Monthly Archives: September 2013

Put your BIB on !

About 60% of Bordeaux is château bottled – or should I say chateau boxed?

French wine consumption may be dropping (currently 46L/head compared to 88L in 1982) but Bag in Box (BIB) sales are increasing and now represent about one litre in three of still wine sales in supermarkets and while bottle sales of Bordeaux decreased in the French supermarkets last year (-2%) Bordeaux BIBs have continued their growth to 14% of sales (+3%). This is important for Bordeaux, as 58% of Bordeaux sales remain in France of which 56% is sold in super and hypermarkets.

For many years this type of container was associated with an anonymous blend of entry-level wines – no longer. Not only is the quality increasing to include AOC wines but it responds to a demand for a more eco-responsible packaging, being lighter to transport and with a Carbon Footprint considerably less than a traditional glass bottle.

Being able to serve a glass or two of wine, then close the tap and keep it fresh for a couple of weeks is very appealing. Not only to consumers as it allows wine bars and restaurants to meet an increased demand from customers for wines by the glass, without fear of wastage.

Bordeaux negociant Sopardis specializes in this niche market with their ‘Verre après Verre’ brand. They offer 50 different wines, red, white and rosé, two-thirds of which are Bordeaux AOCs, including Médoc, Pessac Léognan, Graves and Puissguin Saint Emilion.

The Verre après Verre BIB

Their USP, compared to other Bag in Box conditioners, is that the owners, Jean-Paul and Sophie Lafarge, have their own bottling lorry or rather ‘bagging line’ that they take to each Château that they work with ensuring each Box carries the ‘Mise à la proprieté’ mention. Mobile bottling lines outside the cellars of the most prestigious chateaux are a familiar sight in Bordeaux – even Chateau Lafite uses a specialized mobile bottling line for it’s many properties. Sopardis’ concept works on the same principal and the quality control does not stop there. They have their own in-house wine consultant and sommelier, Stéphane Boutiton. He overseas the wine making and blending for each of the wines in their range from Bordeaux to Corsica and the Loire to the Côtes de Provence.

Vinomania in Bordeaux

The ‘Verre après Verre BIBs are available in most major French supermarket chains but the best place to sample them is at one of their ‘Vinomania’ wine Bars. There are currently five across France.  In Bordeaux Vinomania is conveniently tucked away in Cenon at the end of the Avenue Thiers, a perfect stop between Bordeaux city and Saint Emilion. Stephane will serve you a flight of wines from the wide selection to accompany the daily menu. You are spoilt for choice as he can open them all without fear of them oxidising any time soon.

A glass of Verre après Verre





Bourgeois Buzz

Those of you who were listening to me in the USA over the last couple of weeks might remember my enthusiasm about the up coming Cru Bourgeois classification. Well here it is.

The annual rigorous selection has decided upon 256 Medoc properties for this award in the 2011 vintage covering 4 400 ha chosen from the 8 Medoc appellations.

This represents about 30% of the Medoc production; 28 million bottles each of which will be clearly identifiable by the flash code sticker, which also enables you to learn more about the wine on the Cru Bourgeois Web site.

Flash code stickers on the neck of the Cru Bourgeois bottles

It is fascinating to follow the evolution of this classification since it’s inception in its present form, with the 2008 vintage. In 2008 243 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc were selected representing 25 million bottles. 2009 saw 246 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc for a total of 32 million bottles and in 2010 260 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc for 32 million bottles

This clearly shows that the quality and quantity of the selection follows the quality of the respective vintages. The lower levels of production in 2011 clearly indicate that these properties are following the example of their Cru Classé neighbours in operating a similar strict selection process in a more challenging vintage, reducing their production to maintain the quality that we have now come to expect from these wines carrying this accolade.

The Bourgeois buzz at the Bourse

Bordeaux was out in force to celebrate the baptism of this new selection this morning at the beautiful 18th century Palais de la Bourse on the Bordeaux waterfront. If you are in London on Thursday 19th September they are presenting to the UK wine trade there too. If can’t make that don’t worry they’ll soon be found on a wine list near you.