Bordeaux trivia (V) — the en primeur system

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In April 2012, Chateau Latour announced its decision to leave the en primeur system from the 2012 vintage onwards, which was one of the biggest stories of the year in the wine world. So what is en primeur?

Image: Chateau Latour by Jean-Bernard NADEAU

The en primeur system can be simply explained as a method of buying Bordeaux wines in the very first year of the wine’s life, before it is matured and bottled.

This helps chateau owners pre-sell a proportion of their wines and secure a healthy cash flow, before the wine is physically released for sale onto the market.

For buyers, although the pre-paid wines will not be delivered until at least two years later, they’re able to secure the sought-after wines, and often pay less than when the wines are physically released. This is also the reason why buying en primeur is considered a method of investment.

But in recent years, together with the global economic recession, buyers of en primeur are being more cautious.

One of the uncertainties of en primeur is that the wine may lose its value over time, and can even fail to be delivered. Finding a trustworthy wine merchant can help to reduce these risks.

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