The sale of Champagne group Taittinger has gathered pace with "around half a dozen" potential suitors shortlisted to enter the second round of bidding, according to a source close to the sale.

The source told just-drinks today (18 April) that owner Starwood Capital had received around 40 bids for the Taittinger assets but had whittled down the offers for each part of the business.

Starwood is selling the Taittinger-owned Loire wine producer Bouvet-Ladubay and Californian winery Domaine Carneros, as well as the flagship Champagne house. The source said that "around half a dozen" offers had been shortlisted for each part of the business, although those bids also included offers for the whole portfolio.

The source refused to name the bidders but said those set to "enter the data room" and conduct deeper due diligence next week included "industrial, financial and local players". The source added: "All candidates fulfil the two criteria that Starwood wanted - to be financially solid and to have a credible project for the business, especially with regard to tradition and values".

However, the source revealed that Starwood was looking for "a minimum of EUR500m" for the Champagne assets, the world's sixth-largest. Reports in France had said Starwood was looking to accept an offer in the region of EUR400-500m (US$490-613m).

The second round of bidding is expected to last until the middle of next month. Last week, Spanish wine producer Freixenet refused to comment on reports linking it to a bid for Taittinger. Champagne producers LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Louis Roderer, as well as French private equity group Butler Capital have long been linked with an offer for Taittinger.

Starwood bought Taittinger when it paid EUR2.9bn for its parent Groupe Taittinger and an associated business, Société du Louvre, last July.