Buying Bordeaux en primeur
Chateau Latour, one of the five Bordeaux first growths, announced recently that the 2011 vintage of its prestigious red wine will be the last it will be parting as futures, or en primeur.
En primeur refers to a long-established practice, originally associated with the purchase of young Bordeaux wine.
Wines bought en primeur have not yet been bottled and are still in the barrel. They are bought in bond – i.e. excluding duty and VAT.
In a letter to its negotiants and merchants, the winery said that from next year its first and second wines (Chateau Latour and Les Forts de Latour) would be sold when the wines were considered “ready to drink”.
At that stage, the wines will be sold through negotiants, but this decision is widely seen to be catering towards markets like Asia, where there is a greater desire for ready-to-drink wines. Chateau Latour’s gradually decreasing allocations over the last decade are also thought to have allowed the winery time to build up stock levels in its cellars to support the strategy.
However, while the benefits for the Asian market are clear, merchants in the United States and Europe could end up selling vintages of Chateau Latour against bottles of the same vintage released directly from the winery’s own cellars.
Which could mean, that having supported Chateau Latour for many years, they could find themselves competing with the winery itself.
Further down from Bordeaux, in Sauterne, the world’s finest sweet wine, Chateau d’Yquem, has also announced that their produce will not be sold en primeur this year.
This is due to unfavourable trading conditions, director Pierre Lurton announced. Citing the poor reception that greeted the red wines recently, Mr Lurton is reported to have said he will release the 2011 Chateau d’Yquem at a “more suitable moment” to “suit the excellence of the wine of this vintage”.
However, Mr Lurton stressed that this move was not a precursor to a similar announcement made by Chateau Latour and that he considered it “important” as a system. “It is simply that we feel it is not the right moment”, he concluded.
Meanwhile up the road in Pauillac, another first growth red Bordeaux, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, as an anti-fraud measure, has announced that it is to seal all of its bottles, including wines from the 2009 vintage, with the Prooftag bubble seal.
This anti-fraud seal is basically a capsule with an alphanumeric code which authenticates individual bottles and a unique bubble code that cannot be reproduced.
The combination of the codes enables to authenticate your bottle and access information about the bottle, previously registered by the Château and stored in a database.