into wines around the world. You can read my invitation here, but I asked the group to get  creative and look, for example, at Cinsault but made in Chile; Semillon from Australia; or Négrette made in California.

If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join our live Twitter chat on Saturday, March 20th at 8am Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #Winophiles and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it. Here's what the group is sharing...

Gamay Around the Globe

As for me, I decided to explore the same French grape - Gamay. Same vintage - 2018. But different countries. So, I picked up three different bottles of Gamay all from 2018. One from Burgundy, one from Oregon, and one from Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. 

Tarte à la Tomate + Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages Vieilles Vignes 2018

You can go to my original recipe post for the Tarte à la Tomate. But, for this pairing, I poured the Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages Vieilles Vignes 2018 from Beaujolais, Burgundy, France.

In the late 19th century, Jean Pelissier acquired a piece of land in the heart of the Brouilly appellation. And along with his son-in-law, Henry Fessy, they set out to create wine with little intervention to ensure the wines fully expressed the grapes' terroir and unique sense of place. Moving into the 20th century, the legacy has passed to sons and grandsons. And the estate was purchased in 2008 by Maison Louis Latour.

In the glass, the Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages Vieilles Vignes 2018 poured a deep ruby color with flecks of purple on the rim. On the nose, the wine had ample red fruit which were mirrored on the tongue. The finish was spicy and it made for a nice parallel to my somewhat piquant tomato tart.

Spiced Sweet Potato-Red Lentil Stew + 
Ayres Gamay Noir 2018

After tasting a French Gamay with my take on a French tomato tart, I was inspired to pair an Oregonian Gamay with my take on a stew from Sudan. I know, I know, those don't even sound like they are in the same flavor universe, but it worked. I promise. You can go to my original recipe post for the Spiced Sweet Potato-Red Lentil Stew

The 2018 Ayres Gamay Noir comes from the Chehalem Mountains in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In 2000 Brad and Kathleen McLeroy partnered with Kathleen's parents, Don and Carol McClure, to purchase a property in Newberg that would become the  Ayres Vineyard. The first vines were planted in 2001. And the Ayres Vineyard is committed to sustainable growing practices and has held both LIVE and Salmon Safe certification status for a decade now. 

McLeroy crafts his wines to retain the soil's voice in his grapes. To that end, the grapes are harvested by hand and lightly crushed in a wooden basket press before undergoing native fermentation.

This Gamay had all of the red fruit that I think of as typically Gamay.  However, it had a lively, present earthiness from its spiciness to its evergreen duff. That damp woodiness went well with my peanut-based sweet potato stew.

Mussels and Pici + 
Te Mata Estate Vineyards Gamay Noir 2018

However the recipe that I wanted to highlight for this event is sort of off the deep end in two senses. First, it feels about as far from France as you can get; and second, it's a red wine paired with seafood. But I have never really been much of a rule follower with my wine pairings, as in 'seafood goes with white wine' kinda rules. So, here we go.

In My Glass
The Te Mata Estate Vineyards Gamay Noir 2018 hails from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. The estate was originally part of the Te Mata Station and lies in the shadow of The Sleeping Giant. I love the teleologial legend of how that peak came to be. 

Legend has it that Hinerakau, the daughter of a Pakipaki chief whose people lived inland, plotted to make Te Mata, a Waimarama chief whose people ruled the coast, fall in love with her. She hoped to bring peace to the land from coast to mountain. But her scheme backfired when she actually fell in love with him, too. Her people demanded Te Mata prove his devotion by performing seemingly unachievable tasks. He died proving his devotion while biting his way through the hills to create an easy access between the coast and the plains. Choking on the dirt of the hills, it's his body that forms Te Mata Peak. And, they say, that the gully at the bottom of the cliff was formed when grief-stricken Hinerakau threw herself off the mountain in anguish.

In the  glass, this wine is a vibrant, deep ruby hue with a brighter red on the rim. While there's an abundance of fruit - both red and black - on the nose, the palate is more earthy and mineral than the aromas suggest. I enjoyed the notes of licorice and spice on the tongue. And the wine's silkiness was tempered with some zesty tannins. This was a fun wine and I wanted an equally fun food pairing.

In My Bowl

When I was searching for recipes from New Zealand, I came across a dish made popular by a  Malaysian chef that he called Mussels and Pici. So, it's not a traditional New Zealand dish, but I do love making hand-rolled pasta and I found some mussels from New Zealand.

Pici is thick, hand-rolled pasta that originated in Tuscany, near Sienna. It's usually made from just flour and water so it's a little more dense and chewy. And, as with most of my pasta doughs, I use weight measurements but have given volume approximations as well.

Ingredients serves 4 to 6


  • 75 grams (approximately ½ cup) pasta flour or all-purpose flour
  • 85 gram (approximately ½ cup) semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 80 ml (approximately ⅓ cup) warm water


  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 tomato, cored and diced
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
  • 250 ml (1 cup) fish stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 pinch saffron threads soaked in 1 Tablespoon warm water
  • 1 kilogram mussels (I found New Zealand Greenshell Mussels in the half shell)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed


Place flours and salt together in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the water, and mix with a fork until it just comes together. 

Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. 

Wrap in plastic wrap and rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Now on to the fun part...


Divide the dough ball into 8 golf ball-sized pieces and roll them into 12" cylinders approximately 1" diameter. 

Then take each cylinder and rub them between your palms until they elongate and become thinner. I like to use gravity and have the pici come off the back of my hand back to the countertop.

Curl the noodle into a spiral. Set aside until needed.


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook until just slightly softened, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the wine and stock. Stir in the tomatoes, saffron threads, and saffron soaking water. Bring to a boil.

Add the pici to the pot. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Nestle the mussels into the cooking liquid. Cover the pot and let the mussels steam for 3 to 4 minutes. If they are in their full shell, make sure you steam them until they open.

Once the mussels are  cooked through and opened completely, scatter  fresh parsley over the top and season with freshly ground black pepper. Spoon servings into individual bowls and serve immediately.

That's a wrap for our French grapes outside of France focus. We'll be back next month as Gwendolyn of Wine Predator leads the discussion about organic wines from the Loire. Read her invitation: here. Stay tuned.


  1. What an interesting look at how the grape does around the world. I've been reading about Te Mata wines and based on your description I think I would like that one best.

  2. Gamay isn't a wine we drink much but you've inspired us! We're particularly interested in the one out of Oregon...

  3. Thanks for hosting this month. So interesting you were able to find an Oregon Gamay Noir and a New Zealand Gamay Noir, and compare them with a Beaujolais. The hand-made noodles are so good!

  4. This looks amazing and the wines sound beautiful. The dish reminds of both vacations in New Zealand and in Italy which is really fun. As well, I've been meaning to try to make pici pasta -- you've reinspired me.

  5. We enjoy fresh mussels often so I'll have to try them with a Gamay!

  6. Wow! Love how each of your wines had such unique character. And the sweet potato and lentil stew is going on my must-make list. Thanks again for hosting - great topic and chat!

  7. Okay, my favorite tasting note in here..."a lively, present earthiness from its spiciness to its evergreen duff. That damp woodiness went well with my peanut-based sweet potato stew." That clicked so easily in my mind, even having no knowledge of the wine or dish. That is an evocative note! However, your final wine the Te Mata with the story and that beautiful bowl of mussels and pici is just amazing.

  8. Thanks for hosting this month. So much fun! Happy to be here learning and getting ideas from you and this incredible crew!


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