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Beaujolais outperforms rival French regions with strong UK exports

Published:  19 February, 2016

Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages posted exceptional volume and value growth in the UK in 2015, according to the latest figures from Ubi France.

Overall, exports to the UK grew 14.4% in volume and 8.9% in value last year.

Among France's wine regions, only Provence and the Loire sold better.

The Beaujolais-Villages AOC performed particularly well, with sales up 28.1% in volume and 26.4% in value.

The sales uplift for the Beaujolais AOC was more modest, growing 2.3% and 7.1% respectively.

The figures are in marked contrast to French wine and spirits exports as a whole, volumes of which were down 3.6% on 2014, the Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux de France recently reported.

The region has benefited from both a trend towards lighter styles of wine, and growing consumer interest in the heritage and authenticity of Old World wines.

Beaujolais' winemakers have also been developing a range of innovative techniques to drive high-quality production of the region's iconic Gamay grape.

These include grassing through vineyards, de-stemming and the use of indigenous yeasts.

Beaujolais logo

Key retailers such as the Wine Society and Marks & Spencer have also reported a marked increase in sales of Beaujolais.

At Marks & Spencer, sales of its Beaujolais AOC wine from producer Paul Sapin are up 18.9% for the year to date.

Toby Morrhall, wine buyer for the Wine Society, said: "Beaujolais wines continue to be excellent sellers, and ones that are definitely not in fear of decline.

"We are seeing an increase in customers who are steering away from high alcohol, and who prefer this lighter style of red that is so versatile and pairs with everything."

Bertrand Chatelet, director of Beaujolais research institute Sicarex, said: "Consumer tastes are moving away from heavy reds. Along with this, Gamay is developing a reputation in its own right as a light style with potential for complexity."

The strong sales figures bear out research from the Wilson Drinks Report, which suggested that Beaujolais is gaining in popularity among the millennial generation.

To support sales growth in the UK, Inter Beaujolais, the region's professional body, has committed to a three-year generic campaign, to be run by London-based media agency Westbury Communications.

It is also targeting the Republic of Ireland with a campaign for the first time.