Every year France has a national wine fair known as the Foire aux Vins. This is essentially the sale season for wine, with many supermarkets and other retailers in the industry putting a selection of their bottles on offer for discounted prices. Angélique de Lencquesaing spoke to BFM Business about how best to make the most of the sales period from an investment point of view!
The new season is well underway now! What are you first impressions?
We’re certainly in the thick of it at the moment! The atmosphere is always pretty excitable for this event, actually. iDealwine’s Autumn Wine Festival began last Tuesday, and we saw a huge influx of clients on the site! This is a moment that wine enthusiasts love because it’s a chance to upgrade and renew the stocks in their cellar.
Since this has been such an unusual year, have you seen an effect on the Foire aux vins?
Of course, the current situation has brought changes in many respects. Some wine lovers will have depleted their cellars somewhat during the confinement, and the Foire aux vins gives them the opportunity to stock up.
How exactly have consumer habits changed?
There are three things to point out here.
Firstly, it’s clear that the economic situation is playing on the fear of many, making people more prudent in their wine purchases.
The second point is directly linked to the pandemic. When confined, clients have opted more for relatively easy-drinking wines to be enjoyed straight away. And these often at more attainable prices. I don’t mean that’s all they’ve opened, but there has been a definite shift towards these kinds of purchases. More generally, there are plenty of great deals in this year’s Foire aux vins that will be attractive in the same way.
The third point to note is how ‘cleaner’ wines have continued to be really popular. Organic, biodynamic and even natural wines are a phenomenon that continues to grow on a global scale.
So do you recommend that people go for the smaller-budget wines this year?
It all depends on your objective. If you’re looking to buy bottles that you’ll open soon, there are loads of good deals all over the place right now. This is also a side-effect of the current situation, with stock levels being relatively high, though this isn’t the case for all wines.
Since we’re here to talk about investments, we can allow ourselves a certain increase in budget since there are plenty of really exciting purchases to be made.
What do you recommend in terms of region and types of wine?
Traditionally, Bordeaux takes centre-stage for the Foire aux vins, so there are a lot of treasures to be discovered from there. And the good news is that we’ve seen several beautiful vintages come out of Bordeaux in recent years. I recommend choosing vintages that will age well (essential when investing) like 2018, 2016 or 2015. 2017 might be interesting, too, especially in terms of price, but this one will be more for drinking than for investing.
Are there any particular wines or appellations that you recommend?
Bordeaux has wonderful cuvées in all of its appellations, whether we’re talking big names from the Médoc, Graves or the right bank, Saint-Emilion or Pomerol. We have a penchant for this latter appellation because the domains tend to be smaller, meaning the wines are harder to find – another key for investment. Here, you should again lean towards good vintages, and even large formats if you can find them! It’s worth looking into some of the smaller wines produced without an AOC label, too, as there can be so really interesting things to discover.
Actually, it’s true that you can find some incredible Sauternes for prices that don’t reflect the work put into making them. However, in terms of investing, Sauternes takes a very long time to gain value.
What about other regions? Does Burgundy make an appearance in the Foire aux vins?
The rarity of Burgundy’s wines doesn’t make things easy, that’s for sure. However, we do find a few bottles in certain catalogues, more from the Côte de Beaune than the Côte de Nuits. You can find some lovely Pinots and superb Chardonnays from major appellations like Meursault, for example. These are the kinds of wine it’s worth investing in.
Do we see any non-French wines in these sales?
Yes, there are interesting wines from all over the world to be sought out. In terms of investment, the wines that increase in value the best are the finest Italian names from Piedmont and Tuscany, but it’s definitely a good idea to start considering wines from Spain, Germany and South Africa especially. The prices aren’t always as affordable as that, though, I’m thinking especially of the miniscule production of certain American domains where the wines sell for a lot as soon as they’ve left the winery. So you’re less likely to find this kind of cuvée in the Foire aux vins…
But how might someone find their way around all this if they’re not much of a connoisseur..?
In the specialised wine media there is a huge amount of work around the Foire aux vins. We even have a little look ourselves at what our fellow purveyors of wine have got on offer. Knowing as well as we do the prices and domains sought by the most seasoned wine enthusiasts, we can attest to the precision of the work carried out by Le Point, the RVF, the team at bettane&desseauve and Terre de vins, as well as more general newspapers who dedicate special features to this event. Their top picks are often well in line with ours!
So we should do our research first?
Yes, before buying it’s good to read what you can, compare prices and be reactive! These wines aren’t available in infinite quantities. And these are especially the ones that are more likely to be interesting in terms of investing. Getting informed on the usual price estimate for the wines you’re interested in is key to getting the best deals in the Foire aux vins!
For more information about the Foire aux vins, see this page: https://www.idealwine.com/uk/idealwine-s-foire-aux-vins.jsp