If you’re looking to buy fine wine at a reasonable price, before it is even distributed on the market, an en primeur investment is the best choice.
An en primeur investment is when you buy wine before it’s been bottled. Think of it as a pre-order. You order the newest vintage from the winery, and after two to three years (the time it takes for the wine to finish barrel aging and be bottled), the winery or retailer ships the wine to you.
This type of investment is essential because it can take your portfolio to the next level. There’s a reason why so many seasoned investors almost exclusively buy en primeur wines. So, if you’re interested in starting a serious wine collection of your own, it’s important to know everything you can about the en primeur process.
How an En Primeur Investment Works
Most of the time, when wine experts talk about an en primeur investment, they mean fine Bordeaux. The Bordeaux region of France coined the term “en primeur” in the 18th Century. Wineries in the area started inviting wine merchants to visit the vineyards and assess the quality of the grapes still growing on the vine. The merchants would then buy those grapes based on what they thought they were worth. “En primeur” is a French phrase that loosely translates to the “new” or “first” of the fruit.
Today, the process works a little differently. An en primeur investment still typically refers to fine wines made in Bordeaux and sold before they’ve been bottled. However, nowadays the wineries invite professional wine critics and trusted retailers to the estate for an event called “en primeur week” during which the wines—not the grapes—are tasted. This event usually happens every April.
Instead of buying grapes from the vines, visitors at en primeur week sample wines that are currently aging in the barrel. Fine Bordeaux needs to be aged for some time before it’s bottled to develop the best flavor. Wine critics and retailers assess the quality of the wine in the barrel and often give it a score. This, along with other market factors, helps the winery decide what to charge per bottle.
Around two months later, in June, the vintage goes on sale for the first time. The wine still hasn’t been bottled at this stage, but you can now purchase whichever wines you’re most interested in. You are usually able to buy the wine through a retailer that offers wine futures. You then wait for that wine to be bottled and shipped, which takes anywhere from two to three years after you initially paid for it.
Is En Primeur Different From Other Types of Wine Futures?
Technically, an en primeur investment only applies to fine Bordeaux, since this is the only region that hosts en primeur week. However, the term can also loosely be applied to any investment where you buy a wine before it’s been bottled.
But, if you’re just getting started as an investor, it’s helpful to focus on Bordeaux futures. These are the best-established wine futures on the market, and they’re less difficult to find compared to rare California cult wines that aren’t released as futures very often.
You can also buy wine as a pre-arrival, but this is different from buying wine en primeur. Pre-arrival wines have already been bottled—they just haven’t been shipped yet. This is a valid investment option. However, be aware that these wines may cost a bit more than a true en primeur investment wine. As a general rule, the earlier you can buy a wine, the less it will cost per bottle.
The Top En Primeur Wines on the Market
To buy en primeur wine, the first step is to locate a retailer that offers these types of investments. You should find a retailer that sells en primeur wines every year and ideally visits Bordeaux themselves to sample wine from the barrel. The more close connections a retailer has with the top wine producers in Bordeaux, the better their en primeur selections generally will be.
To get started, here are a few essential en primeur investment opportunities you can take advantage of right now:
- 2021 Château Lafite Rothschild
- 2021 Château Haut-Brion
- 2021 Château Margaux
- 2021 Château Mouton Rothschild
- 2021 Château Cheval Blanc
- 2021 Château Angélus
- 2021 Château La Violette
- 2021 Château Palmer
- 2021 Vieux Château Certan
- 2021 Château La Mission Haut-Brion
- 2021 Château Haut-Brion Blanc
- 2021 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc
- 2021 Margaux Pavillon Blanc
- 2021 Haut-Brion la Clarte de Haut-Brion
Every year, Bordeaux producers release a fresh batch of en primeur wines, so it’s important to keep an eye out for the latest releases each spring.
Why En Primeur Wines Are Worth Buying
There are several reasons why so many serious investors prefer to buy en primeur wines:
- They’re usually sold for the lowest price the wine will ever be; wine tends to increase in price as it ages.
- You can secure your investments before they sell out on the wider market.
- You have your pick of the finest wines from the vintage, well before some other investors are aware they’re for sale.
- You have proof of the wine’s provenance, as it comes directly from the winery itself and never had another owner.
- You can sell your wine for a profit years later when the vintage is in higher demand.
An en primeur investment can be the foundation of a profitable wine portfolio. In fact, some investors exclusively buy en primeur Bordeaux and have had great success doing just that. So, if you’re looking to buy a few fine wine futures to round out your existing wine collection, or you’re a brand new investor building a portfolio from scratch, look into the latest en primeur releases from an experienced and knowledgeable retailer.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.