September is the season of the French supermarket “Foire aux vins” – wine sales. It coincides with vintage time, presumably as everyone needs to move stocks on and make space in the cellars and warehouses for more wine.
Midi Libre, the department’s daily local paper, devoted a full page to the matter. I was a bit shocked to read that wine from Domaine Henry (Saint-Georges-d’Orques near Montpellier) would be appearing in the sales. This estate is long established and right up there with finest of the region, making wines that deserve some ageing – I still have some 2001. The wines are only sold to cavistes and négociants and in this case have been sold on to a supermarket as they weren’t selling or an export order fell through. The article states the wine is 18,95 € “Foire des vins” price but only 16 € from the property, which will also be the caviste price.
This isn’t an isolated example. This Midi-Vin caviste’s blog is rightly keen to point out they sell Clos Marie L'Olivette (a top Pic St Loup estate) at 13,30 € vs. 15,50 € at a supermarket, although after deliver charges there won't be much in it.
Both the intermediary and supermarket are making money out of this at the expense of the consumer who presumably thinks "foire aux vins" means a bargain. Perhaps more worrying is that these are established wines that are struggling to sell. Maybe, but I’ll be optimistic and believe that the cavistes or négociant is taking the lazy route to shift the wine in these examples.
Note that non-foire supermarket prices I’ve seem are generally identical to a caviste’s.