THE UNCORKING OF BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU LOST LUSTRE IN ASIA
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
The uncorking of Beaujolais Nouveau wine today went rather unnoticed in Asia amid shrinking demands in major Asian markets.
The third Thursday of November every year is Beaujolais Nouveau Day when the new wine goes on sale worldwide in a global marketing campaign.
Hong Kong, Asia’s wine hub, is marred by social unrest this year. Neighbouring mainland China, though socially stable, is becoming more dominated by Australian and Chilean wines.
Japan is a possible bright spot because of the tariff-free status now enjoyed by EU wine imports, but consumers there seemed to have moved on from their thirst for Beaujolais Nouveau seen in the 1980s.
Dominique Piron, President of Beaujolais Winemakers' Association, said Japanese consumers have lost their appetite for Beaujolais wine.
He said twelve years ago, French winemakers sold a total of 12 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau per year to Japan, that is about one bottle for every 12 Japanese people. But now Japan imports about half that number.
Despite that Japan canceled tariffs on EU wines in February this year because of the EU-Japan free trade agreement, Piron said Japan wine merchants have not increased their orders for Beaujolais Nouveau this year.
“Japan has lowered its taxes on imports but that doesn't mean they're buying more wine,” he said.
“Globally, wine production is in overproduction and there’s a tighter funnel when it comes to sales,” Piron added while emphasising that Chinese consumers are buying more Australian and Chilean wines because they are now tariff-free in China.
According to Piron, there were 4,000 producers in Beaujolais 15 years ago, now that number stands at 2,000, as big producers have acquired smaller operations and expanded their reach.
Back in Asia, Beaujolais Nouveau day went almost unnoticed in Hong Kong and China today, but some Japanese retailers did come up with special launches to promote sales.
The Jiji Press reported that Asahi Breweries, Japanese brewer and beverage distributor, has released a 1,500ml Beaujolais Nouveau, expecting it to be consumed by large groups of friends and family members, with a reference price set at ¥4,576 (USD42).
Grocery and household goods retailer Aeon Retail has launched a 750ml bottle of the new wine at ¥968.
The Beaujolais wine region is about 55km to the north of Lyon city. Its wine is made from red variety Gamay, it is known for its youthfulness and is supposed to be consumed young and fresh.
(the writer can be contacted at: email@example.com)
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