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Agen Sabung Ayam – Vans full of vin: why the booze cruise is back

Agen Sabung Ayam

It is worth the trek across the channel to snap up a bargain. Photograph: Gary Calton for the Observer

The cross-channel booze cruise, which virtually disappeared five years ago, has come roaring back. The sharp rise in the pound signifies Brits are returning in huge numbers to Calais to snap up £1.29 bottles of wine that price £5 or more back residence.

Calais Wine Superstore had to shut its two retailers for six months during 2010 as organization evaporated – a victim of the recession and the collapse in the value of sterling. But this year sales are up 25%, and it expects to shift 4m bottles. Owner Simon Delannoy says: “Cheap cross-channel fares and a considerably much better price of exchange are driving a massive increase in organization for us.”

Almost subsequent door, at Majestic’s Calais outlet, it is a similar story with sales up in the “low double-digits” this year as consumers take benefit of the strength of sterling.

The pound touched €1.43 this week compared to €1.15 in early 2013, which means that in sterling terms goods in the coastal ports of France and Belgium are now 25% cheaper than they had been. Meanwhile, Eurotunnel is providing day returns for a auto and passengers on Saturdays and Sundays for as little as £46, increasing to £60 for far more convenient time slots, although P&ampO has day return ferry sailings priced at £39 with six bottles of wine thrown in for free.

Prosecco at £3.33 a bottle is the huge seller at this time of the year, Delannoy says, but the main industry is wine priced at around £2 a bottle, which he claims is the very same quality as the mainstream UK supermarket offerings of £5-£6.

He adds that purchasers make a second saving by filling up with petrol as soon as they come off the ferry or tunnel – diesel sells for around 75p a litre compared with 110p in Britain, even though petrol is about 90p compared with 108p. There is small point in stocking up on either cigarettes or spirits, where costs are tiny diverse to the UK, but there are savings to be made on beer.

The main market is wine priced at £2 a bottle, which is the exact same quality as UK supermarket offerings of £5-£6

Delannoy reckons he may have lost some trade simply because possible buyers are put off by the risk of delays, closures and upheavals, specially at Eurotunnel amid the ongoing migrant camp crisis, even though P&ampO says its ferry crossings are the busiest in a decade.

The cheapest wine that Majestic sells in Calais is a Soldepenas red or white at just £1.29 a 75cl bottle, even though that is a “Calais exclusive” so can not be compared with the UK stores. The nearest direct comparison is its “soft and plummy” El Torito Merlot which sells for £5.49 in its mainland UK shops but is just £1.99 a bottle in Calais.

But additional up the cost scale the difference in between UK and French prices nearly disappears, largely because the tax element becomes a smaller portion of the price tag. For instance, a bottle of Margaux Chateau Marquis du Terme 2011 fees €37.90 (£26.50) in Carrefour – France’s equivalent of Tesco – but is only £22 at Fine + Rare wines in the UK. Nevertheless, champagne can nevertheless be a bargain, with Taittinger Brut on sale for less than £20 compared to around £35 in British supermarkets.

The typical British consumer buys around £300 of wine, Delannoy says, generally in the £2-£3 a bottle cost range. He stocks the new planet brands that are familiar to mainstream UK shoppers, such as Jacob’s Creek (£2.49 for its Pinot Grigio), Wolf Blass (£2.99 for its Eaglehawk wines), Blossom Hill and Hardy’s, which are rarely found in French supermarkets such as Intermarché or Auchan. He admits that when it comes to French wines his costs are no far better than the regional supermarkets. At Carrefour, the cheapest French wine we found on sale was Bordeaux Blanc – Les Petites Caves at €1.99 (£1.39). Majestic Calais stocks a wide variety of French wines at costs beginning from £1.99, such as its “perfect for parties” (study into that what you will) Cuvée Sainte Geneviève Rouge 2012. In its UK shops the same bottle sells for £5.49.

The trick is to go to Majestic in England first, where you can taste the wines, then pre-order them to pick up in Calais

So is it worth the trip? A person spending £300 on Majestic’s Geneviève Rouge would get 150 bottles that would cost £823.50 in the UK – a saving of £523.50. What’s much more, both Majestic and Calais Wine Superstore give free return tickets on Eurotunnel to buyers who pre-order at least £300 of wine.

However, if plonk is all you’re right after the quite cheapest wine on sale in Tesco and Aldi is just £3 a bottle, although Sainbury’s has lots of Very first Cape wine at £3.50 a bottle. Champagnes can also be discovered for about £10. But the Calais sellers say their plonk is a cut above the plonk on sale in Britain’s supermarkets.

Until he recently moved from London to the north of England, Jonathan White has headed to Calais up to 4 instances a year with his cousin, among them spending around £1,000 on wine – the final time for a 50th birthday celebration.

“The trick is to go to Majestic in England 1st, exactly where you can taste the wines, and then pre-order them to choose up in Calais,” he says. “We would both spend around £500 every, saving around £4 a bottle for the sort of wine we get. We’d also pop into an Auchan to get some low-cost beer, then get a nice lunch in a single of the many villages along the coast out of Calais. It was surely worth carrying out. I had a bit of an inside track as I was, for a while, Oz Clarke’s publisher, so I would get him to advise some great wines.”

EU rules mean British shoppers can get as a lot as they like, so lengthy as it is for personal consumption. About the only actual constraint is the weight of the wine in the automobile. Majestic reckons that the maximum load for a little family members vehicle is around 90 bottles of wine plus a handful of cases of beer, whilst a Ford Mondeo Estate can take about 180 bottles of wine plus five cases of beer, assuming there is a driver and passenger.

Frequent buyers will raise the suspicions of customs, who may possibly quit the automobile if they suspect the driver is aiming to sell the wine in the UK. “But that doesn’t occur so significantly these days,” Delannoy says. “Now customs are more concerned about discovering human traffickers than wine smugglers.”