The history of Beaujolais nouveau
Beaujolais had always made a vin de l'année to celebrate the end of the harvest, but until after WWII it was only for local consumption. In fact, once the Beaujolais AOC was established in 1937, AOC rules meant that Beaujolais wine could only be officially sold after the 15th December in the year of harvest. These rules were relaxed on 13 November 1951, and the Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais (UIVB) formally set the 15 November as the release date for what would henceforth be known as Beaujolais Nouveau.
A few members of the UIVB, notably the négociant Georges Duboeuf, saw the potential for marketing Beaujolais Nouveau. Not only was it a way to clear lots of vin ordinaire at a good profit, but selling wine within weeks of the harvest was great for cash flow. Hence the idea was born of a race to Paris carrying the first bottles of the new vintage. This attracted a lot of media coverage, and by the 1970s had become a national event. The races spread to neighbouring countries in Europe in the 1980s, followed by North America, and in the 1990s to Asia. In 1985, the date was changed to the third Thursday in November to take best advantage of marketing in the following weekend.
This "Beaujolais Day" is accompanied by publicity events and heavy advertising. The traditional slogan, even in English-speaking countries, was “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” (literally, "The new Beaujolais has arrived!"), but in 2005 this was changed to "It's Beaujolais Nouveau Time!". In the United States, it is promoted as a drink for Thanksgiving, which falls a week after the wine is released.
Duboeuf remains the biggest producer of Beaujolais Nouveau; unlike the "flower" labels of his other wines, his Nouveau features a colourful abstract design that changes every year. Duboeuf has silk ties made each year with the label's abstract design, and releases them through select wholesalers and distrbutors.