Not all Beaujolais wine is promoted as vin nouveau (new wine), despite the highly successful marketing campaign that has made Beaujolais Nouveau synonymous with French wine and celebrated in full force on the third Thursday of November annually around the world. Wine classed as "Beaujolais Villages" is higher in alcohol and produced from a clearly defined region northwest of Villefranche. Beaujolais is made from one single variety of grape, the gamay noir à jus blanc. However, there are 12 different appellations: Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent, Régnié, and St-Amour. The Beaujolais Route du Vin (Wine Road), a narrow strip 23 km (14 miles) long, is home to nine of these deluxe Beaujolais wines, also known as grands crus.
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Vineyards that grow the gamay grape, used to make Beaujolais, stretch from Macon toward Lyon. Most have tasting rooms and bistros, but call ahead.
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In picturesque Villefranche-sur-Saone, sign up for lessons in wine-tasting as well as how to set up your own cellar.
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The Beaujolais nouveau is released the third week in November, kicking off five days of live music, dancing and free wine.
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