50 years of wine fairs in French supermarkets
The concept was created by E.Leclerc in Brittany way back in 1973 and this year marks the 50th Anniversary.
Ahead of their time, the first promotional wine fair was a huge success and the Wine Fair idea has now been taken up by all the large supermarket groups across France.
With great prices for thousands of French wines, it gives the possibility to explore, discover and taste a wide range of wines from every corner of the vineyard regions, from Alsace in the east, to Champagne in the North, to the far south Languedoc.
Due to the wide appeal of the Fairs, they also create a great moment to value the hard work of the thousands of winemakers, toiling throughout the year to produce appealing wines for the consumer.
The concept also fits particularly well with the current trend of ‘Drink Less but Drink Better’.
This year, the E.Leclerc wine fair ran from 30th September to the 14th October – two weeks in which to re-evaluate your taste preferences and perhaps lay in some stock of fine wines or wines for anytime drinking.
One of the great specialist areas for the Foire aux Vins has always been – and still is – Bordeaux.
In this year’s catalogue, I counted around 125 red Bordeaux wines, with prices ranging from €1.99 for the humble Chateau Tour la Verité 2022, to €119.90 for the magnificent Chateau Lynch Bages Pauillac Grand Cru Classé 2021.
The former is an any day easy drinking claret, whilst the latter needs to be cellared for at least another eight years – an investment for future drinking!
Wines from the rest of the world get a very small look-in, with 11 wines only in a catalogue of several hundreds.
Unsurprisingly, as France is the Number One wine producer in the world and why go to France to buy wines from other countries?
This year – as most years – I was lucky enough to be in France during the Leclerc Wine Fair and took advantage of making a few purchases.
A 2022 Domaine bottled Reuilly from the Loire was outstanding – pure Sauvignon Blanc which knocks the spots off many a Sancerre.
Then I was tempted to case of Chateau Caillau 2020 Grand Cru St Emilion – at less than €10 a bottle! Drinking already, but will be even better in a couple or so years.
If you are a lover of French wines and also looking for another excuse to visit the country, make a plan to visit next Autumn during Wine Fair Season and stock up with both traditional and more unusual wines.
The promotional prices at that time allow for a little experimentation and a bit of tasting ‘off the beaten track’.
I’m fairly sure your palate will thank you!