At just after midnight Wednesday, retailers nationwide started selling this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau wine produced in the Burgundy region of France.
Hailstorms and low temperatures in July caused the Beaujolais-area wine grape harvest to be half that of average years.
This batch’s flavor, however, is light and fruity with a good balance of acidity and sugar content, according to officials at Suntory Holdings Ltd., a Beaujolais Nouveau importer.
In recent years, the Beaujolais range has diversified, with white and rose versions sold alongside the standard red.
Cheaper Beaujolais products are also now available, including plastic bottles of the wine and a 375-milliliter half-size bottle.
The intense price competition of recent years has eased because the reduced crop yield pushed up production costs for the 2012 wine, according to Japanese wine maker Mercian Corp.
Despite the reduced harvest, the volume of exports to Japan is expected to at least match the 660,000 cases of previous years.
In addition, Beaujolais Nouveau producers are believed to give priority to shipping their products to Japan because Japanese are their biggest customers.