Every year, on the third Thursday of November, France celebrates the Beaujolais Nouveau – a young wine, produced by some 2,000 winemakers in the Beaujolais region.
Our reporter Andrea Büring met with winemaker Sylvain Donjon, whose six hectares of vineyards are located in Beaujeu, in the heart of the famous wine region.
This year, he expects to sell all of his 1,200 bottles. A clever marketing strategy has made the Beaujolais Nouveau a huge success story – one that baffles many wine critics.
“It’s a very easy wine, light and lively. That’s how we perceive it in France. Abroad, the Beaujolais Nouveau is very renowned,” he said.
The Beaujolais Nouveau is a young wine that hits the shelves just six to eight weeks after the grapes are harvested.
Each year around 25 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are put on the market. Forty percent of them are exported. A quarter head to Japan – where fans literally bathe in the wine – and a fifth to the United States.
“We’re very popular in the US because we make a kind of wine that Americans enjoy – for them it’s a nice change from Californian wines, which are very robust, dark and almost sweet,” Donjon said.
In France, a bottle typically costs less than 10 euros, in Japan at least twice as much. Timing is key: uncorking a bottle in the middle of November is for many a welcome celebration.
“We usually sell most of our bottles in the first two weeks that follow the launch of the Beaujolais Nouveau,” Donjon said.
“It’s a shame really, because it’s just as good and perhaps even better to drink it at Christmas. We’re victims of our own success, of our marketing which gives the impression that if you don’t drink it the right day, it’s too late.”
Winemakers say 2017 is a “colourful and fruity” vintage.