What Is En-Primeur?

Buying wine en-primeur is basically buying wines while they are still in the wineries’ cellars.  Its modern origins date back to just after the Second World War when French producers found themselves short of cash with wines to sell and no easy routes to market.

At the time the merchants – the negociants – were hugely powerful and agreed to buy wines while they were still in cask before selling them on to the public at their leisure.  The idea was to help producers’ cash flow while allowing wine lovers to order wines early at a discount while they waited for them to mature, be bottled and shipped.

It’s an idea that has evolved slightly over the years – the most important change being the shift of power away from the merchants to the producers which has seen some big-name château, most notably Château Latour, pull out of the system - but the basic model remains the same:

  • The spring after the previous year’s harvest an allocation of wines are offered for sale to the merchants
  • The negociants offer these wines to wholesalers and retailers
  • The wholesalers and retailers in-turn offer them to private clients who pay in full and await shipment
  • The wines are left to mature for anything from one to over two years, depending on the producer
  • When ready for release the merchants contact their customers and ask them how and where they would like their wines shipped. By default, En-primeur wines are offered on an in-bond basis, which simply means they need the VAT and duty paying when they are delivered.  If you would rather not pay these fees – something that wine investors would often sooner avoid – then they can be delivered to a bonded warehouse and the wines will remain under bond indefinitely

Why Buy En-Primeur?

There are several reasons why you may wish to buy wine this way, these include:

  • They can be cheaper –as they are (supposed!) to be offered at a discounted price
  • You can get wines that may be hard to find otherwise –as demand for the world’s finest and rarest wines grows so they become ever rarer and harder to find. En-primeur can be a good way of getting wines like Petrus, Lafite or Mouton Rothschild, especially in great years such as 2019
  • You can sometimes choose the format you want the wine bottled in –from halves to imperials, some château will, for a fee, allow you to choose the size of bottle your wines come in
  • Investors find it useful –the ability to effectively defer duty and VAT payments – or even avoid them altogether – makes good investment sense

How To Buy En-Primeur?

At MWH Wine we are old hands at buying this way and we have purchased a selection of excellent wines from the ‘miracle’ 2019 vintage.  You can view our list of 2019 Bordeaux here, but if you would like some more help or are after a specific wine then please contact Mike on 0118 984 4654 or email MWH Wine here.