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The pretty village of Chablis is poised amid the hillside vineyards that produce its famous white wine on the banks of the River Serein and protected, perhaps from an ill wind, by the massive, round, turreted towers of the Porte Noël gateway. Although in America Chablis has become a generic name for cheap white wine, it's not so in France: here it's a bone-dry, slightly acacia-tasting wine of tremendous character, with the

premier cru and grand cru wines standing head to head with the best French whites. Prices in the local shops tend to be inflated, so your best bet is to buy directly from a vineyard; keep in mind that most are closed Sunday. The town's tourist office will provide information on nearby cellars where you can take tours, enjoy tastings, and learn all you need to know about the region's illustrious wine tradition.

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