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Introduction

January is always an exciting month for the world of wine. It is the time when we get the first En Primeur offers.

In January 2021, we have started with 2019 Burgundy and 2019 Rhône. Investing into fine wine can seem intimidating initially, so I have put a handy guide together below to help you make YOUR first steps. You can also find a quick video guide on this topic.

What is En Primeur?

En Primeur (EP) refers to an offer, extended by wine shippers or wine suppliers to you as a customer. This gives you the chance of purchasing wine prior to bottling or physical release to the market. Like every investment, this offers an opportunity of securing sought after wines or in general scares wines for a preferred price. All prices are quoted without VAT or Duty. By law, NO ONE can ask you to pay this in advance.

En Primeur like the majority of investments pays off after a period of at least 5 years. It is also worth noting wine is considered as medium to high-risk investment. 

What is the ‘En Primeur’ buying process?

En Primeur buying process by Stefan Neumann MS Master Sommelier

Which estates/producers to buy EP?

I can only imagine the answer to this question, and it would be a very long one. Everyone you ask will have their own recommendations they like to share (or not). It’s not only a personal decision but it is also important to bear in mind that every investment is a risk. To give you hereby two personal examples and recommendations:

I bought some Château Haut-Bailly 2016 EP and the reason for this were a few:

  • Veronique Sanders (GM) left a lasting impression on me when tasting the wines.
  • I have tried the wines for several years in different environments and with different people (good for open discussions) and the quality always convinced me.
  • It seems that their entire range of wines is getting the same quality-driven approach.
  • Having tried 100’s of wines in this year the quality to price ratio always stood out.

I bought some Chambolle Musigny 2017 by Georges Roumier for several reasons:

  • Well known producers and since the mid 80’s on a consistent upwards quality-driven approach.
  • My experience in restaurants told me that regardless of time and current state of affairs, his wines can demand a very premium price plus perform very well on secondary markets.
  • His philosophy and approach of making long-living and exciting wines. His statement is quite simple “We don’t make Pinot Noir, we make wines from terroir which expresses itself through Pinot Noir.”

Storage

The most underrated element of EP purchases, but think about where you will keep the wines after they are delivered to your home. I choose a combination of keeping the high-value ones In Bond (for safety and provenance), and ordering some of them in for storing in my wine cabinet. (Recommendation below)

Suppliers

Here is a list of suppliers and shippers who have been in the EP business for many years. They all have specialised themselves towards a specific region (e.g. Burgundy) or have unique relationships with legendary producers (e.g. Corney and Barrow and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti). 

In no particular order

  1. Clark Foyster
  2. H2Vin / adVINture
  3. Thorman Hunt
  4. Lea & Sandeman
  5. Wine Society
  6. Berry Bros and Rudd
  7. Flint Wines or Stannary Wines
  8. Farr Vintners
  9. Armit
  10. Corney & Barrow
  11. Justerini & Brooks
  12. WoodWinters

Tools to help you decide what to buy

  1. The Liv/Ex The Fine Wine Market (Also available in the monthly Decanter magazine)
  2. Wine search engines (e.g.: Wine Searcher); good for comparing prices and observing current trends. Besides, you can see how your investment is performing.
  3. Information about the region. Do your own research; please see my recommendation for several books below.
    • You are into Burgundy – Jasper Morris ‘Inside Burgundy’ gives you a great insight for vineyards, producers, and an expert inside.
    • You are into Bordeaux – Several good books on the market, try ‘The Complete Bordeaux by Stephen Brook.
    • You are into Rhône  – Wines of the Rhône by John Livingstone-Learmonth or Wines of the Rhone by Matt Walls
    • You are into USA – The New California by Jon Bonne
    • You are into Italy – The Finest Wines of Tuscany by Fine Wine Editions
    • Good overall info and maps – Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion of Wine and The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson
  4. Magazines like Decanter, Wine Spectator, Club Oenologique, The World of Fine Wine Magazine

Watch the video here

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