Young at Heart

It is time for one wine to get its yearly debut, while a fizz is still seeing a huge increase in UK sales.

Image: Pincasso/

Every year on the third Thursday of November, the young red vin de primeur Beaujolais nouveau is released on to the market in a frenzy of promotion, buying and drinking.

Just six to eight weeks old, the wine is intended for immediate consumption, though it will last in bottle for up to two years.

Not everyone is a fan and the quality or otherwise of the light fruity Gamay wine is hotly contested. What is certain is that the night of 16 November, and the weekend following, will see many parties at various wine bars given over to boisterous testing of this year’s bottling.

The Majestic wine warehouse chain says that last year it was surprisingly popular in their stores and they will certainly be putting on a promotion this year.

At the time of All at Sea going to press, the wine is not yet ready for tasting or bottling and the buyers have to race against time with only a few days to find and ship their stock when the lock gates open.

Majestic’s price point is likely to be £9.99 per single bottle but with generous discounts for multi buys.

Make the occasion a theme for a dinner party or sailing club Saturday evening special event. Serve the Beaujolais chilled. Menu: French cruditées, chicken coq au vin, soft brie or camembert cheeses. That is the way to do it!

Fizz wars

Freixenet has entered the Prosecco market at a premium price.

In the UK, Prosecco sales have risen by 72 per cent since 2012, and our 2016 consumption grew by 30 per cent. We drank 2.5 times more Prosecco than the Italians did in 2016, according to market research company IRI, while Cava dropped by six per cent.

Prosecco can only be made from Glera grapes and in the northern Italy region around Veneto. To meet the increasing demand, the approved growing area is being expanded by 3,000 hectares over the next three years and Freixenet has set up new production facilities within the DC area.

Freixenet dominates the global Cava market and has suffered most from falling Cava sales versus Prosecco’s growth. They think the strength of their brand name in the sparkling wine sector will sweep them to the top of the Prosecco tree too.

“We want to be the consumer’s first choice for sparkling wine, and in the UK that means we must have a Prosecco,” said Freixenet UK MD Damian Clarke.

It is not everywhere yet but is available at Tesco for £12 in a classy, cut glass 75cl bottle at 11 per cent abv, positioned, says Clarke, as a premium “special occasion Prosecco”. It has a pale green colour and a crunchy apple flavour with a touch of sweetness. Why not give it a try this Christmas?

The issue of price

In early September when Lidl offered a promotional six bottles of its own Prosecco for £20 – about £3.30 a bottle – there were reports that disorderly queues and wrestling in the aisles broke out. Supplies quickly ran out which apparently took Lidl by surprise.

While we all look for price bargains, the risk is that permanent low prices can only be met with a loss of strict compliance to the AOC and quality. So buyer beware.


Advent calendar

A neat idea as a gift or for the Christmas home bar stock – The Beer Hawk Advent Calendar is filled with 24 novelty beers, “Belgian classics, crafty cans, German brilliance and British beauties” they say.

£65, free delivery