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Wine fairs France

  • 24-07-2014 7:30pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 469 ✭✭ badker


    I'm looking for info on buying wine in France? What are the wine fairs like in the supermarkets?

    I am travelling to France at the start of September and plan on visiting Loire Valley and Bordeaux. We are going through Cherbourg. Am I best off stocking up the car near the boat?

    Any advise appreciated as i'm a 1st timer!


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,763 ✭✭✭✭ First Up


    badker wrote: »
    I'm looking for info on buying wine in France? What are the wine fairs like in the supermarkets?

    I am travelling to France at the start of September and plan on visiting Loire Valley and Bordeaux. We are going through Cherbourg. Am I best off stocking up the car near the boat?

    Any advise appreciated as i'm a 1st timer!

    The most convenient would be to load up in Cherbourg before you leave - there is a Carrefour 5 minutes from the ferry and an Auchan just a few minutes further. All the big stores have wine fairs (Foires aux Vins) - usually in Spring and Autumn. Check out http://www.larvf.com/ for details of the dates. However even outside of the fairs, the likes of Carrefour and Auchan are constantly promoting something on offer so you will get some good deals and they sell in cases of six so its easy.

    While the above is the most convenient, it would be shame to be in the Loire and Bordeaux and not explore the wines there. A lot of chateaux will sell direct to customers and often in 20 or even 50 litre drums. This saves you both weight and money but two drawbacks - 1, you could be nabbed at Irish customs for no-payment of VAT. You can essentially bring as much as you want in, as long as bottles have the green seal to confirm VAT is paid but otherwise, they can hit you. The second drawback is that you will have to bottle it yourself at home, which can be fun but involves a fair bit of work. This form of buying will save you enormous amounts - top grade wines for a fifth or less of the Irish price. But there are risks!

    Maybe the balance will be to do some buying in Bordeaux and Loire and then fill the rest at Cherbourg.

    By the way, if you are visiting Carrefour in Cherbourg, note that there are different entrances to the car park for vehicles of differing heights. If you have a roof box or are in a van, you will need to check out the right ramp to use.

    Hope that helps.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,763 ✭✭✭✭ First Up


    I was in Super Valu (Superquinn) this morning and picked up their house magazine "Uncorked". Its a promo for their own stuff of course but there is a short, succinct article that describes the main wine regions and grape styles in France. Not very complex or detailed but it could be a useful primer for someone.

    As for prices, I noted that the Muscadet they are pushing is €10.99. You should get a similar wine in any French shop for well under €4, so that might be an indicator of the price difference at the low/mid range.


  • Registered Users Posts: 469 ✭✭ badker


    First up, thanks very much for your words of wisdom. It has given me a good start. I think the barrels would be a bit ambitious for 1st trip but good to know and will check out for future trips. I will pick up few bottles on way around wine regions then stock up nearer port on way back. Can u recommend any cheap to medium red wines to look out for?

    Thanks again for help!

    plan is 1st in bayeaux, then rennes, nantes, pay du fay park, Bordeaux, loire valley then home!


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,763 ✭✭✭✭ First Up


    badker wrote: »
    First up, thanks very much for your words of wisdom. It has given me a good start. I think the barrels would be a bit ambitious for 1st trip but good to know and will check out for future trips. I will pick up few bottles on way around wine regions then stock up nearer port on way back. Can u recommend any cheap to medium red wines to look out for?

    Thanks again for help!

    plan is 1st in bayeaux, then rennes, nantes, pay du fay park, Bordeaux, loire valley then home!

    Its hard to suggest a specific wine. You can buy a Bordeaux for anything from €2 to €75, so just suggesting a region doesn't help much. Price is probably your surest indicator of quality and after that its down to preference. €4-5 in the likes of Carrefour will get you wine that would cost two or three times that here but no point looking for the same labels as you won't find them.

    French wines are classified by quality and the system can be a bit hard to follow. Vin de Table is the lowest quality and above that you have Vin de Pays (country wine), AOP, VDQS and AOC . You can read up on it if you want to see what the various classifications mean but for good, solid, reliable wine at low prices, Vin de Pays is probably your safest bet and compromise between price and quality.

