Buying wines En Primeur, particularly in Bordeaux, can seem like a very daunting prospect with confusing jargon and various important dates to remember. In reality, however, this is not the case and at IG Wines our sales team are committed to ensuring the smoothest En Primeur process for any of our clients. Below we explore the history of buying En Primeur and the many benefits it can bring to the discerning Claret investor or drinker.
En Primeur is the French term for buying wine ‘in youth’ and is effectively a futures market. This is because when you buy En Primeur you are buying a wine after it has been made but before it is bottled. There are many advantages to this somewhat archaic system that is historically linked to Bordeaux. In the aftermath of the Second World War when many Chateaux were poorly financed, wealthy merchants agreed to buy wines in advance from some of the region’s top producers. This provided the struggling Chateaux with the essential cashflow and also allowed the merchants to set their own market prices.
The En Primeur process remains almost unchanged from its small beginnings and more recently this process has been adopted for wines from Burgundy, the Rhone, Italy, California and Port. These campaigns continue to allow producers to reinvest in their estates, leading to improvements in the vineyards and wineries.
How does En Primeur work?
Roughly six months after a vintage has been made, the En Primeur process begins. For Bordeaux En Primeur, thousands of negociants, critics and members of the wine industry descend on the region every Spring. The top Chateaux across Bordeaux host a myriad of tastings and events for the trade over the intense week to showcase their offerings for that year.
Following these in barrel tastings, the Chateaux begin to release their wine. This is done is stages, or ‘tranches’, which are priced according to the success of the previous tranche. The first tranche is often the most coveted and competitive to obtain, with the top Chateaux often using an allocation system. Prices are then typically released to merchants later in the Spring, with tranches continuing to be released into the Summer. At this point, the published scores from critics can help buyers to navigate the vintage and the plethora of wines available, in addition to reports (such as our own) that are published shortly after the En Primeur week.
Reasons to buy En Primeur
Buying wine En Primeur has a number of advantages that make each campaign all the more tempting to get involved with:
- Whether buying wine for investment or pure drinking pleasure, by buying En Primeur you can often secure the wine at its lowest possible market price.
- Purchasing wine En Primeur are perfect for those who have an attachment to a certain Chateau as it is a great way to support the estate – particularly if you are looking to build a vertical collection.
- En Primeur can give you access to rare or highly allocated wines that may otherwise be harder to secure once released onto the market.
- A unique aspect of buying En Primeur is the option to get unusual formats, such as Double Magnums, as the wines are bottled to order.
- The provenance of En Primeur wines is unmatched, as you are buying directly from the winery straight into your bonded account or home cellar.
What's the cost?
The price of wines released En Primeur are exclusive of UK duty and VAT as they are sold under bond. This means that once the wines have been bottled and become physical in the UK, buyers have two choices:
For those who have bought En Primeur as an investment or wish to keep their wine in bonded storage, storage costs will need to be considered. At IG Wines, the storage at London City Bond Dinton is charged per annum at the following rates ex VAT (subject to change):
– Up to and including 6x75cl is £6.25
– More than 6x75cl, up to and including 12x75cl is £12.50
Clients whose wines are kept under bond can then sell on under bond once the wines are physical in the UK, as long as the wines remain in a bonded warehouse approved by HMRC.
Anyone who wishes to take delivery of their wines to their home cellars will need to pay the UK duty and VAT for the wines once they are withdrawn from bonded storage.