Little cheer for Beaujolais Nouveau as U.S. tariffs guzzle profits

By Cecile Mantovani

Beaujolais Nouveau wine lovers made merry as this year's first bottles were uncorked, but producers faced the sobering truth of a dip in margins due to new tariffs imposed by the United States, their second biggest export market.

Barrels of this season's vintage, a red made from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region, were rolled through the streets of Lyon in a traditional torchlit procession.

As the clock struck midnight on the third Thursday of November, bottles were popped open for late-night drinkers wearing "I Heart Beaujolais" T-shirts.

This year's Beaujolais Nouveau Day celebrations come a month after the U.S. imposed a 25% tax on French wine and other EU goods in response to illegal EU aircraft subsidies.

"This is going to be a hard blow, we will need to work hard to bounce back," said Jean-Baptiste Duperray a producer of the popular young wine, fermented for just a few weeks before hitting shelves around the world.

U.S. Beaujolais lovers will see little impact on their wallets, with prices remaining between $10 to $15 per bottle as dealers dug into their own pockets to hold prices steady, David Ratignier, vice-president of the Inter Beaujolais Association, said.

"This is what has enabled us to maintain our volumes, to maintain the Beaujolais Nouveau’s release in the United States. So we can say it's gone pretty well after all," he said.

The U.S. is the second largest export market for the light-colored red, with 13,337 hectoliters shipped in 2018, accounting for more than 15% of total exports and almost 8% of production.

In Japan, the top importer of Beaujolais Nouveau, men and women in straw hats, swimming shorts and bikini tops, and their children in floaters, soaked themselves in a "wine bath" that matched the color of the vintage to mark its 2019 launch.

Beaujolais Nouveau winemakers said they had little choice but to absorb U.S. President Donald Trump's additional tariff, monitor sales and hope it was short-lived.

"We realized (U.S. policy) can change in a morning with a simple tweet from Mr Trump. If Trump changes his mind overnight, everything will be OK," Ratignier said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I had a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau once in Osaka. Well, I say "glass" but actually it was kind of a jug, with a handle. Chilled. Classy. I got it down, but only because I needed the alcohol.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A friend of mine from the Beaujolais region told me that every year the beaujolais nouveau producers exaggerate a particular aroma to almost comical levels in order to appeal to people who dont know how to appreciate good wine. That year we had discussed it, the aroma was Banana, and true to form the BN smelled like a banana milkshake. Not like "notes of banana and citrus" but full on milkshake. I havent tried this year's one (not going to spend money on that!) but it makes me curious what flavor they added to it this year

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wine lovers don't drink Beaujolais Nouveau. It's plonk.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

 That year we had discussed it, the aroma was Banana, and true to form the BN smelled like a banana milkshake.

Yet another reason not to partake!

So much has been made out of this swill over the years that I have become deaf to all the sheeples around me who "ooh and ahh" about it coming every year here!

It's sold in plastic jugs down here to "lower" the price, as "bottles" weigh more and cost more to ship. I would be surprised one bit if the winos on the street wouldnt drink it either!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never again!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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