Bordeaux sold as futures, called en primeur in France, is around a two year process through a series of phases. For us, it generally begins early April, when we travel to Bordeaux and visit the Chateaus that host tastings for the trade. We evaluate the potential quality of the vintage harvested during the previous year and taste many of these wines. For the most part the wines are barrel samples and still have a year or two before release.
Over the course of the next month or two, the Chateaus release their trade prices for the vintage based on the initial response to the wines, other world conditions and what they think they can sell the wine. There is no fixed schedule and different Chateaus offer their wines at different times. Some houses, like the prestigious Chateau Latour choose not to sell en primeur at all. With very few exceptions, no one deals directly with the Chateaus; they deal with the negociants. Vintage Wine Merchants then buys directly from negociants.
Buying futures allows one to secure an allocation of a highly coveted wine by paying for it in advance. These futures may be your best opportunity to secure the wine and may prove to be a bargain if the overall market demand escalates the price. However, as with any purchase, there is always the risk that prices may drop. Predicting the quality and demand of any wine is a gamble, and economic factors can strongly influence prices. Vintage Vinny always says, buy wine to drink and enjoy – that’s what it is made for.
The end of the cycle typically occurs wine arrival which is around two years later. As an example, next month (June 2022), we are expecting to finally receive our 2019 Bordeaux futures that we committed to in April / May 2020.
If you plan to buy Bordeaux futures, work only with reputable merchants who have a history of delivering the wines their customers order.