Supermarket chain Lidl will sell bottles of Bordeaux wine for just €1.69 each for a limited time this spring, as part of a box of six bottles costing €10.14 in total.
Sold individually, the bottles will cost €2.53, already an unusually low price for a bottle of wine from the Bordeaux region with Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) status.
AOP status means that the wine has been produced in line with regulations for grape growing, quality and wine production in the area it is produced.
The bottles will be available in Lidl supermarkets during the spring foire aux vins, a bi-annual wine sale in supermarkets and wine shops.
Whether sold in boxes or individually, the wine will still be priced below the national average spent on a bottle, which national wine organisation Intervin puts at €2.83.
Lidl justifies low price
Johann Boluda, head buyer for wine, beer and cider at Lidl France said the supermarket was able to offer such low prices for the wine due to the wide reach of the Lidl chain.
Lidl has 1,500 stores in France but operates a centralised buying process for thousands more stores throughout Europe. This means products are bought in huge quantities, driving down overall prices.
In preparation for the foire aux vins, the chain has bought hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine.
Mr Boluda told industry publication Vitisphere that market prices also have an impact.
He said: “In Bordeaux, prices have been relatively low for two years, there must be surplus stock.
“This is not an internal strategy, we adapt to the market price, to supply and demand.”
Producers fear brand will be tarnished
But wine producers in Bordeaux are concerned that the low price will reflect badly on their prestigious products.
Cédric Roureau, president of a local union for wine and spirits said to Vitisphere: “Bordeaux wine should be the stuff of dreams, and not be sold at a loss to attract customers.
He added: “To come out at €1.69, the wine must have been bought at an extremely low price.
“It doesn’t help anyone to sell Bordeaux wines at these prices.”
This follows a trend of so-called “Bordeaux bashing” which has arisen in recent years, following criticism of wines produced in the region from influential wine critics such as Robert Parker.
In addition, French consumers – typically priced out of buying expensive Bordeaux wines - now tend to buy wines from other regions in France that do not have to be kept for years before they can be drunk.
But, Mr Boluda denied Lidl was aiming to damage the wine’s reputation with its bargain prices.
He said: “I have no problem selling wines from Bordeaux either at a loss or at €5-10.
“Bordeaux bashing is more of an issue for grand cru wines sold for over €30, which are not in our price range.”