‘En Primeur’, which roughly translates to English as ‘wine futures’ is the concept of buying a vintage before it is ready for bottling, directly from the barrel. A customer will however not receive the wine that they have invested in until it has been bottled and distributed. At the ideal Wine Company we do not currently offer En Primeur wines, as we believe that they can be a risky investment; when buying this type of wine you have to place a certain amount of trust in the merchant in question, this means that you should only buy from established merchants that you can trust. That’s why we thought that we’d explore the concept of En Primeur wine and outline in greater detail why it’s something that we currently believe the Ideal Wine Company should not be offering.
As far as investment goes, the usual practice is to provide payment for an En Primeur wine a year or even 18 months before bottling and distribution and official release of the vintage. The wines that have a history of being offered on an En Primeur basis are Bordeaux, Burgundy and Port, although the practice is hardly restricted to these wines and it is a growing phenomenon. The process starts the spring after a Harvest, where wine experts will meet to sample the wines before they have fully matured; they have usually aged in the barrel for between 6-8 months prior to this point, and from there they assess the likely quality of the vintage. The major advantage is that at this point the wines are usually cheaper; however this of course comes with a set back as you are opening yourself up to two major points of risk.
The first of these is that you are banking on the knowhow of experts to ensure that the wine maintains the early quality it promised. Sometimes, things happen, things go wrong, and as a consequence the quality isn’t what you or the experts thought it would be. This means that even the cheaper payment can be too much for a win that seriously lacks the promise to make it as a standout vintage. It’s like playing the stock market; you can only use the knowledge in front of you to come to an informed decision and even then you can still get it wrong.
The second risk is one we’ve already highlighted. You can pay for an En Primeur wine and then not even receive it; usually because you have bought from a less than reputable merchant. There is an element of risk in any purchase, however in a purchase such as this, where you are waiting for months for the final product, this risk increases. You have to make sure you know and trust the merchant in question before you even think of buying an En Primeur wine. This is why we do not currently offer En Primeur wine, it can prove too much of a risk and we prefer to offer you products that we know are going to add value to your wine collection.