Article - Bordeaux - 11. May 2021

Bordeaux 2020 En Primeur Has Started

The traditional En Primeur pre-sale in Bordeaux has started and with high quality and smaller quantities, really interesting investments will be possible for the first-movers.

The busiest time of year in Bordeaux is during the En Primeur tastings. Here, wine buyers and reviewers from all over the world flock to Bordeaux to get their first taste of the latest vintage. Normally, there is a crowd everywhere, especially around the great classified chateaus on the Medoc peninsula.

This year will be different, as many either can't or won't travel to Bordeaux to do the tasting due to Covid-19. Most reviewers will be sitting at home in safety, receiving samples to rate. "Same procedure as last year", you might almost be tempted to say. And if that is true, then there is also something for wine investors to take advantage of.

Bordeaux 2019 Paves The Way For Investments In 2020

Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur was particularly interesting for wine investors, as it was the first time in a decade that attractive prices were seen for a number of the investment-worthy wines from Bordeaux. For a number of years, it has been the story of Bordeaux that both demand and consumption have been lacking, while prices have been unreasonably high. As a result, bottles have piled up in cellars all over the world. The mighty chateaus of Bordeaux have simply been too proud to adjust prices to the market.

Therefore, Covid-19 was a convenient excuse to lower prices without losing dignity, and for the first time in several years, there were actually good investments to be made. Now it's on to the 2020 En Primeur, where early indications suggest that there will be good deals on investment-friendly wines once again - if you are able to move quickly. So now, the fight begins to get your fingers on the most coveted wines in Bordeaux.

Bordeaux 2020 En Primeur Has Investment Potential

This year's En Primeur campaign is about to start in Bordeaux, and the wines of the 2020 vintage are in demand, as there is already an indication of high quality and a decline in production of just over 10%.

The summer has been generous for the winegrowers in Bordeaux and has created good conditions for high-quality wines and a reasonable yield. However, it is crucial that the wines are offered for sale in a price range where price increases can reasonably be expected when the wines actually hit the market and the critics' final scores become available.

The 2019 vintage showed that there were indeed good acquisitions to be made, and the same can be expected from En Primeur 2020. The entire Bordeaux wine region felt the impact of Corona last year. With almost no sale to hotels and restaurants, they have to make themselves attractive to the private consumers.

This year, this will mean that prices will be at the same level or even below the level of the 2019 vintage. When that happens, there are some really good deals to be made, both as a consumer and as an investor. 

In addition to the usual long-term potential for wine investments, there is also potential for short-term profits when acquiring into a En Primeur pre-sale. The wine critics rate the wines on the basis of so-called "barrel tastings" and thereby give them a preliminary rating. Only when the wines are then released on the market in a few years, they receive their final rating. By then, the wines have developed further and sometimes achieve better ratings than the original ones - creating a basis for short-term price increases.

What Is En Primeur?

En Primeur is basically about acquiring a wine that is otherwise hard to obtain. As a buyer, you pay for the right to a wine that is not yet ready and has not yet been bottled.

The trade in the best Bordeaux wines is centralised around the Place de Bordeaux. Here, the negociants (wine merchants) are united in a union that strives for equal conditions for all market participants. Historically, the chateaus of Bordeaux suffered from a lack of liquidity and therefore sold the coming vintage at favorable prices. It took place in the spring after the harvest in the Place de Bordeaux, where the negociants bought at favorable prices.

In recent decades, however, the premise has changed dramatically. Now, the best wines from Bordeaux are luxury goods coveted by a large crowd of wine lovers around the world, and the powerful chateaus are not suffering from lack of funds and forced to sell off their best holdings.

As a result, we now see that the chateaus offer a smaller portion of the harvest to the negociants as En Primeur, which the negociants then resell to their customers (importers) around the world. The individual importers then sell on their share to their customers, who will often be the consumers. In this way, consumers and investors can ensure the right to a wine that will not be ready for another two years or so. The chateaus now have money and therefore an even better cash flow, and the costumers, whether investors or consumers, have the pleasure of having ensured themselves "the next big thing".

In the past, it was almost certain that the wine would be released at a higher price when it was finally released, and it is still the rule rather than the exception that this is the case. However, there have been recent examples of the opposite, where wines have been released at the same or perhaps even lower price than at En Primeur. In other words, you should be selective when you acquire wine En Primeur.

