It became a tradition year after year, and now every supermarket in every town in France has its own: September is the time for the annual wine fair. This tradition came from the old wine fairs organized in villages of wine regions like Alsace, Bordeaux and Bourgogne. People talk about the wine fair organize in Colmar, in South of Alsace Vineyards back in 1305 more than 700 years ago!
September is time to make room for the new vintages which will arrive in cellars a few months after the harvest, and winemakers and estate owners found in this massive commercial event, a way to get rid of wine they still have in house. The modern version of wine fairs in supermarket was initiated by Leclerc distribution network, in 1973. At the beginning, it was only made to sale big quantities of low quality wines. Back at this time quality winemakers and well known chateaux refused to sell their production in general stores, between potatoes and disposable diapers.
But nowadays, things have changed. Supermarket sell 85% of wines in France, and in this huge market, the specific event of wine fairs in September represent 15% of their annual sales. With such figures, even well-known wine producers cannot ignore anymore this kind of sales. That is why wine fairs in supermarkets became so important in magazines and TV shows. Every channel and newspaper invites their own wine consultant to give tips and good advices about the fair and how to make good deals.
Generally, every store publishes a wine catalogue or puts the list of bottles they will sell on their website a few days before. Of course, there is some very good deals, but generally in small quantities, and now you have professional buyers at the wine fairs who fly from store to store on the first day to buy the best wine of the fair. For example, this year, you could find a Château La Nerthe. Châteauneuf-du-pape rouge 2006 which was quoted 16/20 at 24,90 Euro or a Bordaux Château La Tour Carnet Haut-médoc 2010 quoted 18/20 at 25 euro.
You also have lots of good wine for less than 10 Euro, coming from all regions, including outside France. But you must pay attention to all the special “coup de Coeur” or selection of the sommelier, who can just hide a good deal between the supermarket’s buyers and the producer, because it’s a not a good vintage and the producer has plenty of bottles in his cellar.
If you are not sure of yourself and don’t want to make any mistakes, check your local wine shop, where you can get advice. They also organize wine fair events at the same period and you should have less of a bad surprise.
To see selections made by oenologists and wine specialists, have a look at the links below: