What is En Primeur?
En primeur is a French wine trade term for wine which is sold as a 'future', ie before it is bottled.
How does the system work?
Every spring in Europe the great cru classé properties of Bordeaux produce barrel samples from the previous year's harvest. These are then tasted and assessed by members of the international wine trade in Bordeaux at tastings that are known as the Bordeaux En Primeur or Bordeaux barrel tastings. The châteaux then release for sale a 'tranche' or proportion of their total production at an opening price. This is sold in strict allocation to wine brokers in Bordeaux, known as négociants. The négociants then sell the wine on to distributors around the world. Distributors then sell the wine to retailers. United Cellars cuts out the distributor, dealing directly with négociants giving you the best possible price.
Why does it work this way?
Mainly because it always has. Moreover, by selling to négociants, the châteaux effectively spread the risk of bad vintages, which they might otherwise be unable to sell. En primeur sales also provide the châteaux with a ready source of cash, which they would otherwise not recoup until the wine was bottled and sold.
As the system stands, the négociants are more or less obliged to buy whatever the châteaux sell. If the négociants don't buy what they are offered (in a bad year), they risk forfeiting their allocation for next year (which may be a great year). However, the system only works effectively in periods where strong world demand for the great wines of Bordeaux outstrips supply, as is currently the case.
Why buy "En Primeur"?
The opening En Primeur price is almost always considerably cheaper than the future price of the wine on the open market. En Primeur can also be the only way to secure wines that are available in very limited quantities (some properties produce as little as 200 cases a year).
Is only cru classé Bordeaux sold en primeur?
No. Winemakers whose wines are not classified growths, but whose quality and price justifies a futures allocation, also offer wines in this way. In some cases this is the only way to obtain limited-production wines on release.
Is it only Bordeaux that sells its wines as en primeur?
No, you will find en primeur offers from other wine regions around the world, including Burgundy, the Rhône Valley, Italy, California, New Zealand and Australia. Penfolds announced in 2005 that it would sell Bin 60A Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon-Barossa Valley Shiraz, and Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon, en primeur .
How easy is to get what you want?
It depends on what you want to buy. Because demand is so strong for the most sought-after wines, it helps if you are a long-standing customer of a wine merchant that is offering wines en primeur. If you're not you may have to go to the back of what could be a very long queue. However, you will have less of a problem with those wines which are more available and less expensive. At United Cellars we do our utmost to fulfill all client orders, even for extremely rare wines.
How long is it before I see the wine I have bought?
The wine normally stays in the Chateaux for two years after the harvest. For example the 2009 Bordeaux vintage was released in September 2012.
What does "In Bond" mean?
When the vintage is bottled and delivered to United Cellars, the cases are held initially in a bonded warehouse. This means that no taxes have been paid on the wine. If you request the wine to be delivered to you then the local relevant taxes will be payable by you in addition to the price. You can keep the wine in bond, please discuss your requirements with our team.
What's included in En Primeur Prices?
A description of the wine and prices will be set out in our en primeur price list and in specific vintage brochures. All prices are quoted as all inclusive of freight, taxes and delivery to United Cellars, we also offer pricing ex tax or "In Bond" where wines are store in our warehouse in the France.
Why do producers sell en primeur?
The big advantage for producers is liquidity. Without this early sale they would require more capital to finance their operations without income for several years. Selling en primeur means better cash flow.
En Primeur at United Cellars
How does En Primeur work at United Cellars?
1. En Primeur wines are purchased before they are bottled and released onto the market and while they are still lying abroad. En Primeur wines are bought can be bought all inclusive pricing or in bond prices (ex tax) - ie exclusive of WET & GST.
2. Once released by the Chateaux you can chose to leave your wines stored in bond either in Bordeaux or Hong Kong (HK deliveries will incur a freight charge) and not pay taxes, if you choose to have your wines delivered to Australia then taxes will be payable before they are released.
3. You will be notified of their arrival and asked for any further delivery instructions.
4. Only wines stored in Bond or with one of our partners will be eligible for resale through the United Cellars network.
Send us your wishlist of En Primeur wines or express your interest in updates on new releases.
Register your interest here for en Primeur 2012 and let us know what wines we can source direct from Bordeaux to you.