What is En Primeur?

A Guide to buying wine ‘En Primeur’ with Davy’s

Every year, many regions from around the world release their wines early whilst the wine is still in barrel, up to two years prior to bottling, in a practice called ‘en primeur’. The most famous of these regions include: Bordeaux; Burgundy; Napa and Piemonte, but there are increasingly more offering their wines this way.

Each year we offer these wines to you, our customers, following travel to taste the wines in situ, or at an organised tasting closer to home, to give an opinion on what the vintage in question is like and which wines to look out for.

The wines are shipped to the UK 2-3 years after the vintage. Buying En Primeur is usually the best way to secure stock of rare and fine wines, at the best price.

What does buying En Primeur mean?

Producers in some of the most famous regions in the world of wine release their wines to the market early before they’ve been bottled, while still in the barrel. For example, the 2018s from Bordeaux, not due for bottling until later this year, were offered to our customers during the Spring of last year (2019). These won’t hit our customers’ cellars in the UK until the Summer of 2021, three years after the harvest and two years after they were made available to buy.

The release price of en primeur wines excludes UK duty and VAT (Currently £26.76 on still wines and 20% respectively).

Why do producers and Chateaux sell their wines early?

The en primeur concept of buying was created to give the producer much needed cash while their stock was tied up ageing in expensive barrels.

For many now, the need for cash is not so pressing, but the free large-scale marketing and publicity surrounding the calendar of releases means that various regions have an engaged and captivated audience of consumers ready and waiting to buy en primeur, so the system has changed little over the years.

Why should I buy a wine that isn’t even close to being ready?

The most obvious answer is the price. To incentivise buyers to part with their cash, Chateaux, Domaines and Wineries price their releases attractively at en primeur, with the general rule of thumb that the latest release should be the cheapest available on the market. If that’s the case, there’s a very good chance the price will go up once the wine is available physically, in bottle. In turn, that can create a secondary market for many wines, which has led to an increased interest in investment in wine.

You might also buy at en primeur because a wine you follow closely or have a particular fondness for can be difficult to get hold of. Buying en primeur often guarantees you the option to buy that same wine again the following year, in what is known as an ‘allocation’. If a wine becomes very popular, it may be impossible to get hold of outside of having an allocation.

It seems like a no-brainer – where do I sign up?

There are certainly benefits but also some risks. The market price for any wine may fall as well as increase after release. Using a long-established and trusted merchant is the best way to negate some of these.

For example, 2008 Ch. Lafite was released en primeur in Spring 2009 at £1,850 per 12 bottles (under bond*). Within a year it was trading at over £6,000 per 12 bottles, and within two years of release was trading at over £14,500 per 12 bottles, a whopping 680% increase on the release price.

However, by the end of year three following its release, it had dropped to below £5,500 per 12 bottles, leaving anyone who bought on the way up, out of pocket. Today it trades at just over £6,000 per dozen. A tidy profit for those who bought it en primeur.

2008 Ch. Lafite is a rare exception to what is usually a very steady market. On average, a sought-after wine from a good vintage might see a bump of between 10% and 20% when it is released physically.

 

When are the next en primeur releases?

We expect to see a delayed 2019 Bordeaux campaign begin later this year, before the 2019 Rhone wines in the Autumn, followed by Burgundy 2019s in January 2021.

 

What is included in the En Primeur price?

The price of the wine includes insurance and shipping to the UK but is exclusive of Duty, VAT and any shipping to your home address once released from bond. When the wines arrive in the UK, Duty and VAT can be deferred further if the wine is stored ‘in bond’ in a registered bonded warehouse. If you intend to re-sell your wines in the future, it is advisable to store them in bond.  Duty and VAT are charged at the prevailing rate. Currently UK duty is £26.76 per case (12x75cl) and VAT is 20% but these may change at any time. Delivery fees available on quotation.

 

When are En Primeur wines shipped to the UK?

Bordeaux wines are tasted in the April after the vintage. The wines then spend on average a further 12-24 months in barrel, plus additional time for bottling and shipping to the UK, arriving around 30 months after the harvest. As an example, Bordeaux 2018 will arrive (‘land’) in the UK early to mid-2021. Burgundy wines are tasted in the autumn, the year after the harvest. The wines are bottled after around 10-18 months in barrel and landed in the UK 18-24 months after the harvest. As an example, Burgundy 2018 will land in the UK in late summer/early autumn 2020.

Will I have proof of purchase and title?

On receiving your order and settlement, we send you a ‘Cellar Certificate’, as proof of ownership ‘Ex-Cellar’, i.e. your wine is still in barrel at the estate. On landing in the UK, the wines are stored in bond (‘IB’), on your behalf, in our Customer Private Reserves (see our cellarage terms for more information). On arrival of your wines in to our bond you will be notified and asked for any further delivery instructions.

Duty & VAT correct as of May 2020. Other duty rates apply to Sparkling & Fortified wines. No other discounts or offers apply to En Primeur wines (online offers, case discounts, Reward Card Points and Free Delivery do not apply).

If you’d like more information or to sign up to email alerts on en primeur and other fine wine release, please contact our fine wine team – [email protected]