Like every3rd Thursday of November, this year again, we will toast to a new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau. A perfect opportunity to follow in the footsteps of this region which extends its vineyards north of Lyon and which also includes the ten other Beaujolais crus
An unmissable capital
To discover the Beaujolais, you must start with its capital Villefranche-sur-Saône. Villefranche became the economic capital of the Beaujolais, supplanting Beaujeu, which was too far away, before taking over the political capital in 1532. Although surrounded by ramparts, Villefranche is above all a market town, which explains its configuration, of which the town centre still bears witness today: from the outset, a north-south oriented street was the main axis, wide for the time because it was occupied by a market. This central street, renamed several times over the centuries to become the Rue Nationale - Rue Nat' for the inhabitants - is still the pulse of the town and it is around it that the discovery is based. Some visits are unavoidable, such as the collegiate church Notre-Dame des Marais. Take a tour of the fifteen chapels to admire all the stained glass windows, the oldest of which dates from the 14th century. Not forgetting the great organ of 1834, classified as a historical monument, with its 45 stops, its 2 cases and its 2,300 pipes, the work of the Callinet company. Then, head for the Auberge de la Coupe d'Or, whose courtyard dates back to Louis XIV, the Maison du Patrimoine and the Musée des Conscrits, the Musée Paul Dini, which brings together important artists from the region, as well as the old houses in the town. Finally, in the superb historic building of the Hôtel-Dieu, you will find the tourist office, which will introduce you to the Beaujolais region, a few minutes north of Lyon and easily accessible from the A6 motorway. Four territories that open the doors to the most wonderful discoveries. Everything can start at the Maison du Tourisme, in the Beaujolais Cœur de Ville around Villefranche-sur-Saône, before moving on to the Beaujolais des Pierres Dorées, remarkable for its lights set against the yellow ochre villages. Then, we turn to the Beaujolais Vignoble and its famous 10 crus known throughout the world. Finally, we go to the Beaujolais Vert Nature, an immense space in the west of the territory between mountains and valleys. Here, everything is beautiful, good, generous, greedy and the places to taste these pleasures are numerous and welcoming.
A Beaujolais, Beaujolais wines
Beaujolais is first and foremost Beaujolais, made up of a range of wines with strong personalities, from Beaujolais Nouveau (the most extensive appellation, some of which can be enjoyed as early as November) to the ten Beaujolais crus (Brouilly, chénas, chiroubles, côte-de-brouilly, fleurie, juliénas, morgon, moulin-à-vent, régnié, saint-amour) and the beaujolais-villages (spread over 38 communes, they represent 25% of the total production of the Beaujolais vineyard). This homogeneous range meets all the expectations of a modern, spontaneous and lively consumption and opens up all the pleasures of tasting, from the aperitif to the party with friends, to gastronomic meals
The truth of Beaujolais is not literature: it is at the bottom of the glass, notwithstanding the beautiful pages that have been dedicated to it, from Thomas Jefferson to Colette or Bernard Pivot! The Beaujolais appellation essentially concerns three cantons, Villefranche, Anse and Le Bois-d'Oingt, as well as a few villages in the cantons of Arbresle and Tarare. We can add a few plots of land bordering the communes producing Beaujolais-Villages and Crus, i.e. a total of 72 communes in which Beaujolais is the only production for the majority or a combination of other Beaujolais appellations and other productions such as fruit, market gardening or mixed farming
More than 2,000 farmers
Beaujolais is characterized by its brilliant colour, its colour between the gleaming cherry and the purplish purple. Light, aromatic, fruity, bouqueted, lively and easy to drink, they develop very fresh aromas of pressed grapes or small red fruits, mainly redcurrant. The appellation dates back to 1937. Each year, half of the production is marketed as Beaujolais Nouveau. The Beaujolais Villages appellation concerns thirty-eight communes that joined forces fifty years ago to create the first French AOC using the term "villages". The Beaujolais Villages stretch over 30 km between the Saône valley and the mountains of Haute-Azergues and Haut-Beaujolais. The official text of 21 April 1950 confirms the right to the Beaujolais-Villages appellation. On the thin, filtering soils, easy to work, 1,500 winegrowers produce on 5,700 hectares. Most of these wines age well and are highly prized by French restaurateurs. Fresh, lively, lively and cheerful, mischievous and flirtatious, they are more thirst-quenching than heady, more discreet than pedantic and more slippery than intrusive. The Amicale des Beaujolais Villages is chaired by Pierre Deshayes, a winegrower from Le Perréon. About forty communes on the southern edge of Beaujolais officially make up the part of Beaujolais called the Pierres Dorées, producers of the Beaujolais appellation. Here the harvesting machine is still forbidden because the Beaujolais vinification requires a whole bunch fermentation. The Beaujolais Nouveau and the Beaujolais des quatre saisons are produced here. This region, surrounded by the Azergues river, whose hills are of sedimentary origin, has the famous golden stone in its clay-limestone soil
To be tasted fresh!
For Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, it is advisable to drink them chilled at a temperature of 12°C. The aromas and the wine in the mouth are at their optimum expression. For the Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages, it is recommended to drink them at 13°C-14°C in order to bring out the aromatic richness of the Gamay grape variety. Depending on its richness, it can be kept for 2 years or more. For the Beaujolais crus, a temperature of 16°C is recommended. However, a lower temperature can be considered for a 1 or 2 year old wine, 15°C, for example, and slightly higher for a 3 to 5 year old wine: 17°C, for example. To be enjoyed in moderation, of course!
When to visit? You can visit the region all year round, harvesting in September and tasting the Beaujolais Nouveau from the third Thursday in November.
How to get there. By car, by train or by plane (via Lyon), everything is possible.
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