If you happen to be in France around september or october , be sure to check about the "Foires aux Vins" in french supermarkets .
These annual wine fairs are held at the wine section of most major french supermarket chains , all over France .
They last one to two weeks , attract a lot of wine lovers as at this occasion , the supermarkets offer a larger than usual selection of wines , with renowned Chateaus as well as small producers'wines, at bargain prices . Plus , they hire for the occasion additional sommeliers to help the customers . Usually , the special selection is available in all the supermarkets of each chain in France , with maybe better selection in some regions . Different supermarket chains offer different wines , and different bargains .
Dates for the fairs for each chain, as well as the best deals in each of them can be usually found in advance in french magazines end of august or early september in special issues called "Special Vin" or "Special Foire aux Vins" . 10 000 different wines can be found in these fairs , wines from all french wine regions . But this year again , Bordeaux wines have an important share .
I used to be a fan of these Foires , and still am, until I discovered the november and april " Salon des Producteurs Independants" in which hundreds of producers gather in Paris to offer free tasting of their wines and sell bottles . This is an event about wich I'll write an article when time comes .
When I visit a supermarket wine fair , I look for the small producer or the small appellation that found its way there . They usually are not shown on the leaflets printed by the chain and you have a better chance that they are not sold out . Supermarkets have their reputation to defend , as wine lovers are demanding , and selected wines , even in the lower price range can be very correct ones .
Best is to go at the beginning of the (usually) 10 days event, because quantity is limited and some of the best deals may be gone after a few days . As for mid-price wines , this Pauillac Chateau Pontet-Canet 2001 on the left was offered at 25,5 Euro . There was also a Pauillac Reserve de la Comtesse 2000 for 19,5 Euro .
They sometimes have a few bottles available for tasting, but don't count too much on it , especially for the cheaper wines . The trick is : Go there , buy one bottle you think could be a good one, open it and taste it the same day , and go back to the store to get a case or two if you like it . If you're with friends , each buy a different bottle , taste the wines together and after this nice tasting experience ( along with a sandwich , saucisson and ham is even better ) you are better armed to make your choice .
Supermarket chains each edit their printed booklet (20 pages at least usually) a few days before the event with their best deals in it . Our mail boxes overflow with them end of august-beg. september , and you can ask for them in the stores themselves .
This is my discovery of the day : Cabardes Chateau La Bouriette 2001 , a wine from the region of Carcassonne by Jacques and Francois Lurton . 4,3 Euro . Cabardes is a new appellation (feb 1999) in Languedoc wines with a nice quality . In this small appellation , 40% of atlantic grape varieties (Merlot , Cabernet Sauvignon , Cabernet Franc), 40% mediteranean grape varieties (Syrah , Grenache) and remaining 20% Cot and Cinsault . Nice aromas , pepper , liquorice . Round and generous wine .