Beaujolais shipments arrive for ’07 launch

NAGOYA (Kyodo) This year’s first shipment of Beaujolais Nouveau arrived from France at Japan’s major airports Friday and underwent its first customs inspection at Chubu Centrair International Airport in Aichi Prefecture.

The wine, which will include rose versions, goes on sale Thursday.

Japan is expected to import about 700,000 cases of the young wine this year, or 8.4 million 750-milliliter bottles, down 20 percent from last year, according to importer and distributor Asahi Breweries Ltd.

This year’s Beaujolais Nouveau is very fruity and light because France was blessed with good weather, especially during the harvest around late August and early September, the brewery said.

The young wine, produced from gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region, is traditionally released for consumption worldwide on the third Thursday of November in a huge marketing blitz. Some see the wine as a rough gauge of the year’s harvest.

But the price of this year’s vintage will be about 5 percent higher than last year because of the strong euro, Asahi Breweries said.