Are we about to see the beginning of the end of the annual Bordeaux en primeur campaign?
For as long as I have been following wine, a key point in the calendar has been the Bordeaux en primeurs, when cask samples are shown to the trade and press six to seven months after harvest, and then the young wines are sold as futures.
It’s a situation many have complained about, because it seems stacked heavily in favour of the Chateaux. The samples are unfinished wines, and not the final blends (necessarily); the critic scores are then used to sell the wines. There’s a lot of hype around the whole event. Bordeaux effectively shouts, ‘look at me!’ for two weeks. Or more.
Well, first-growth Chateau Latour (pictured above) has decided to quit primeurs. This will be its last. That’s huge news. It was broken in a blog post by James Suckling, and the news spread fast on twitter. Chris Kissack has confirmed that this is indeed true in a very balanced piece.
Not only have Latour decided not to take part, but they have also decided to only release their wines when they think they are ready. That’s smart. They can afford to hold on to stock, and then speculators and pension funds don’t make their margin. I reckon many of the top properties have been holding onto a fair bit of their wine for the last few years anyway.
If too many other top properties go the same way, then primeurs will collapse. The buzz will have gone. In some ways, that’s a good thing, because primeurs sucks. But, as Kissack points out, the people who really need the cash flow this brings will be left stranded. That would be a real shame.