Buying wine in the barrel

Buying premium quality wine when it's still in the barrel (often referred to as 'En-Primeur')

Buying wine when it's still maturing in the barrel remains one of the most popular methods of purchasing for savvy connoisseurs, sommeliers and wine-collectors. Buying wine when it is still in the barrel is called 'En-Primeur' or 'Wine Futures'.

This form of buying was developed in Bordeaux by wine merchants and chateaux in the 20th century. There is some proof of 'futures buying' from way before but it was not the norm - in fact there are records showing the back in 58AD the whole yield was purchased when the grapes were still on the vine...talk about faith in the winemaker?

But back to the origins of en-primeur buying, it was after the the second world war that many chateaux were in financial trouble. Wine merchants on the other hand where pretty strong (financially) and has more say then even the first growth Chateaux (note that the 1855 classification had already been around for many years).

Many of the negociants used the situation to their advantage and agreed to purchase wines from the top chateaux in advance, thus acquiring even better prices and control for themselves, whilst providing sufficient cashflow to the struggling chateaux. It was a win-win scenario for both chateaux and wine merchant.

Fast forward to the 1970's and demand in fine wines started to increase dramatically. This gave the producers more power and they now started dictating prices to the negociants and using the extra cash to invest in better equipment and facilities, enabling wine production quality to better even more. Due to the low yields and increase in demand the wine merchants (négociants) continued to buy wines 'en primeur' so ensure they have enough allocation of the top wines.

1982 was the year were it finally all came together (hence our name). This was the legendary vintage everybody was waiting for and it didn't disappoint. Quantity and quality were so good that 1982 was declared as one of the greatest vintages ever. Interest and demand in bordeaux wines grew exponentially and those who bought wine futures were handsomely rewarded.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild Barriques
Chateau Lafite Rothschild Barriques