Timeline: Trace the wine's journey from the grapes in the vineyard to the bottles in your collection:

  • Autumn 2020: The grapes are harvested and vinified at the chateau. After fermentation, they are placed on classic barriques (oak barrels) of 225 litres. Each grape variety and parcel are kept separate until the final blending (mixing) and bottling.
  • 2021 January - March: The individual barrels have finished their alcoholic fermentation. Now, they are warmed by the spring and the malolactic process begins, in which the malic acid is converted into lactic acid. When this process is complete, you can start tasting and rating the individual barrels.
  • April 2021: En primeur tasting. Now the individual barrels are rated by the winemaker and a sample is created, based on an expectation of what the final wine should be like. This sample is then rated by buyers and journalists. On this background, they come up with their recommendations of the wine. Any rating given at this early stage is given an interval to indicate where the wine will end up when it is ready. From here, the wine is sold in advance - En Primeur.
  • 2022 Spring: The wine is ready for aging in the barrel, the taste of the barrel is integrated with the fruit. At the tasting, the final wine is finalized. The barrels are blended in a large tank where the wine settles before bottling. Now, the wine is ready to be bottled and distributed all over the world.
  • 2023: The wine is physically released on the market and the various wine experts will endeavor to taste a selection of the vintage in order to communicate what the wine is like in its final version, followed by the wine receiving its final score. This score can, of course, change over the years as the wine is continually re-evaluated.

En Primeur In Other Contexts

The Bordeaux market has opened up other wine regions in addition to the classic wines from Bordeaux. Today, negotiants also trade in premium wines from other areas, as producers see an advantage in offering their wine in one place, at one price, and to as many buyers as possible. So, you will find wines from Napa Valley as well as from South America and Spain offered from Place de Bordeaux.

The term En Primeur is also used by wine merchants around the world, who simply sell a wine before it is in stock. Therefore, you can also see the term used for wines from Italy and Burgundy.

Practical If You Want To Buy Bordeaux En Primeur 2020 For Investment

No one knows for sure when the wine will go on sale and at what price, so you need to act fast if you want to take part in the great potential. At RareWine Invest, our trading department is ready both in the mornings and evenings during the next month and is searching En Primeur for good investments that we can offer for the fast movers. If you are interested in being part of the opportunities, sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page and you will be among the first to be notified.

With the risk that the wines will be sold out in a few hours, we will send out emails with a higher frequency than usual in the near future. We will only offer wines for investment that we have already evaluated as having investment potential in terms of ratings and prices compared to corresponding vintages from the same producer.

As quick action is required, En Primeur emails rarely outline an actual investment case, as we only offer wines that we have evaluated as being particularly in terms of pricing and investment potential.

RareWine Invest’s Opinion

Unquestionably, there will be good investments to be made for En Primuer again this year, but as always, caution is advised. It is already being reported that the 2020 vintage has many similarities with the 2018 vintage, which has just been given a bottle score. If that is the case, then you should be excited, because it will be of high quality. Among others, the prestigious The Wine Advocate has given the magical 100 points to no less than 6 wines.

But quality alone does not make the difference. The price must also be right if you as a wine investor want to profit from the pre-sale. En Primeur 2019 was the first time in many years, where we saw some wines traded at attractive prices due to the external circumstances concerning Covid-19. The pandemic is still holding large parts of the world down and gives hope that there will be the opportunity to buy some of the attractive Bordeaux wines at reasonable prices again this year.

Although the 2019 vintage is not yet physically released on the market, there are already solid price increases to be found among the investors, who were the quickest on the trigger for last year's En Primeur. Among the most popular wines is Cheval Blanc (St Emilion), which went on sale for €400 a bottle and is already traded at €425 a bottle. Also, Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac), which was offered for sale at €350 per bottle is now traded at €380 per bottle. These, as well as the other En Primeur 2019 wines, have in common that they are still waiting for the final rating by the wine critics when they next year are physically released on the market, therefore the potential biggest upside is still in play.

The fact that the harvest yield of the 2020 vintage is 10% lower than last year makes good promises for the future in terms of an En Primeur investment. In a couple of years, when quantities are scarce on the market and wines are even approaching their drinking window, you will see prices rise. So, as a wine investor, you have every reason to look at Bordeaux En Primeur this year.

The carefully selected 2020 En Primeur wines are not an expression of changes in our standard recommendation for portfolio composition but are an expression of the recognition that this year there is potential to make a good investment once again.

En Primeur Sale 2020

Below we are constantly updating the list of 2020 En Primeur wines that we recommend for investment.

If you want to be among the first to receive offers when the wines are released, you can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

*All prices are in EUR ex. customs duty, tax and VAT for delivery to a bonded warehouse. Prices including customs duty, tax and VAT can be sent on request. The wines are only sold in whole cases unless otherwise specified and the price is per bottle. Minimum order size € 2,500. Assumes a total minimum investment of € 10,000. Prices may have changed since release of this article.

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