Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Buying unknown wine in France...

Sorry , been away in Scotland, where there is very little in the way of wine news....

Anyway, someone replied to my previous posting about buying dodgy stuff in France and it may have seemed hasty - let me clarify.

If you can buy a wine you know and like either from a shop or, better still, from a good producer and avoid the horrible taxes we pay here, fair enough. My problem is when people buy any old rubbish that they find in the supermarket in Le Havre or Roscoff or wherever just because it is cheap. If you factor in the cost of the trip (if it is a specific booze cruise), the corked wine that you can't return, the wince factor(can you put a cost on grimacing every time you taste it??), it's probably not as cheap as it seems. Cheap and good and available are three words that just don't live together. You can get any two of the three to fit, but never the three - try it!

Also, my experience is generally (I know there are exceptions) once a wine is above €20, it is often the same here as it is abroad. Zenato Ripassa is €21 here and €19 - €20 retail in Verona for example. Pesquera is normally more expensive in Spain than it is here.

Champagne is an exception, I know, but the only people who are not making any money on champagne are retailers - margins are pathetic on champagne. Of course, the fact that over 60% of champagne in Ireland is handled by one importer doesn't help...


Paul said...

Hi Gabriel
I quite enjoy your blog. I would have to take issue with this post however. I have done a couple of runs to France, and have found that generally if a wine is above EUR20 I can get a much, much better deal over there.

For example, I visited Domaine Phillip Chavy last year in April and stocked up quite significantly. I purchased his Puligny 1er Pucelles for €40, Puligny 1er Folatieres for €35 and his Puligny Corvees des Vignes for €25. The 2006 vintage of this wine is on your list at €49.99. I purchased his Meursault Blagny 1er for €30 and his 1er Charmes for €35. I didn't purchase the Meursault Narvaux, which I see you have on your list at €44.99 but I can see on the pricelist that accompanied my invoice that it was €24. A significant saving I think you'll agree!

I found that this level of saving was pretty typical across Burgundy, not necessarily just at the domaines, but also at good wine shops, like Le Cavon de Bacchus in Nuits St Georges.

I'm not really having a go at you for having high prices - I think it's good that these wines are making their way to Ireland at all. However, I think it is pretty wrong to say that a committed wine enthusiast who goes to the trouble of creating a tasting plan with appointments at select producers cannot make significant savings on purchases in France. Of course choice is another factor - when visiting Philippe I had the choice of his premier cru wines, multiple vintages, none of which are available from wine shops in Ireland.

Similarly we were able to source reasonably priced basic wines (Bourgogne Blanc & Rouge) from the likes of Domaine Leflaive, Denis Mortet, Anne Gros and others that we simply would be unable to buy, at any price, here in Ireland. It's not for everyone, and of course you have the pain of driving a van full of wine back through France and into Ireland but I am certainly happy I did it a year on, with a healthy supplies of fantastic wines (obtained generally at 30-50% savings) in my cellar.



Gabriel Cooney said...

As i thought I made clear, you can get value from dealing direct with producers and I have absolutely no problem with that - the more Irish people know and learn about good wine, the better. I don't know that shop in Nuits, but all the shops in Beaune were extortionate and more expensive than Ireland.My problem is with the idea of the booze cruise where you just go to the nearest supermarket to the port and stock up on whatever the supermarket chain couldn't flog to the French. This is not clever wine buying and is not good value. Hope it's clear this time!!