Bordeaux trivia (V) — the en primeur system


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.

All rights reserved by Future plc. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Decanter.

Only Official Media Partners (see About us) of may republish part of the content from the site without prior permission under strict Terms & Conditions. Contact to learn about how to become an Official Media Partner of