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In order to enable the client the opportunity to own a particular vintage wine before it is bottled, wines are procured much earlier while they are still stored in barrels. Such system of procuring the wines while they were still in barrels is known as en primeur.
Buying wines en primeur offers the buyers the opportunity to secure wines that may have very limited quantities and be next to impossible to get after they are released. In the case of some exceptional vintages, an all year’s inventory of wines could be allocated or purchased prior to the bottling of wine, even before they are released to the consumer market, and such scenario often happens to some of the classified Bordeaux estates.
In a nutshell, en primeur enables investors to take on a ‘buy low, sell high’ strategy, given the fact that the price during en primeur is significantly lower as compared to the price when the wines are released. Purchasing en primeur is equivalent to owning a wine since the beginning of its life, an ultimate assurance of the wine’s provenance, which is also extremely crucial from the perspective of investment.
(a) Vinification Process
Each year, around the month of September, Châteaux’s grapes are harvested and fermented in vats and will be subsequently transferred into oak barrels for further fermentation and maturation. Subsequently, these oak barrels will be kept in the Chateaux for 14 to 20 months until the wines are ready to be bottled. This process is known as the vinification process.
(b) Preliminary Rating of Wines
The tasting and evaluation of wines begin from March to April, where invitations will be sent to members of the international wine trade by the wine producers. This is the time when members of the international wine trade such as wine critics, wine journalists connoisseurs and exclusive brokers get to personally taste the vintage from the sample barrels and provide their preliminary rating based on the expected wines’ quality once they are bottled and mature through sufficient course of time. Such preliminary rating can have a huge impact on the en primeur release price.
(c) Published Reviews of Wines
After the wine sampling, reviews about the wines such as the vintage evaluation, tasting notes and vintage reports will be officially published. Aside from the published wine reviews, numerous factors such as the preliminary ratings, market demand and general economic sentiments, will also affect the pricing of wines, pegged by the owners.
(d) First Release of Vintage
The Châteaux will organize an official launch for the first release of their latest vintage at a pegged price from May to mid of June. At this stage, only the négociants are entitled to secure and acquire the wines under a stringent allocation. Normally, the négociants will only offer these wines to their most preferred buyers and brokerage companies with whom they have built a long-standing relationship. Generally, the wines will be released in a number of ‘tranches’ where each release will be priced differently based on how the previous one is sold.