My February 2017 report is now online, and it’s a 2015 Beaujolais-fest. 51 domaines and 355 wines – it’s also a great vintage!
In 2016, only 3 French regions experienced an increase in both their wine sales volumes and values; Beaujolais, Burgundy and Corsica. The crus of Beaujolais had 42% of their region’s sales volume and 54% in value. Beaujolais Villages (not nouveau) posted 6% of volume and 6% value growth, whereas Beaujolais (not nouveau) represented 11% of sales volume and 7% in value.
Whilst not my favourite appellation, even the Beaujolais Blanc and Beaujolais Villages Blanc continued to grow their volume and the Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages rosés – which I rate highly – increased by 7.2%. And then there’s Beaujolais Nouveau – whose sales volume is only a little less than that of the crus – even that label managed to grow its sales volume in 2016, albeit by only 0.1%.
At first sight this is a success story for Beaujolais but, unlike Burgundy, much of this growth has been bought – prices are really too low. Among the producers there’s a lot of fear about pricing, and dropping their prices in the face of buyers seems just a reflex action – whilst at the same time many producers see the cave cooperatives to be almost price-dumping. There are some price increases in the works for the brilliant 2015s, but often it amounts to 20-30 centimes per bottle – and the labels, corks, packaging and bottles have probably increased by more than that.
Having visited the magnificent ‘factory shop’ of Georges Duboeuf I have some sympathy with the price-dumping argument – how can a region ever drag itself from penury when it’s possible to buy a 2009 Fleurie off the shelf for €9? And Duboeuf is a long way from the worst offender!