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How to make sure that you will be drinking Beaujolais Nouveau on time?

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Long-awaited launch of Beaujolais Nouveau strikes every year at midnight on the third Thursday of November, which will be on Thursday 21st this year. It is one of the greatest time to visit France since a lot of celebrations take place in villages and cities.
If you’re not in France, no worries! You can enjoy this amazing beverage at 12.01 am on the day of release everywhere in the world. This miracle relies on a tense supply chain.

First, a little bit of history

The consumption of new wine is as traditional as the production of the wine itself. Every year, the new harvest is awaited with great impatience. The period following the grape harvest has always been a time to celebrate the end of a period of intense labor, full of special events that marked the culmination of the vine growing cycle.

In the fifties, the use of a specific grape variety - the Gamay noir -, the will of the growers and wine merchants to develop the Beaujolais vineyards and a change in the administrative rules by the authorities reach a milestone in the emergence of the Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon.

In 1985 a new arrangement, designed to facilitate the sale of the 500,000 hl produced that year, fixed by decree the third Thursday of November as the official date for the release of Beaujolais Nouveau, still in force today.

The production of Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages Nouveaux has increased from 15,000 hl (not quite 2 million bottles) in the fifties to an average of 180,000 hl (25 million bottles) today.

Hands holding grapes for Beaujolais
Beaujolais Nouveau grapes

The “Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé“ everywhere

The expression the “Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé” is no longer reserved to France since more than 110 countries celebrate this great event nowadays. 60% of the production is dedicated to the French market while the remaining 40% is sold abroad. In 2018, more than 85 000 hl, around 12 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveaux were shipped to get at destination before the third Thursday of November.

World map showing countries celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau launch
Countries celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau launch

Japan is the world’s second Beaujolais Nouveau customer with more than 6 million bottles shipped every year. 

This year, the worldwide Beaujolais Nouveau launching event will take place in Tokyo. Japanese will be the first to get a taste of the light red wine thanks to their time zone.

The USA is the third-largest customer with 1,5 to 1,8 million bottles sold every year. This year, the volume will be around 1 million due to a 25% tax increase.

Chart of 5 leading countries fort imports of Beaujolais Nouveau in 2018
5 leading countries for imports of Beaujolais Nouveau in 2018 (Volume in hl)

But to have the sentence rang out at the same time in Paris, Tokyo or Los Angeles, a logistic miracle must occur.

Undefined harvest date and fixed release date lead to tense logistic

As Beaujolais Nouveau is always released on the third Thursday of November, regardless of the start of the harvest, it is generally on the shelves between 6 to 8 weeks after the grapes are harvested. Therefore, climate variation can lead to a delay of 2 to 3 weeks in harvesting the grapes. As the vinification process cannot be shortened, the pressure is put on logistic to deliver the Beaujolais Nouveau on time. This pressure is even more important considering the fact that 85% of the sell is made under 10 days after commercialization.

Artificial Beaujolais Nouveau perishability requires unique and flexible logistic organization

Wine parcels for France and the main destination in Europe are delivered by trucks while other destinations require either plane or sea shipping. Some airport logistic platforms like Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, Francfort, Luxembourg, Bâle-Mulhouse, Amsterdam are used to store Beaujolais wine before being loaded on airplanes or dispatched to other airports by trucks. In Lyon-St-Exupéry airport, as the logistic facility is not sufficient, 9 million Beaujolais Nouveau bottles are stored in a temporary warehouse waiting to be registered, labeled, reviewed by customs if required and loaded by handling companies on planes.

Specific rules for exportation lead to a high volume shipping in a short period

Beaujolais Nouveau bottles are allowed by French authorities to exit French territories 17 days before the release date to make sure that consumers throughout the world will receive their wine on time but not too soon. With an average transit time of 8 days for New-York city, Le Havre is the N°1 port for wine and spirits transportation. In 2018, 1 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau were shipped at the beginning of November from Le Havre to get on time on the USA market.

For Asia, as delivery lead time is too short to be shipped by sea, Beaujolais Nouveau is delivered by airplane. Every year, airline companies are shipping Beaujolais Nouveau pallets on cargo and passengers flight or even on dedicated flight on Boeing 747 airplane.

As a unique product, The Beaujolais Nouveau requires a specific and flexible supply chain solution impacting the whole shipping industry. Having real-time visibility on your shipment will prevent your business from being impacted during this tense period.


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