FALLEN OUT OF FAVOUR IN JAPAN, EXPORT OF BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU IN DECLINE
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Behind the hype of the Beaujolais Nouveau campaign last Thursday, there is the daunting truth that demand of the wine has been in continuous decline, mainly due to a dampened interest in the Japanese market.
According to the French wine and vine media Vitishpere, the 2018 bulk campaign for Beaujolais primeur wines was again marked by a decline in volume. A total of 133,000 hectolitres (hl) of wine were traded on 7 November 2018, compared with 145,000 hl last year.
The loss of volume only involves the generic Beaujolais appellation, having dropped by 11,500 hl, while the Beaujolais-villages appellation remains stable at 51,500 hl.
The main reason for the decline is a loss of interests in the Japanese market, which is a long-standing top export market for Beaujolais Nouveau.
“We are competing on store shelves with regional primeur wines, which are confusing to Japanese consumers,” said David Ratignier, vice-chairman of Beaujolais trade body Inter-Beaujolais.
“The recent storms that have hit Japan also have a direct impact on wine consumption. Another explanation is that last year, buyers made ‘hedge’ purchases for around 3,000 hl, which they did not renew this year,” added Ratigner.
The bulk market therefore continues to slowly deteriorate despite the promotion efforts of Inter-Beaujolias. “We would like to see it stabilise, but we haven't yet found the key,” Ratigner said.
In Japan, Beaujolais Nouveau went on sale last Thursday as in past years amid diminishing popularity of the dry red wines from the Gamay variety from the south of Burgundy.
Japanese wine merchants, however, are hoping that the new Rosé style debuted by major Beaujolais producer Les Vins Georges Duboeuf can revive Beaujolais Nouveau’s popularity in the country.
(The writer can be contacted at: SLawMathews@thewinechronicle.com)
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