Beaujolais Nouveau wins over Japanese

18th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

TOKYO, Nov 18 (AFP) - Japan, the land of sake, began popping the corks Thursday on a record order of Beaujolais Nouveau, as wine becomes part of a culture which prizes in-season trends.

TOKYO, Nov 18 (AFP) - Japan, the land of sake, began popping the corks Thursday on a record order of Beaujolais Nouveau, as wine becomes part of a culture which prizes in-season trends.

Leading merchant Georges Duboeuf led a toast at a midnight party at a Tokyo hotel attended by some 300 celebrities to ring in the start of Beaujolais Nouveau 2004 sales.

"This year's product is fruity and goes down smoothly," the 71-year-old French dealer said at the party organised by Suntory, Japan's top Beaujolais Nouveau importer.

For Duboeuf, Japan's orders this year for the first time surpassed those of the United States.

Suntory estimated Japan's imports of Beaujolais Nouveau 2004 at 850,000 cases, topping last year's record of 717,000 cases. One case means 12 750-millilitre bottles or nine litres.

In 1995, Japan's imported a mere 66,400 cases.

Duboeuf, who has a 15-percent share of the world market for Beaujolais Nouveau, has attended the Beaujolais Nouveau party here for the second straight year.

"Wine in general has become a household word in Japan through successive wine booms," Suntory spokeswoman Aya Takemoto said. "And Beaujolais Nouveau has fit Japanese culture which attaches importance to 'shun' ('season')."

She also cited the effects of last year's phenomenal harvest and aggressive promotion campaigns.

"Last year, our imports were sold out so quickly that many customers could not have a full taste of what was described as the best harvest in a century," Takemoto said.

"Many retail stores have made a head start in making reservations with us this year," she added.

Suntory plans to import 290,000 cases of Beaujolais Nouveau this year, up 41 percent from 2003.

Beaujolais Nouveau is even picking up at Japan's convenience stores, with 7-Eleven planning to sell a record 700,000 bottles, up eight percent from last year.

"We have been alerting the customers since August to the coming of the Beaujolais Nouveau season," 7-Eleven spokeswoman Mayumi Ito said. "We have spiced up the campaign by providing a menu of pizza, salad and other foods that go well with the wine."

Japan is the biggest drinker of wine in Asia with annual per capita consumption at slightly below three litres, about 100 times the level of 30 years ago. It is the 10th largest wine importer in the world.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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