Buying ‘En Primeur’ means purchasing a wine before it is even bottled, let alone released – it is, in essence, a futures market. Originating in Bordeaux but now a concept found across the globe, one purchases the wine upfront, with the duty and VAT payable on arrival.
The mutually beneficial element to this is that the producer safeguards their cashflow and the consumer can purchase wines often at a favourable price point and, as demand often exceeds supply, be assured of securing their desired wine.
The wine is bought in-bond and has excellent provenance, meaning it is genuine and will have been stored with care. Provenance is one of the key things to consider in the fine wine market, especially for investment purposes. “Another advantage,” adds Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow, “is that you can, to a degree, choose the format you want the wine bottled in – bottles, magnums, double magnums…
Some may decide to buy speculatively as an investment, while others purchase from promising emerging producers (often the best chance of securing value for money) and support the winery.
Personally, I favour the latter and tend to buy from estates I have an emotional connection to. As a result, I have enjoyed drinking my way through some glorious bottles of wine with only a pinch of smuggery that not only can most people not get their hands on it but that I have aided a rising producer I admire.
Buying en primeur is also a great way to get access to in-demand wines from around the world, according to Matthew Horsley, buyer for The Wine Society. “It can serve as a gateway to producers, regions and styles that you may not otherwise go for.
“If you’re dipping your toes into en primeur for the first time, then The Wine Society is one of a few to offer mixed cases. It’s a great way to get an overview of a region, grape or producer that’ll help you build confidence for future campaigns”.
Of course, as with so many things, there is an element of risk. “You’re in effect purchasing a wine you haven’t tasted, isn’t finished yet, and may not be in its drinking window for years if not decades,” says Horsley.
“Unless you’ve been able to travel and taste in situ, you’re putting your trust in whomever you’re purchasing from”.
You also risk losing your investment if the merchant experiences financial difficulties.
For best results, Hargrove says to “Follow a merchant with experience and whom you trust, look at the price compared to the market price of other vintages, and only buy from a merchant who is established and has dealt in en primeur for some time”.
Wines of the week
Champagne Bollinger PN TX17, £83.96, Lea & Sandeman
The latest edition of Bollinger’s PN collection, this is a 100% Pinot Noir champagne with that typically rounded luxuriousness Bolly provides. Whispers of acacia, roses and smoke dance over bright stone fruit notes and vibrant bubbles.
Mirabeau Nude Pink Rosé 2021, £22, Maison Mirabeau
This Titan of rosé’s first organic and vegan wine with an emphasis on sustainability. Bottled in 100% recycled glass and finished with a paper collar rather than tin, this is delicious summertime drinking that polishes your halo as you sip.
Ferrari F1® Limited Edition, £30, Harvey Nichols
Named sparkling wine of the year four times by the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships, Ferrari Trento is the official toast of F1. Made using the traditional method this wine is crisp, fresh and linear with a creamy mousse and long finish.
Res Fortes Rouge 2016, £19.95, Plonk Wine
What a treat this was! Full-bodied and full of ripe, juicy red fruits with a beautiful texture and a satisfying sprinkling of black pepper and spice. A young producer making some fantastic wines for easy, enjoyable drinking.
Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana En Rama, £17, Tanners Wine
Sunshine means tapas and “what grows together goes together” so pair your padron peppers, salted almonds and slices of jamon with this chilled Spanish sherry. Dry and nutty with a salty, fresh complexity – it is the perfect accompaniment.