Absolute tranquility and few events on the agenda: this is the atmosphere in the Beaujolais wine region, something quite unusual at this time of year. The explanation, once again, is in the coronavirus pandemic that has brought down the “New or Young Beaujolais Day.” Launched on the market on the third Thursday in November, the festivities associated with its presentation are a key event for winemakers, who compete to place the first bottles of the harvest in different markets.
Although there is little movement, at Châteaux de Pierreux, a 13th century castle, the activity continues. Denounced for many years, the New Beaujolais is now once again seducing the French thanks to its renewed quality and value for money, a factor of weight in times of crisis, as highlighted by Grégory Large, a heavyweight from the Mommessin house. “Confinement,” he says, “has multiplied the demand. People were looking for a good wine with a good quality / price ratio, generally between 6 and 10 euros, which is what Beaujolais wines usually cost. As for distribution, it is globally in the same figures that were registered in 2019. This means that they are committed to maintaining last year’s orders. But we continue to lose 30% of our sales potential with the closure of the restaurants. “
Professionals in the sector can hardly count on restaurants, but what about exports? A third of the 20 million bottles of New Beaujolais sold each year go to countries like the United States and Japan, but also to the United Kingdom and Switzerland in Europe, which are its main markets. But to what extent has the pandemic affected these exports?
Our reporter, Guillaume Petit, spoke with Philippe Bardet, CEO of the Loron House, which has more than 300 years of history. Philippe Bardet took over the family business 4 years ago. Almost half of the wine it produces is exported abroad. But this year, he tells us, the market is changing: “It is a difficult year. We have achieved a good wine, but it is not so easy to sell it. The Japanese market is very important to us. It is a market that tends to decline regularly, but This year especially he’s not in good shape. So in Japan, as in the United States and England, what will penalize us is not being able to celebrate the arrival of the New Beaujolais outside, in restaurants. ”
It is estimated that this year sales of New Beaujolais will fall by around 25%, including the French market and exports. Wine growers hope that household consumption encouraged by home delivery services organized by restaurants will compensate, at least in part, for these losses. Those who have tried it define this year’s young wine as fresh, rich and fruity. In any case, less bitter than 2020.