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How Beaujolais Nouveau Won (And Lost) Generations of U.S. Drinkers

Beaujolais Nouveau animation

Animation by Eric DeFreitas

In the 1980s, Beaujolais Nouveau made its first big splash in the United States, and American consumption skyrocketed. By the ’90s, the food-friendly wine was a dinnertime staple. That new vintages are released each year on France’s celebratory Beaujolais Nouveau Day, which just so happens to fall right before Thanksgiving, only adds to its stateside appeal.

In recent years, however, U.S. sales have sharply declined. In the aftermath of the pandemic, industry experts project a 25% drop in Beaujolais Nouveau sales in the U.S., according to a 2020 Euronews report.

So, how did Nouveau lose its zeal?

“The Nouveau trend that took off earlier on was impressive to see,” says Rocco Lombardo, president of Wilson Daniels. “The wines were approachable, economical and only available for a finite time during the year, adding to their appeal. However, today’s consumers are more interested in wines of greater complexity that translate a sense of place.”

Beaujolais wine
Village of Romaneche, France (left) and grapes at Château du Moulin-à-Vent / Photos courtesy Château du Moulin-à-Vent

There’s increased consumer savvy about French wine and regions, too.

“Consumers are beginning to understand that opening a bottle of Cru Beaujolais from a producer like Château du Moulin-à-Vent, who is focused on single-vineyard, terroir-driven expressions, is a way to truly experience Burgundy without the hefty Burgundy price tag,” says Lombardo.

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How Beaujolais Nouveau Won (And Lost) Generations of U.S. Drinkers