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French wine sales open with bargain 2005 wines

The bi-annual supermarket wine sales have started this week across France, with bargains on top Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, mainly from the 2005 and 2006 vintages.

Some of the best offers in the Foire aux Vins include First Growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2005 and Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2005 at Carrefour for an expected €650 per bottle (€7,800 per case) – the current market price is around €11,000 per case.

Other classified growths on sale at the Intermarché and Champion stores include Chateau d’Yquem, Chateau Angélus and Chateau Léoville Las Cases.

As in previous years, sales of the best wines are expected to be restricted to two bottles per person, to stop professional wine merchants from cashing in.

Further offers include Carruades de Lafite – traditionally a good investment wine that can be bought at a reasonable price en primeur, but which rises rapidly. 192 bottles of the 2006 vintage, at €49.95 each, can be found at Auchan in the northern French town of Le Havre. UK wine merchant Farr Vintners is currently selling cases of 12 for €1230 (£1000), or €102 per bottle.

According to Guillaume Halley, owner of Chateau La Dauphine in Fronsac, and head of a Champion supermarket in an upmarket suburb of Bordeaux, 50% of wine over €20 is sold during the Foire aux Vins period, and the sales are responsible for nearly a quarter of all wine sold in supermarkets throughout the year.

Despite the level of discount available on many wines, Halley said French consumers may well turn their backs on this year’s sales.

‘The classified growths of Bordeaux still drive the foires across France,’ Halley told decanter.com. ‘But with the economy, customers may be more cautious this year, and a bad wine fair can be very damaging to Bordeaux’s yearly sales figures.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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