Between Mâcon and Lyon, you will discover the lush slopes of the Beaujolais countryside, renowned all over the world ever since an alert wine-merchant by the name of Georges Duboeuf hit upon the idea of promoting Beaujolais nouveau by offering it for consumption just a few weeks after the harvesting of the grapes. It would however be a mistake to limit your pleasures to Beaujolais nouveau: there are plenty of producers offering a whole range of lively red wines, the best of which are well worth the attention of the informed oenophile.
In terms of landscape, the traveller will notice no change on his or her route from the south of Burgundy to the Beaujolais country, now renowned throughout the world. The region lies between Mâcon to the north and Lyon to the south, and is bordered to the east by the Saône and to the west by the foothills of the Massif Central.
In contrast to other grape-growing regions, Beaujolais has the distinction of using almost exclusively just one variety of grape (gamay) in its wines. The gamay grape does truly seem to have found its preferred and natural home in this region with its 23,000 hectares of vineyards. It is a relatively undemanding variety which gives fresh and aromatic red wines pleasant to drink even when still very young.
The region is very much orientated towards the foreign market and exports 50% of its production. It has always been capable of winning hearts and palates and, at the end of November each year, there are always plenty of people who have a few glasses of Beaujolais nouveau in a spirit of good-natured celebration.
A Brief History of the Beaujolais Wine Region
From Roman times to the present day, grape-growing in Alsace has had a turbulent history.
Characteristics of Beaujolais Wine
In Alsace it is the grape variety, not the area, which gives its name to the wine. Twelve different varieties account for the region’s wines, which are for the most part white.
In the wine-producing areas of Alsace a distinction is drawn between the so-called regional appellation areas and the ‘grand cru’ areas.
Quick Travel Tip
Following is a list (not intended to be exhaustive) of Alsace ‘grands crus’, with in each case the name of the nearest commune. The list starts in the north and finishes in the south, so you can easily follow it on the map!