Gamay comes from a cross of Gouais, a quasi-inexistent variety today, and Pinot Noir. Once prolific in Burgundy, Gamay vines were pulled up under Philip the Bold’s famous edict in 1395. On the limestone and clay rich soils of Burgundy they were not successful, however, in the poor soils of Beaujolais they thrive and produce wines of great finesse. Of the 36,400 hectares of Gamay vines in France, 22,500 hectares are in Beaujolais.
There are two varieties of Gamay: the black skinned variety with white juice (the most common variety) and Gamay de Bouze (named after the village Bouze-les-Beaune in Burgundy). Gamay de Bouze is a black skinned grape with red juice and its leaves become red during Autumn.