Bottles of the 2016 classic Beaujolais Nouveau wine are displayed at a countdown occasion in Tokyo on November 17, 2016.
Yoshikazu Tsuno | Gamma-Rapho | Getty Pictures
WASHINGTON – Yearly on the third Thursday of November, at precisely 12:01 a.m., the French launch their celebrated first wine of the harvest — the crisp and fruity Beaujolais Nouveau.
This yr, American oenophiles woke as much as a Beaujolais Nouveau market hampered by provide chain issues which have change into all-too-common in at the moment’s financial system, notably driver shortages and different transport points.
And all of that interprets into price will increase for suppliers and shoppers alike.
“There are undoubtedly points with the provision chain. There’s at all times an issue with containers and there is at all times an issue with house on ships, but it surely’s been actually tough this yr,” mentioned Dennis Kreps, co-founder of importer Quintessential Wines, which relies in California’s Napa Valley.
The market was already at a drawback as a result of local weather issues. Beaujolais Nouveau manufacturing was down practically 50% this yr due to spring frost and hail, adopted by a drought.
“It is form of a phenomenon that is taking place worldwide proper now,” Kreps mentioned. “I do know a few of the numbers in France particularly are down dramatically throughout all areas. Beaujolais was one of many hardest hit.”
Kreps, the unique U.S. importer of outstanding wine service provider Georges Duboeuf, coordinates with a small group on the colossal logistics of distributing the wine to American retailers on the exact French schedule.
In Beaujolais, thought-about a subregion of Burgundy, vineyards carpet roughly 42,000 acres of low granite hills north of Lyon in jap France.
Right here is the place thin-skinned magenta gamay grapes are queen and Georges Duboeuf is king.
Duboeuf, affectionately referred to as “Papa of Beaujolais,” has the gamay grapes hand-harvested in September. Then follows a fast fermentation and bottling in October.
A picker cuts grapes at a winery in Beaujolais, jap France, on early September 3, 2018, throughout this yr’s first Beaujolais’ harvest.
Philippe Desmazes | AFP | Getty Pictures
The Beaujolais Nouveau wine – sometimes gentle in physique with a juicy fruit-forward palate – is then shipped all over the world and staged for its November debut.
First, Beaujolais suppliers wanted to safe containers to start transport. Then they have been involved about delays on the ports.
“You’ll be able to’t management the backlog on the ports,” Kreps mentioned.
One ship was rerouted from New York to Norfolk, Virginia, as a result of a serious backup, he mentioned. The ship destined for New York sometimes carries the vast majority of the wine meant to be distributed throughout the nation, Kreps added.
“We then needed to reroute the entire drivers and the vehicles from New York all the way down to Norfolk after which get the containers off the ship and get these guys rolling to the West Coast instantly,” Kreps mentioned.
Additionally they had issues hiring certified drivers as a result of a labor scarcity, he mentioned.
“We have by no means had a problem earlier than, however one truck had a flip over so every part on that container was misplaced,” he mentioned. “So, sadly, all of the wine for Arkansas was misplaced, a lot of the wine for Memphis was misplaced, and I feel a big portion of the wine for West Virginia was misplaced.”
Beaujolais grapes lie in a basket within the “Moulin a Vent” winery, close to Chenas, Beaujolais, jap France on August 26, 2015, after this yr’s first Beaujolais’ harvest.
Jean-Philippe Ksiazek | AFP | Getty Pictures
But even with all the provision and manufacturing issues – freight prices have tripled and the price of the fruit itself was considerably increased, as effectively – a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau will promote this yr for under a barely increased retail worth than typical, Kreps mentioned.
“We had already dedicated to pricing to all of our wholesalers, the wholesalers name the retailers, the retailers had then dedicated portions,” he mentioned. “Now’s not the time to return to them with a value improve. So we labored with the vineyard and ate the fee.”
Kreps did have a optimistic message for the people who find themselves in a position to get their arms on a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau: Regardless of all of the difficulties with the provision chain and the small harvest, he mentioned, “the standard is unbelievable.”