Beaujolais Villages is the appellation for red, white and rose wines from an area in the north and west of the Beaujolais region. The terroir here is recognized as being particularly well suited to the production of Beaujolais wines and the term villages indicates this slightly higher quality. The villages in question are the 38 communes in this specified area. Each may append its own name to the Beaujolais Villages title, provided the wine is made solely from grapes grown within that specific commune.
The vineyards in the north-west of Beaujolais have a higher proportion of granite in their soils and its heat-retention properties help the grapes to achieve optimal ripeness. Furthermore, they are often situated on south-facing slopes in the eastern foothills of the Massif Central – the chain of low mountains which dominates southern-central France.
The Beaujolais Villages appellation accounts for about a quarter of the Beaujolais region's total annual output. It is the second-most-important appellation in terms of quantity – and arguably quality. The wines are generally more full-bodied and complex than those produced under the straight Beaujolais appellation, as a result of the superior terroir around the villages. Although rarely as fine and long-lasting as a wine from one of the Beaujolais Cru appellations, a Beaujolais Villages wine represents a significant step up from plain Beaujolais and is a much more serious style than Beaujolais Nouveau.