Purchasing ´Wine Futures´/ En Primeur

We are now in June, and the harvest from 2015 is now resting peacefully in barrels and the time has come for the most exclusive wines from large wineries to be offered for sale “en primeur” (wine futures).

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En Primeur, or ´wine futures´, was a concept created in Bordeaux by the most famous and prestigious châteaus. The wineries mark a price lower than that of the bottled wine. Given that vintages can vary and without an official rating, buyers make and investment and must evaluate how they believe the future vintage will be, having to predict the evolution of the wine.  Here come into play the skills of a good taster of advanced predicting whether it would be bad, good, very good or excellent vintage and what that would impact on the buyer’s investment. Therefore an advantage of buying wines en primeur is that the wines may be considerably cheaper during the en primeur period than they will be once bottled and released to the market However, that is not guaranteed and some wines may lose value over time.

An example of this is the 1982 Cheval Blanc (excellent vintage). The wine sold en primeur in 1983 for around €350-450 per box, while now you can except to pay around €9500, i.e a return on your investment up 21 times. However, in 1997 wines went for a slightly higher price en primeur, with a bottle of Haut Brion costing €150 costing the same in 2003.  On the other hand, in 1997 the wines went with a slightly higher price in advanced and was not at all a good year so for example, a bottle of Haut Brion that cost 150 €, cost the same in 2003. The vintages in Bordeaux can vary year after year given the climate variations that occur.

Year after year, the importance of the vintage is being diluted with the ever growing knowledge and understanding of viticulture and winemaking, although the character of the vintage is still important. As a market, the law of supply and demand also applies to the world of wine, with prices going up and down depending on the availability of wine. Some of the best wineries in Spain are rapidly gaining a reputation worldwide, with their best wines desired around the globe. This increase in demand has seen prices increase, resulting in the introduction of en primeur sales in Spain to delimit the sale of these wines. Therefore sales in advanced is a good time to have some of the best wines at a more affordable price and also, perhaps, the only time that can be purchased, as many cuvees produced in limited quantities sell out before even hitting the market.

And why are we explaining all of this? Because it will soon be the case that you will be able to purchase the best wines in Spain en primeur, for more or less half the price of the bottle once it has been released onto the market. Of course, you have to wait around 1 or 2 years for those wines that still lie in the barrels before they reach your doorstep.

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