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.
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.
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.