What is En Primeur?

What is En Primeur?

En primeur or ‘wine futures’ allows you to buy wine while it is still in barrel. Wines from the previous year’s harvest are sold on the understanding that they won’t be shipped until they are bottled. When that will be depends on the region and the producer. If you buy Bordeaux En Primeur, you may have to wait over two years to receive your wine. 

The Benefits of En Primeur


What are the advantages of En Primeur wine?

Whether you’re a collector, a wine investor, or just a good old-fashioned wine lover, buying wine En Primeur can make a lot of sense. The main advantages of En Primeur wine are:

  • Price – traditionally wines are offered at a discount price. The system was created after the war to help cash-strapped Bordeaux châteaux. Powerful local merchants – the negociants – bought up wines in bulk and sold them to wine merchants around the world who’d have them shipped when they were released. In most En Primeur campaigns, especially in Bordeaux, properties offer their wines in batches or ‘tranches’. Each tranche tends to be more expensive than the last, so theoretically the sooner you buy, the less you’ll pay.

En Primeur wines can also work out cheaper as the critics won’t give their final scores until the wines are bottled. Leading wine writers will offer provisional scores when the wines are offered, but won’t commit themselves until they have re-tasted it from the bottle. Provisional scores are often given in ranges such as 94-96 or, even more tantalisingly, 96-98+. Anyone who buys fine wine will know the difference a two or three-digit score makes to the price of a bottle! Buy a wine En Primeur that lands a 100-point final score from the Wine Advocate or Vinous, and you’re likely to be a very happy buyer.

  • It’s a chance to get rare wines – some top wines are made in such small quantities that buying them En Primeur can offer your best chance of getting some. Highly sought-after wines from Saint Emilion or Pomerol may only release a couple of hundred cases En Primeur. As demand for these wines has soared, driven largely by wine investors, many properties now offer wines in 6, 3, or even 1 bottle cases to try and satisfy demand.
  • They can be easier to sell – in the fine wine world, provenance is everything. Buyers want to know a wine’s history and want them in perfect condition. Selling wines you’ve bought En Primeur when they become ‘physical’ – after they’ve been bottled and shipped – meets this criteria. The wines have just left the producer, after all.  
  • You can delay or avoid pay duty and V.A.T. on your wines – when your En Primeur wines become physical, you may be able to choose how these wines are shipped. The options are:
    1. Duty paid – you’ll be asked to pay customs duty of around £32 per case plus 20% V.A.T.  This done, you can have the wine shipped anywhere and enjoy it at your leisure.
    2. In-bond – if you have access to a professional cellarage service, you may be able to ship your wine under bond. This means you can delay paying the duty and V.A.T. If you sell your wine under bond – something wine merchants, investors, and overseas buyers often prefer - you can avoid paying these taxes altogether.

Top tips for buying wine En Primeur

Buying wine En Primeur can make a lot of sense. As we’ve said it can work out cheaper and allow you to get an allocation of the finest and rarest wines. There are a couple of things you should consider before you take the plunge though: 

  1. Buy from a merchant you trust – this is vital. Buying wine En Primeur involves paying for something that may not be available for years. You need to be sure that the merchant you’re buying through can get your wines and will be around to deliver them. Perfect Cellar with its 5-star Trustpilot rating and highly experienced, well-connected buying team is the merchant you can trust when buying wine En Primeur
  1. Buy early – in great years competition for wines is fierce, and in many regions, producers are offering less wine for sale En Primeur. In Bordeaux, top châteaux are holding more wine back until after it’s bottled - Château Latour has withdrawn from En Primeur completely. Prices also tend to rise as the campaign progresses, so if you want the best wines at the best price, buy early.

Like to know more about buying wine En Primeur?

We hope you’ve found this En Primeur wine guide useful. If you’d like to know more about Perfect Cellar’s En Primeur service, please contact us or check out our En Primeur offers here.

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