    Generally speaking, wines from Southern France are cheaper than Bordeaux or Burgundy and so can be better value. The bigger shops will have the shelves sorted by region so they should be easy to identify. Look out for Languedoc, Roussillon, Bergerac, Cahors or Tarn. However you should sample a few others as well. The €4/5 price will work for most, except possibly Burgundy which can be a bit thin at the lower prices.

    It is a complicated business though. The big shops will always have something on promotion and you can find some real bargains - typically good wines that are just past their peak. I've got some real good Bordeaux for €5-7 that would usually cost way more than that (even in France) but it had to be drunk within 6-12 months to get the value.


  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 42,408 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Beruthiel


    badker wrote: »
    plan is 1st in bayeaux, then rennes, nantes, pay du fay park, Bordeaux, loire valley then home!

    How long will you be in Bordeaux for?
    I'm biased towards that region.
    I particularly love Saint Emilion, if you have time you should visit it.
    A beautiful little town and completely surrounded, as far as the eye can see, by small little vineyards.
    Some of which you can visit to buy their wines.
    When drinking red wine, I will always chose something from that area and I prefer if it's been in an oak barrel for at least a year.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,322 ✭✭✭ Slaphead07


    Beruthiel wrote: »
    How long will you be in Bordeaux for?
    I'm biased towards that region.
    I particularly love Saint Emilion, if you have time you should visit it.
    A beautiful little town and completely surrounded, as far as the eye can see, by small little vineyards.
    Some of which you can visit to buy their wines.
    When drinking red wine, I will always chose something from that area and I prefer if it's been in an oak barrel for at least a year.

    I agree 100%. Actually I'd skip the supermarkets altogether and deal with vineyards directly. Don't assume price = quality and allow the wine to settle a bit once you get it home.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,763 ✭✭✭✭ First Up


    Slaphead07 wrote: »
    I agree 100%. Actually I'd skip the supermarkets altogether and deal with vineyards directly. Don't assume price = quality and allow the wine to settle a bit once you get it home.

    For sure the most interesting way to buy but a more limited choice and very time consuming. Also remember the VAT issue.


  • Registered Users Posts: 469 ✭✭ badker


    Beruthiel wrote: »
    How long will you be in Bordeaux for?
    I'm biased towards that region.
    I particularly love Saint Emilion, if you have time you should visit it.

    thanks for all the advise. Im looking at about 3 nights around Bordeaux. Was thinking off 1 in Bordeaux itself, 1 around saint Emilion and 1 around Medoc. Can you just pull into the wineries for tasting? as I don't fancy tours and being stuck to there itinerary. At the moment looking for accommodation in that area in around €50-100 per night. If u can recommend anywhere?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,781 ✭✭✭ Carawaystick


    badker wrote: »
    thanks for all the advise. Im looking at about 3 nights around Bordeaux. Was thinking off 1 in Bordeaux itself, 1 around saint Emilion and 1 around Medoc. Can you just pull into the wineries for tasting? as I don't fancy tours and being stuck to there itinerary. At the moment looking for accommodation in that area in around €50-100 per night. If u can recommend anywhere?

    Bordeaux is a lovely city, and well worth a day ambling around.
    I stayed in an Ibis near the Meriadeck shopping centre, on the edge of the city centre, had smallies with me so wanted parking/shops nearby.

    I like wines from the south more than Burgundy and Burgundy more than Bordeaux, but that's just my tastes!

    You could do worse than get a good wine retailer to give you a good bottle of Bordeaux, Langedoc, Cotes de Rhone and Burgundy, and with a bit of help, taste them all at a sitting here before you go, to get a feel of what you like.

    Most wineries will have a direct sales place, only the very big places will have tours or an overly formal setup.

    Most places will sell vin en vrac, or draft wine, in your own or their containers, which will be grand for a few days, and inexpensive.
    They'll usually sell boxes of 5-10litres and bottles also.

    Bottles and boxes will have the vat paid and marked, vin en vrac won't


    I presume you'll have a spare driver or two, so you can taste before you buy?


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