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Bargains to be had at Foire aux Vins but worry persists

As the annual Foires aux Vins get underway across France, supermarkets are hoping to rid themselves of large amounts of excess 2007 stock.

Traditionally, French supermarkets sell 50% of the Bordeaux classified wines during the Foires.

As such these autumn wine fairs are crucially important not just for the supermarkets, but for the region as a whole: 60% of Bordeaux wine sales still go to the French market.

Almost all the wines on sale are from 2006 and 2007, with a few interesting exceptions, such as Chateau d’Yquem 1991 for €154 in E Leclerc in Bordeaux, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1978 for €260, Chateau Haut Brion 1993 for €280.

But for the vast majority of later vintages, the trade is worried there will be similar sales drops to last year, when volume was down 8% on 2007.

‘It is going to be a tough sell,’ Guillaume Halley, owner of Chateau la Dauphine in Fronsac and of the local Carrefour Market in Bordeaux’s upmarket Cauderan suburb, told decanter.com.

‘The economic environment is still difficult. The prices of 2007s remain close to those of the 2006 vintage, but with a far worse consumer image.’

He said he was more optimistic for the reasonably-priced Grand Crus such as Carbonnieux or Chasse Spleen. These sell for around €20 but have a very strong public image.

‘Over the past 18 months sales of wines at over €25 per bottle have virtually ground to halt.’

Some wines, like Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2007 at €22, and Chateau Leoville Las Cases at €75 are seen as bargains.

Others can be found cheaper over the Channel. Chateau Lynch Bages 2006 is €48.90 in France and £41 in wine merchant Fine & Rare in the UK. Gruaud Larose 2006 is €36.50 in France, and £23 at London merchant Bordeaux Index.

The Foires Aux Vins run across France from this week until the end of September.

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Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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