The En Primeur Week in Bordeaux is everywhere in the wine press from the beginning of spring. But do you know what the Bordeaux en primeur wines are? In this article, the teams at Château Cantenac Brown will discover the en primeur wines and give you all their secrets. Before starting this article, it is important to differentiate the sale of “primeur wines” from the sale of en primeur wines. Indeed, “primeur wines” are wines sold before the spring following the harvest. The sale of en primeur wines, as in Bordeaux, refers to the sale of wines whose maturation is not yet complete.
History behind the En Primeur Week
The sale of en primeur wines dates back to the 18th century. During this period, merchants bought the grapes and then took care of the maturing, bottling and marketing. However, it is only in the second half of the twentieth century that the “primeurs” as we know them today became institutionalized. This process consists in selling the wine to the merchants while it is still maturing. It will be delivered only once bottled; that is to say approximately 18 months later.
Since the end of the 20th century, the primeurs in Bordeaux have become a real tradition. Tasting and visits to châteaux with professionals are intensified. This short period of time presents great stakes: it is a question of marketing the new vintage and promoting it.
Why buy wine en primeur?
Buying wine during the primeurs in Bordeaux has a double advantage: the first for the buyer and the second for the domain.
For the buyer, buying a wine en primeur generally leads to a substantial saving. Indeed, since the wine is not yet bottled, it is generally sold at a lower price than the one you will find once it is officially on sale. Moreover, buying wine with this method often allows you to access to certain bottles for which there may be a high demand. This is a particularly interesting way to guarantee a good supply for your wine cellar. Think about it to be sure to have a bottle of Cantenac Brown in your cellar.
On the other hand, participating in the primeurs also has important advantages for the Château. First of all, this mechanism allows the Château to sell its production quickly, without having to wait for the maturing period, thus avoiding mobilizing too much cash. In addition, this system allows the Château to have access to a large distribution network and a highly efficient logistics chain, thus ensuring its distribution to the four corners of the world.
How does En Primeur works ?
The primeurs in Bordeaux are reserved for professionals (even if individuals can buy wine during the primeurs through a wine merchant). Organized by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux
and by different groups, the primeurs are a real marathon for the whole wine world: from the chateaux to the merchants, without forgetting journalists, critics and wine lovers. The great classified growths of 1855 participate in this great event.
During this period, the rating of the great wine critics is also particularly important. Indeed, these tastings, reserved for professionals, provide valuable information on the quality of the vintage as well as on the quality of the wine you wish to buy. These notes and opinions are distributed to the general public through the most important newspapers and the specialized press, and are of great importance to ensure the proper marketing of the wine.
Once this tasting period is over, the chateaux put their wine on sale, which will find takers among the merchants. At the end of this stage, the wine finishes its maturation at the Château before being bottled and delivered to the buyer. It will then be able to reach the most beautiful cellars and the greatest tables in the world.
Do the en primeurs wines exist elsewhere than in Bordeaux?
En primeurs wines are one of the major differences between Bordeaux and other wine regions. This event and this marketing method makes it a notable expression throughout the world. That being said, the virtues of this model lead to a growing interest from certain regions or large producers.