Frequently Asked Questions
En Primeur is a French term meaning “in advance” or in English “Futures”. It is used to describe wine that is purchased in advance of the release of a wine, while it is still aging in barrel. Most, but not all, of the wines sold “en primeur” are Bordeaux wines offered through Bordeaux market.
Traditionally wine purchased at the opening “en primeur” rate were cheaper than the wines released a year or so later, after bottling. Although this is not always the case and depends largely on the quality of the vintage, prices for successful vintages have been seen to rise several years after a wine is released.
The other advantage of “en primeur” is that certain wines, notably the most popular chateaux of the Right Bank (St. Emilion and Pomerol) and the First Growths, are in very high demand and their production can never match demand. Buying “en primeur” is the only way that you will be able to secure allocations of certain of your favourite wines.
There are years that hold a special significance such as wedding years, birth years of a child or godchild or special anniversaries. Celebrating these occasions with a purchase of “en primeur” has always been a lasting way to remember these events.
Today when there is a risk of fake bottles at the top end of the wine market, buying a wine directly from the chateau at the start of its life, is the best way to ensure the wine’s provenance.
Finally, when you purchase wines “en primeur” you can choose the format that you wish your wine to be bottled in. Be it half bottles or imperials, magnums or double magnums, depending upon the quantity of wine you have been allocated, you can choose how you want to drink your favourite chateau.
Each year the international wine trade and press descends on Bordeaux at the beginning of April to taste the new vintage, six months after the grapes were picked. Fiona Morrison M.W., our managing director, has tasted Bordeaux en primeur for over 25 years with a select group of Masters of Wine and journalists including Jancis Robinson M.W. and Steven Spurrier. She tastes over 200 wines during “en primeur” week and we publish Fiona’s tasting notes as soon as the “en primeur” prices have been released. Of course, you need not rely just on Fiona’s notes, there are hundreds of merchants and journalists who publish their tasting notes on the Internet and who can also be of guidance to you.
Even before we publish our list of “en primeur” wines available, you can send us your wish list so that we will inform you when we know the price and the allocation that we have for a certain wine. Once our list is published, you can order the wines via the website. We will let you know as soon as possible if we can satisfy your wishes, since certain wines are available in very limited quantities indeed. If a wine is still available, we will send you a confirmation shortly after receiving your request. A little later (usually after July 1st of the year of the “en primeur” offering) you will receive the invoice for the wines. Depending upon the vintage, the invoice will be payable immediately or, as is often the case at Thienpont Wines, by the 31st of October of the same year. If there are still “en primeur” wines available around the 1st of November when our new wine guide is published, these wines can be purchased with a payment date that is usually fixed around the end of March of the following year. What is important to note is that once you have ordered and paid for your “en primeur” wines, those wines are kept safe for you until we are ready to deliver them to your door; you have guaranteed ownership of your purchased “en primeur” wines.
It is usually two to two and one half years after the vintage that the wine is released having completed its aging in oak barrel and in bottle. Wines purchased “en primeur” in the 2015 vintage for example will be bottled in the summer of 2017 and shipped in the autumn and winter that follows. Certain wines may even take a little bit longer to be released.