The Gamay grape variety in the Beaujolais
Black skinned Gamay with white juice
The main characteristic of Beaujolais wine is that only one grape variety is used to produce them all: Black skinned Gamay with white juice. Grown in the Beaujolais region since the beginning of 17th century, this variety has accompanied the evolution of the region's vineyards and collective winegrowing traditions. And it is, of course, in Beaujolais' limestone-clay and granitic soils that this plant has found its true home. Nearly 70% of the 37 000 hectares of land planted with Black skinned Gamay with white juice throughout the world is to be found in the Beaujolais region.
In days gone by it was nicknamed petit Gamay, Gamay rond or Bourguignon noir. This hardy and productive variety requires constant tending to curb its vigour and control its yield. To give their best the vines need to be planted close together, using around 6000 to 13000 vines per hectare. In the Beaujolais-Villages and Cru appellation areas they are spur pruned (using the goblet, fan, charmet or cordon style), while in Beaujolais appellation areas the winegrowers are also allowed to use cane pruning methods. There are never more than 3 to 5 spurs on each vine for a maximum of 10 buds.