Every spring, Bordeaux wine merchants become the focus of attention for the wine industry over the course of a week. En Primeur draws attention from industry members eager to discover the potential of the latest vintage, harvested the previous September. The following is an overview of the En Primeur custom.
The principle of selling En Primeur
Exclusive to Bordeaux, selling wines En Primeur has been a custom since the 18th century.
This unusual technique involves selling wine when it is still in the maturation phase in chateau cellars. In the spring, wines from the previous vintage are presented, even though they can only be bottled and delivered 18 or 24 months later.
Bordeaux En Primeur is therefore akin to pre-booking wines.
This is what differentiates En Primeur from Primeur, or early-release wines, which are bottled and sold before the next harvest. Beaujolais is a case in point.
En Primeur sales are limited to a few properties, most of which enjoy Grand Cru Classé or similar status. This equates to approximately two hundred labels.
The system, which is only used by Bordeaux wine merchants, is a way of allowing buyers to taste the vintage early so that they can assess its quality.
An event for the Bordeaux wine industry
Over a week, people from the world of wine travel from around the globe and meet in the vineyards of Bordeaux. Wine merchants, importers, specialist journalists, winemakers and restaurant owners all come to taste Bordeaux wines.
There is a lot at stake for the chateaux that will be rated by their peers.
En Primeurs offer a great showcase for Bordeaux and have a substantial influence on the image of Bordeaux wines.
How are prices set during the En Primeur campaign?
En Primeurs also have an influence on the reference prices for the new vintage presented over the course of the week.
Prices are generally set within two months of En Primeur week. Industry members from around the world have been able to form an opinion about the quality of the vintage to be released, based on scores and reviews during the various tastings.
What are the advantages of selling wines En Primeur?
The En Primeur system is based on speculation. Buyers take a chance by banking on the increased value of the wine when it is bottled two years later. They must therefore be able to detect the initial signs of a top wine very early on in the maturation phase.
However, taking this risk gives them access to highly prized Grands Crus Classés whose prices will undoubtedly soar when they are released into the market. It is estimated that savings of up to 30% can be made compared with the price tag on a bottled wine.
Wineries also benefit from taking part in En Primeur week, which provides them with a cash advance and unrivalled visibility.
En Primeur is renowned worldwide and is an opportunity for the wine industry to discover the latest Bordeaux vintage. There is a lot at stake for the properties, but also for Bordeaux wine merchants during this unique week.