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Past your prime for en primeur

Not sure about Drinks Chat, but it seems as good as any.

The trend towards EP offers seems to be rolling ahead rapidly and yet I have seen numerous comments in this forum to the effect that “I don’t buy EP any more as I’m getting on a bit”. I’m also amongst those who wonder about the wisdom of buying EP, especially for slow maturing wines.

Is the growing EP campaign compatible with the age profile of the membership, or is it perhaps part of the wish to attract and tie in more younger members? If so is it realistic? How many potential younger members can afford to tie up capital for long periods. It seems more likely that we “senior” members may be more able to do this financially speaking, but less interested for life expectancy reasons. Just throwing out the thought and wondering if any one else has any ideas about it?


This has come up before, there is no doubt that older wine buyers will not be buying much EP, I stopped buying EP some years back, it simply makes no sense to a certain age demographic.
The old advantages of EP ie buy two cases of a wine, sell one later and drink the second for free disappeared decades back, the Chateau caught onto that wheeze after the '82 vintage and hiked their prices to make it almost impossible.

You also have the fact that Europe has had more vintages of the century in recent times than the rest of century combined, with wine making techniques improved beyond recognition and climate change, all areas of Europe have benefited, some more than others like Germany.

And whilst certain wines attract EP buying simply on the basis that someone likes them and wishes to ensure they have that year in their cellar, that is countered by the fact there is hardly any previous vintage of Bordeaux especially you cannot buy, and that also reduces costs as you are not paying storage or insurance.
The days when three vintages in ten were any good and all piled in to buy are over, there simply isn’t the need anymore.

As with all things it is up to the individual what they buy and how, but EP is a very British thing other nations do not really have much to do with it.

Plus today a large part of the wine buying world see nothing positive in laying down wines for decades and the industry as I know from insiders are making wines that are ready even in Bordeaux, much earlier than before alongside being much more tolerant of extremes in temperature etc and that will become in time much more prevalent.

An additional downside to long maturing wines is ‘when are they actually ready’ to drink, nobody really knows and you read reports of wine drinkers opening expensive wines after ten, twelve , fifteen years and declaring they need more cellar time, and what has happened, you have just wasted three bottles of Chateau X at £100 a pop finding out it isn’t ready making the rest of the case even more expensive.
Of course you may be of that ilk that the expense means little to you and just enjoy the experience of opening wines to see how they are 'improving ’ or not but it don’t come cheap.
For younger imbibers there is some merit in EP but it is lessening by the year with so much available.


Yes, I think what you say is true but it seems TWS is increasing its EP offers quite substantially, and I’m a bit puzzled by this. It’s also trying to get more younger members. I was looking, unsuccessfully, for some sort of synergy.

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TWS is on e of the few companies that has a large budget (many £ millions) of Keeping Stock- wines that we lay down and sell when ready for drinking. Most companies cannot afford this. A lot of their stock is broked ie. they list older wines belonging to their customers, usually kept in the customers’ cellars. Our latest Fine Wine List for example had a number of red Burgundies from the 2005, 2010, 2011 vintages. These have been bought from the domaines mostly en primeur and kept in our cellars until ready for drinking. so offering perfect provenance.


Increasing the EP offerings is surely fine if there is no corresponding reduction in the wines otherwise offered for sale.

Has the range on offer reduced? I’d be interested to know, if anyone has the answer. I can’t say I’ve noticed if it has. The only problem here is that there are far more wines I should like to buy than I can realistically drink.


I wonder whether some of the increase might be a result of vineyard preference? The original logic for EP from Bordeaux was, if I remember, that the vineyards needed cash to pay for the future and EP offered an earlier payment than waiting until the wine was ready to release.

Given the challenges in Australia (fires, and now China’s foreign policy) and recently SA (restrictions) it will be interesting to see if producers jump into EP to bolster finances in the short term.


Most en primeur offers are cash flow positive for us. We take a lower margin, members buy early and help finance the stock. Thats a win-win for both sides. The extra cash that generates offers us a number of possibilities of how to use it. One of them is to buy more keeping stock.


I’m certainly a fan of the EP offers, as my guilty order history confirms…

But then I also buy a fair amount otherwise. :grimacing:


I find age an interesting thing with EP and I guess it depends on what you mean by “young people”. I made my first EP Purchase when I was 37, which is arguably already too late.

If I’d started at say 25 I’d have a great pipeline of wines coming online now. At 25 I had neither the means nor the inclination to do so. I’m still not the biggest fan of buying whole cases, but then I found the requirement to buy 12 as a mix in majestic beyond what I wanted to buy either financially or space wise. As housing prices soar, people have less space and less disposable income, especially at that age, buying whole cases for long term storage becomes even less viable.

As @Toby.Morrhall says, TWS have a pipeline of wines that they’re able to sell by the bottle ready to drink. I find this much more appealing than EP now, and definitely would have even more so when I was first getting into wine (above and beyond what I picked up in the supermarket/on offer in Threshers), and should pay far more attention to it than I do.


Must say that I was glad to invest in a small amount of 99 Barolo and Barbaresco as well as 2000, 2001 and 2005 Bordeaux, when prices were fairer and I managed to get hold of a number of bottles and half cases of some good wines many of them with damaged labels like Grand Puy Lacoste and Malescot St Exupery which now I consider too expensive for me.

I’ll have some funds later in the year and we are planning a house move after my partner had had an important operation, so I’ll hold off from buying any more than single bottles for drinking this year until we find somewhere where we can build a small “cellar”. More likely to buy pre aged “fine” wines rather than buy for 15 or 25 years in the future, even at just short of 50, who knows if I will be alive and healthy enough at 75 to enjoy 2018 vintage port!? (Last email from a local merchant!)

En primeur is great for those lucky enough to be wealthy enough, young enough and sufficiently interested at a fairly young age, or have lucky sons and daughters who may appreciate the inheritance.


It depends what you’re buying EP surely? Top end Bordeaux can still need a couple of decades to reach its best but even the longer lived Rhones, Riojas and New World EP wines are usually drinking well after a decade or so, and in many cases half that time?


Why would 37 be too late? Even the longest window on my EPs ends when I’ll be in my late 60s and it doesn’t seem unreasonable (health permitting) to hope I’ll still be enjoying wine then. I made my first EP purchase aged 40.


It’s more that I am now at a point where I’d already like to be drinking the wine I’d have bought EP 15-20 years ago now, but I don’t have any. My 50s and 60s are going to have some great drinking times!


Ah, true enough! That’s one reason behind my ‘both’ policy, the other being to make sure there’s so much ready now that I can let the good stuff sleep.


You keep telling yourself that :wink:


I bought my first EP at 29 and still feel like that was too late!


Maybe I should get my 1-next-week year old niece a case or two of Hermitage??


I have frequently bought my godchildren and nephews wine for their christenings/birthdays.


I’m planning on a couple of cases of 2020 things (a Barolo and something long lived from Toscana and then probably a classed Bordeaux and a Sauternes) to start with. I’ve also got her a bottle of Archers from her birth year, mostly as a troll joke to her mum.


I’ll be doing 2020 things for our boy, for obvious reasons. :blush: