The French blogging scene is a rather unknown phenomenon at the international level. That’s why I didn’t miss the opportunity to meet some French bloggers in Paris at the initiative of the store chain Monoprix. Monoprix is the equivalent of Ralph’s in the US – a middle upscale grocery store with a nice wine selection.
Monoprix just opened a new store, Monop’ Store, in the trendy Saint-Emilion shopping center located in the old “chais” of the now defunct wine quarter in Paris. Wine bars, trendy restaurants, nice stores thrive in this elegant center. Monoprix stores offer a selection of wines in their stores for the traditional September wine fairs. The selection itself was done in a rather original way: Monoprix selected a few of their customers to be part of a jury to select some of their wines. The jury knew also the origin of the wine (Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc.) and the price point. Question: would YOU buy this wine at this price on our shelves? The wines selected by the customers will then submitted to the final approval of two French famous wine critics, Thierry Desseauve and Michel Bettane. The selected wines were then singled out on the shelves with a special aknowledgement in the “Gourmet” brand of Monoprix. The “Gourmet” series of wines represents about 10 to 15% of the wine brands sold in Monoprix stores.
To promote this new selection process and the “Gourmet” brand, the Monoprix Internet Manager (with the help of the Sowine Agency) imagined to ask several wine bloggers to taste their selection of wines being promoted during the September wine fairs all over France. About 10 bloggers met at the Monop’Store in the Saint-Emilion quarter. Most of them were… men, French speaking and only interested in tasting the wines. From what I heard, the wines were very eclectic and represented in fact a rather wide array of tastes and styles. Which means that French wine drinkers, mostly Monoprix customers, are certainly different from what we imagine: they have diverse tastes, don’t hesitate to select more “difficult” wines and enjoy easy to drink wines at the same time. We’re far away from the image of the traditional French wine drinker – either “amateur” of great Bordeaux or Burgundy wines or drinker of mediocre table wines. I just wished I could have a better description of the wine consumers on the MOnoiprix panel.
It is significant that this first experience was launched by a middle size distributor. It is a good way to associate consumers, producers and bloggers to promote wine in a country that seems to be losing its interest in one of its best accomplishment – a pleasant lifestyle associating wine and food.