Like many Americans, my first bites in France were washed down with the fruity, gentle kiss of lightly sweet Beaujolais Nouveau.
Years later, I've come to prize the tarter, unvarnished earthiness of more natural, aged renditions of Gamay - a finicky grape finally gaining popularity beyond the annual November parties for the release of its unaged starlets (happening this Thursday, in fact.)
But first, the wine geeks at cozy new a.bar have dedicated their small list of reds to celebrating four less-sung Gamays. Skip the boxed version from P-U-R, which was a disappointment.
But do check out Bone Jolly, a ripe New World rendition from California's Edmunds St. John that smartly balanced the jammy fruit with earth. L
a Bonne Pioche by Guignier reminded me of cranberry relish. But my favorite was the bright Loire rendition from Clos du Tue-Boeuf, whose low-alcohol body was fresh with the aroma of marigolds, tart with tangerine acidity, and a long finish of woodsy spice.
Come Thanksgiving, this is the one I'll still be sipping.
- Craig LaBan
Clos du Tue-Boeuf Gamay 2012, $8-$13 a glass, a.bar, 135 S. 18th St., 215-825-7035; www.akitchenphilly.com