Retailers on Thursday started selling this year’s edition of Beaujolais Nouveau wine after the young French red’s customary release time passed at midnight Wednesday.
The fading of the Beaujolais Nouveau boom in Japan — recently marked by the heralded wine’s distribution in PET bottles — has seen a drop in traditional release-day parties, taking a bite out of imports.
Due to the international dateline, Japan is one of the first countries each year to taste the heavily marketed wine, made from gamay grapes in the Bourgogne region north of Lyon. Some consider it an harbinger of the year’s crop of new wines.
In light of the slump, however, retailers are focusing on high-priced lineups of quality wine.
On Wednesday night, the visiting Beaujolais producer’s group held a news conference in Tokyo and said this year’s vintage has perfect balance, which it credited to the summer’s rich sunshine.
Aeon Retail Co., a unit of Aeon Co., which had offered Beaujolais mainly priced at around ¥1,000 per 750-ml bottle until last year, has increased its lineup of offerings from award-winning producers and is selling them for around ¥2,000 to ¥3,000.
Asahi Breweries Ltd., a unit of Asahi Holdings Inc., has expanded its lineup of premium Beaujolais Nouveau to three brands.
In the meantime, Suntory Wine International Ltd. has launched sales of three-liter cartons to encourage restaurants to serve the young wine in glasses as part of the shift in sales strategy.
According to Asahi Breweries, imports of this year’s Beaujolais wine are expected to fall some 10 percent from the previous year to 540,000 cases, compared with 1.04 million cases during the boom’s peak in 2004. One case contains 12 750-ml bottles.