The Ultimate Guide to Collecting Bordeaux

collectible bordeaux

Collecting Bordeaux will complete your fine wine portfolio; the classic wines make an excellent investment. | Image source: Flickr CC user Axel Hoehnke


In the world of wine, some things never change. The critics’ collective opinion of the best Bordeaux wines, which was established over 150 years ago, remains largely unchanged today. In 1855, during an international exhibition in Paris, the best Bordeaux wines were classified into categories. Among the wines distinguished were: Château Haut-Brion, Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux, and Château Mouton Rothschild. Today, even an average vintage of these Premier Crus is highly sought after and will cost a collector more than $1,000.  

The Evolution of Bordeaux Châteaux  

Among the châteaux included in the 1855 classement, one that has maintained excellence and offered a consistent investment potential over the years is undoubtedly Haut-Brion, whose owners acquired La Mission Haut-Brion in 1983. Maintaining its label under the new ownership, La Mission has continued to create many perfect score wines, including some spectacular white blends, which are always in high demand.

Updated every ten years, the 1855 St. Emilion classification has added some fabulous Premiers Grand Crus to the list: Château Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Angélus, and Château Pavie.

Some of the wines that offer the greatest investment potential, however, come from a subregion that has never undergone classification. Thus, Château Petrus, and Le Pin, both from Pomerol, have consistently created wines that are among the world’s most coveted. Wine expert Clive Coates has even created his own ranking of Pomerol wines, and he has given Château Petrus the unofficial title of Premier Grand Cru Classé (A). With or without classification, wines from the mentioned châteaux have been favorites of collectors for many decades and, in some cases, over 150 years.

Collecting Bordeaux

Every year, the world’s top Bordeaux experts flock to the region to sample wines from the barrel. Their opinions set off the machinery of En Primeur sales, and thus the Bordeaux frenzy begins once more.

The original idea behind En Primeur sales is that buyers who purchase wines on futures get a better price. However, with the Bordeaux pricing madness driven by high demand from China and small crops, the barrel tasting season was recently on the verge of disappearing forever. It seemed the world demanded winemakers keep the En Primeur prices reasonable. Comparing attendance between 2012 and 2013, the En Primeur tasting attendees sent a clear message to producers: the same tastings that took place in bustling rooms in 2012 were half empty in 2013.

Fortunately, the 2014 Primeur event enjoyed a good attendance and the 2014 vintage was received with great acclaim. En Primeur appeared to be back on track for Bordeaux. While buying En Primeur involves extra costs like insurance, transport, and storage, it can still be a great investment. For buyers with patience, the rewards can be outstanding, as a great Bordeaux vintage from a top chateau will offer superb drinking and profitable sales within a few decades. Whichever the case, professional storage is key to guarantee a flawless aging process.

Buying in Bond vs. Buying out of Bond

When you buy wines as an investment and intend to resell them, you can keep your profits tax-free if you buy them under bond. The wine will be stored at a certified bond warehouse. While stored there, the wine is exempt from VAT, customs, and excise duty. If the wine is sold while stored under bond, you do not need to pay any taxes as the wine will only be taxed once it is taken out of storage. Storing wines in bond in the UK costs a handful of pounds per year. While in bonded storage, the wine is also insured. All of these factors make buying Bordeaux wines in bond quite convenient, especially when wines are purchased to be resold for a profit.

Know Your Bordeaux, Know Your Merchant

Unless you plan to visit the wineries yourself and buy directly, your merchant is the most important link in the chain that connects you to the world’s best Bordeaux. Vinfolio knows wine and stores each wine in ideal conditions.

Reliability is also key as provenance and authenticity documentation are often required, for example, in the case of older Bordeaux.

In the case of futures sales, they can be a fertile terrain for scammers, as you pay for wine long before you have it in your hands. In 2007, a Colorado Fine Wines company was sentenced to pay 11 million dollars in restitution for wines clients had bought and never received. Choosing a reputable merchant with a spotless track record, such as Vinfolio, is a guarantee that you will receive the wine you have paid for in a timely manner and in prime condition.

Buying Through Auction

When buying wines at live and online auctions, consider several factors. Delivery dates, sales tax, and buyer’s premiums are some of the key aspects. In the case of most auctions, you need to add a 20-25% buyer’s premium to get the final selling price. Also known as the “hammer” price, this extra cost can significantly add to the price of a wine. Vinfolio, on the other hand, offers online auctions, with zero buyer’s premiums. When you bid on, you need to add only sales tax and delivery costs to get the final price of your purchase.   

Managing Your Cellar

Whether you store your wines in your own cellar or elsewhere, it is important to keep track of drink dates, shifting prices, and life expectancy. If you want to make a profit from new releases, it is important to hold them for a while. If you love to enjoy wines of a certain age, you must keep close tabs on their prime drink dates.

Vincellar is a cellar management app by Vinfolio which can automate management for all that information using an intuitive interface. You can upload labels and purchase invoices, check wine scores, track drink dates and location, monitor pre-arrival status, and check tasting notes. If you keep a large and varied collection, keeping track of all this information is the best way to maximize your investment and your enjoyment of wine.

The Future of Bordeaux

With thousands of producers and a rich regional variety, Bordeaux is poised to continue dominating the world of fine wine trading. Since its earliest winemaking days, the terroir has never ceased to produce original blends that only get better with time. While a pricing bubble recently made Primeur shopping less profitable than it should be, the market appears to be settling into more favorable conditions for speculative investments. 

Vinfolio has a long, fruitful history as a trader of Bordeaux. In fact, it sold one of the rarest bottles of Bordeaux in the world: a 1947 Cheval Blanc, at a price tag of $135,125. If you are buying, selling, or collecting Bordeaux in a state-of-the-art cellar, Vinfolio can help. We make the most promising vintages available and arrange pre-ordering for new releases. Our unique relationship with top Bordeaux producers puts us in an ideal position to offer competitive pricing on select vintages for your fine wine portfolio.

Whether you are starting your high-end wine purchasing or adding to an established collection, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to gain access to the world’s best collectible wine.

At Vinfolio, we help our clients buy, sell, store, and manage their most
treasured bottles of wine. But in our spare time, we’re just a group of
passionate and slightly obsessed oenophiles–we love sharing a great
glass of vintage Champagne, followed by a Burgundy, and then a
Bordeaux, to get things started. We’re always obsessing over the latest (and oldest) vintages, and we want to share that knowledge and passion with our readers.