The celebration of young Beaujolais has ceased to be relevant in Russia

The celebration of young Beaujolais has ceased to be relevant in Russia

On the third Thursday of November, sales of young Beaujolais began, a wine made from the black Gamay grape variety, which France successfully exports to many countries around the world. Russia is no exception. True, it will no longer be possible to consider this wine cheap in 2023 – a bottle is sold for 999 rubles, and sometimes even more. Should Russians continue to celebrate the “wine New Year” with a French drink or is it time to switch to domestic analogues, MK was looking into it.

When it comes to young Beaujolais, it’s worth forgetting the cliches and stereotypes that often surround wine drinking culture. You shouldn’t expect status or any incredible sophistication from it; young Beaujolais has a different feel – its mood. This is a cheap wine (in France a bottle can cost 2-3 euros), which, without exaggeration, flows like a river in the first days after the start of sales. When tasting young Beaujolais, you shouldn’t bother yourself with selecting glasses of a certain shape, using a decanter, or agonizing over the choice of gastronomic accompaniment. Cut a couple of varieties of ham, sausage and cheese onto a dish, add olives and open bottle after bottle – this is the optimal scenario for a Beaujolais Nouveau evening. Moscow cafes and restaurants specializing in French cuisine hold small celebrations – usually a concert with live music and special offers on a bottle of Beaujolais.

When buying young Beaujolais, you need to be careful: it is not intended for long-term storage, it should be sold and drunk within a few months. Ideally before Christmas. Unfortunately, unscrupulous sellers often take advantage of buyers’ ignorance and try to quietly put bottles left over from last year or even the year before on the shelves. Be sure to check: the label must say “2023”.

The sales start date is variable – the third Thursday of November (this year the holiday fell on November 16). The explanation is simple: in France, by law, it is impossible to sell young wine (from the current year’s harvest) before the third Thursday of November – so the French wait for this day, like children wait for a holiday. And they organize this holiday – on the specified day, banners with the slogan “Beaujolais nouveau est arrive!” appear in shops and bistros: this means that the young Beaujolais has arrived. On the same day, sales will start in other countries where France exports wine.

Russia is no exception: despite the impressive volume of sanctions, supplies of French wine did not stop in 2022–2023. True, their volume has decreased significantly – if a few years ago there were countless varieties of young Beaujolais on the shelves of Moscow wine stores (the same grape variety, just different producers), then in 2023 there will be a maximum of one or two.

— You can’t do without young Beaujolais, of course! — an employee of a liquor store on Presnensky Val answered the corresponding question warmly. — We ordered in advance so that we would have deliveries on the required day. Here we have two options.

There are two options, but the price is one: 999 rubles.

A little expensive for a young, democratic wine from which you don’t need to expect anything extra, right? Especially considering that in France a bottle of young Beaujolais still costs no more than 3-4 euros (at the current exchange rate – a maximum of 400 rubles). Unfortunately, there is a simple explanation for this. Back in July 2023, the Russian Government almost doubled import duties on wines from unfriendly countries – up to 20% (instead of 12.5%), but not less than $1.5 per liter. After this, importers were faced with an inevitable rise in price for foreign products, so the “democratic and inexpensive” Beaujolais for 999 rubles is absolutely understandable. This measure is intended to reduce the consumption of imported wine (especially European wine from unfriendly countries) and force consumers to pay attention to domestically produced wines.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning – it will get more expensive further. In November 2023, the State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted in the third reading a bill that increases excise taxes on wine almost threefold from May 1, 2024 – instead of 34 rubles per liter, the excise tax will increase to 108 rubles. The rates will continue to rise. The bill amends the Tax Code of the Russian Federation and provides for an increase in excise taxes on wine in 2025 to 112 rubles. per liter, in 2026 – up to 116 rubles. The excise tax rate on sparkling wines will be even higher – 141 rubles. per liter in 2024 and then increasing. It is expected that this measure will help increase budget revenues from the sale of alcohol.

In practice and for consumers, this means that the segment of inexpensive wines (today we are talking about wines costing 500–700 rubles per bottle) will be virtually destroyed – an increase in the excise tax will force producers to raise prices by at least 20% to cover losses. This means that even for the most unassuming bottle of wine you will have to pay about a thousand rubles. And this measure will affect not only lovers of imported wines, but also those who buy Russian ones – the excise tax is relevant for everyone.

By the way, Russian winemakers are already trying to replace imports with Beaujolais Nouveau. A few years ago, wine from one of the domestic wineries appeared on store shelves with the laconic name “Molodoye”, made from the “saperavi” variety (familiar to most from Georgian wines). Its production uses the same technology that the French use to produce Beaujolais – fermentation of grape juice without yeast. When the wine grape is deprived of oxygen (in a vacuum), the fermentation process is accelerated, and this allows you to quickly create the desired style of wine. Everything would be fine, but the quality of the product seems questionable to many experts. One popular wine critic describes it as “a squeaky, cheekbone-crushing red that you could crush because it’s a new wine year!”

In the wake of import substitution, Russian winemakers began to offer rather unusual solutions. For example, last week a scandal broke out around one of the domestic wineries – having released a rare champagne, they decided to sell it only “with load”: subject to the purchase of at least two other bottles of wine. The incident caused a great resonance – connoisseurs agree that Russian winemaking is not yet in a position to dictate such conditions (especially considering that there is a violation of consumer rights).

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 29160 dated November 20, 2023

Newspaper headline:
Black days for red

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