France's Beaujolais wine region is under-valued and is set to attract more outside investment, trade body Inter-Beaujolais has told just-drinks.

Inter-Beaujolais expects more wine companies to show an interest in Beaujolais as the region's lighter style of wines become more popular with consumers.

Louis Latour expanded its Beaujolais presence last year with the acquisition of Maison Henry Fessy. Another French firm, M. Chapoutier, is also believed to be looking to invest in the region.

"I think there will be more," said Inter-Beaujolais communications director Anthony Collet. "In terms of quality I think it will be a good thing because trade professionals, and journalists, will see that big names are interested," he told just-drinks.

"Big companies create a dynamic sales presence and create best practice. They are used to working to certain standards and they know what consumers in other countries want."

Beaujolais is keen to distance itself from its image as a one-trick pony - based around Beaujolais Nouveau - in certain markets, although the Nouveau campaign still performs well in several countries, particularly Japan.

It is in the UK that Inter-Beaujolais plans to spend more next year to push its ten "Crus", containing the regions higher end wines.  

Crus from what the trade body has desrcibed as a "historic, once-in-a-lifetime" 2009 vintage will be released in the UK from April next year.

"Compared to [neighbouring] Burgundy, Beaujolais is quite easy to understand and, in terms of price, Beaujolais gives execllent value," said Collet. Beaujolais Crus would typically retail in the UK for up to GBP8 in supermarkets and GBP12 in some indepedent retailers.

The lighter style of Beaujolais wines' signature grape variety - Gamay - is a "major opportunity" in the UK, Collet added.

There is a growing consumer trend towards lower alcohol, lighter style wines in the UK, the head wine buyer of leading supermarket Tesco told a conference earlier this autumn.