The Bordeaux En Primeur System

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Ever since April, wine consumers have started to receive price quotations of the Bordeaux 2016 vintage.  This relates to the famous En-Primeur system.

The Essence of En-Primeur System

  • Basically, all the top Bordeaux wine producers sell their wines through this system, which is also known as The Futures
  • The wines are sold in barrel, several months after the harvest and long before the wines are available in bottles
  • The producers offer their wines through designated Negociants (wine merchants) who in turn sell to a network of wholesalers
  • Payment for the wines will have to be made within the year once the order is confirmed, usually divided into 2 or 3 installments
  • In 2 years’ time, the wines will be ready for delivery

The Origin of the System

  • This system originated around 1620 with the Dutch firm Beyerman ( the Dutch by the way were the earliest developer for Bordeaux wines)
  • These wine merchants were called Negociants and some of them have over 350 years’ experience in such business now
  • In the beginning, the owners of the Chateaux only took care of the vineyards, made the wines and put them in barrels
  • The Negociants were then responsible for aging of the wines, bottling, to sales and distribution
  • In 1972, due to the AOC system requirement, all the top estates started to chateau-bottle their wines

Relation Between Chateaux and Negociants

  • The negociants are important to the Chateaux since they provide the early cash and market development
  • Now there are over 400 active negociants in Bordeaux
  • Each chateau uses a number of negociants

Competition Among Negociants/Chateaux

  • The Negociants need to compete for allocation of the production by the estates
  • The competition does not take the form of price, but in the aspects of services and customer development
  • Today some producers form their own negociant companies to directly market their wines
  • Starting from 2012 vintage, Chateau Latour ceased to offer its wines through this system and sell when the wines are ready to deliver

2016 En Primeur

  • The offers have just been put since April
  • Currently, the notably one is Chateau Palmer at Euro 240
  • Meanwhile, Montrose has surprisingly made available rather limited quantity at Euro102
  • Overall, people consider 2016 vintage giving a mini-revival for Bordeaux

If there are further important news on the current offers, the Editor will let our Friends of K-Cellars know.

Thank you for reading :)