The logistic challenges of a fine wine tasting on the other side of the world
As a partner of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) since 2007, Ziegler Wine & Spirits Bordeaux is in charge of the packaging and transport of wines that will be presented in various events all over the world.
With 80 events in 15 countries and 134 renowned members, the Union des Grands Crus is with no doubt the most important institution dedicated to spreading the reputation of the wines of Bordeaux.
Many times a year, the delegation gathers its members to events all over Asia, America and Europe. For several days, estate owners and directors of operations meet with professionals and amateurs of the wines of Bordeaux.
Each event leads to a tasting in which the wines are served in a precise order, depending on which wine estates are represented and on the consumption habits of the country.
Yearly tastings in 65 cities
‘In New York for example, we would start with white Graves, before following with wines of Pessac. Then we continue with the East of Bordeaux, we go up the Medoc region and finish with the Sauternes. The wines thus need to be set in a certain order and well separated in order to be served at the right temperature’, project manager Olivier Crombez illustrates.
The preparation is done in the warehouse of Ziegler Wine and Spirits in Bordeaux. A few days before the departure of the delegation, they receive all the vintages that will be presented throughout the tour. That’s about ten thousand bottles for the United States alone, with a hundred participating estates and up to twelve tastings per week.
A meticulous organisation
Ziegler’s mission? Prepare for each step of the tour one or several pallets containing the exact number of wines needed for the tasting. In order to do that, Ziegler sorts out and repacks all of the bottles. Each UGCB cardboard box gets a specific label, edited by Ziegler W&S, that states its content and the exact position of the bottles in it.
At the end of the process, the pallet for the Sotheby event in New York opens on a cardboard box containing white Graves and ends on Sauternes, in accordance with the instructions sent by the Union.
The Primeurs Week organised each Spring in Bordeaux is the peak of this perfectly organised race. ‘Since the wines are still in the ageing process, the châteaus only withdraw their samples 24 to 48 hours before the tasting. We thus need to centralise the wines and sort them all within a very short period of time, knowing that we organise tastings in various places every day”, Olivier Crombez explains.
This sorting and identification task done by Ziegler offers the Union a great visibility on the entire supply chain, with checks at every delivery and many possibilities of pallet control.
Once the delegation has left for Los Angeles, Hong-Kong or Vietnam, the estate owners can come to Ziegler if they’re worrying about an eventual omission. ‘There is always something unexpected that comes up in the event industry, especially when hundreds of potential clients are gathering in a prestigious venue on the other side of the world. But in terms of tastings, there is no margin for error’, Olivier Crombez sums up.
‘This perfectly organised logistics process is the result of many exchanges between the UGCB and our offices in Bordeaux. We are proud to share this accomplishment today’, Ziegler Regional Executive Manager Quentin Grandière comments.