First Beaujolais shipments arrive; Aeon to serve in plastic bottles

Kyodo

This year’s first shipment of Beaujolais Nouveau arrived Friday at Narita and other airports in Japan, with worldwide sales of the French wine set to kick off Nov. 20.

Japan, one of the first nations able to taste the fresh, young red, which is traditionally drunk at midnight, is expected to import only 6.48 million bottles this year, down 20 percent, according to Asahi Breweries Ltd., a major importer and distributor of the wine.

This year’s batch has a good combination of ample fruitiness and moderate acidity, partially due to the sunny and cool weather the Beaujolais region received in September, the company said.

“Although pricey bottles, including those from select farms, tended to be a topic of conversation until last year, reasonably priced standard bottles may gain popularity again this year, partly because of an economic downturn,” a company official said.

On Thursday, Aeon Co. said it will offer this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau at a discount, thanks to cost-cutting efforts and a strong yen.

Aeon said its “special” Beaujolais Nouveau will hit store shelves in 750-ml plastic bottles instead of glass, and priced at ¥1,780, undercutting the average market price of ¥2,000 to ¥3,000.

Aeon said the discount was made possible by an arrangement that allows it to purchase the young wine directly from the winemakers.

Aeon said it will not accept advance orders for the wine and it will be available only through its 255 Jusco supermarkets in Honshu and Shikoku, it said.

But advance orders will be allowed for other imported Beaujolais Nouveau products, and the company will give out discount tickets worth ¥100 each for those.