The Future of Futures

As I’ve discussed previously every spring the fine wine world turns its eye to Bordeaux for the en primeur campaign and the release of the previous year’s vintage as futures. Once a cornerstone of the Bordeaux business model, the past couples of years have been incredibly tumultuous and controversial and as the 2014 campaign is drawing to a close many people are beginning to wonder about the future of futures.  In fact many people are beginning to wonder about the future of the Bordeaux wine industry as a whole.

DSC_0002The modern en primeur system took shape in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in result to a slump in the market. Estates needed ready cash to fund their operations and began to sell their wines as futures. Over time it also became a way for critics and merchants to evaluate the quality of the new vintage. The estates would then use this feedback to set the overall pricing for the release, with the expectation that the futures prices would be a discount on the market price once the wine was released in bottle. The entire system is predicated on speculation and investment in the fine wine industry. And more importantly the system only works when everyone in the chain (chateau, wine merchant and consumer) is able to make money. Continue reading

Ain’t No Party Like a Bordeaux Party

Despite the controversy over pricing the past couple of years, the en primeur campaign is nonetheless a major annual milestone for the Bordeaux wine industry. The world sits up and pays attention as the Bordelaise release the first glimpse of the latest vintage. For the producers it marks not only the first sales but also a shifting of attention to other vintages. For the wine merchants it marks allocations and of course sales. For consumers, in theory, it allows first access to the rarest wines and a chance to special order any large format bottles. Of course the entire system is predicated on critical ratings, reasonable pricing and good wine. But despite the inherent pitfalls and the “Bordeaux bashing,” the system continues onDSC00434 Continue reading

Futures on the Right

IMG_1823Ok so after much procrastination and the interference of real life I am finally getting around to posting the final en Primeur post (we just aren’t going to talk about the fact that was actually at the beginning of the April).

After the Graves tasting on Monday and a day of magic on Tuesday, it was rather hard to rally early Wednesday morning for another long day of tasting unfinished wines. (Yes even us wine nerds do reach our limits sometimes) But rally I did, and of we went – this time to Bordeaux’ Right Bank.


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