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Why buy en primeur?

Hello Community :smiley:

Our latest 1874 magazine has now launched, and there is a feature inside from wine writer and Wine Society member David Kermode, focusing on the subject of buying en primeur.

As en primeur is such a prominent topic on this Community, we wanted to pose the question to you all as well:

Why buy en primeur?

For wine lovers that have never dipped their toes into the world of en primeur, should they, or shouldn’t they? For current en primeur buyers, should they continue?

It’s a very broad question and there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but we would be very pleased to hear your thoughts on this!

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I don’t buy a lot of EP but when I do it tends to be fairly modest Rhone reds which are often available a few years later on the main list, sometimes even at a lower cost than the duty-plus-storage costs of the original EP purchase.

It’s good to reserve some of what you know you’ll enjoy in the future, but for me it’s more of an emotional purchase than a rational one.

That said, I did buy a very small amount of 2019 burgundy which I think I’ll be grateful for emotionally AND financially in a few years’ time.

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Because I’m an idiot who can’t resist the hype of the buyers/forum.

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More seriously, it’s for a number of reasons. Bear in mind that I tend to buy at the lower end of EP, as my wine experience and budget is smaller than other people’s. I’m not happy to take a punt on an expensive wine unless I’m pretty sure I’ll like it.
-to save a few quid, though this isn’t always guaranteed
-to get an allocation of some wines which I’m unlikely to see on the main list, which applies even at the cheaper end, especially in the Rhone and Zorzal, it seems.
-as a way of getting different formats, especially half-bottles (very keen to see this offered more regularly, it seems to be dying out to some degree)
-because psychologically, it’s easier to buy large quantities knowing that I won’t need to work out where to put them in my home cellar for a number of years, rather than having the immediate problem of justifying and finding storage for duty-paid purchases

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Historically, EP represented good value on release with the benefit of Chateau getting some cash flow built into the price. I don’t think there’s much value to be had nowadays, especially in Bordeaux, with the odd exception of Gonon or Burlotto Monvigliero (if you can get it!), in fact outside the really collectible names, there’s every chance your wine will be worth the same or less over 5 years before you’ve accounted for storage costs. With so many 3 or 6 packs now on the market, getting a few bottles of a back vintage won’t require a big outlay either.

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I also have a fairly modest budget and I like the fact that en primeur spreads the cost a little.

£20 a bottle? Not sure if I’d stretch to six of them. But £85 for six in bond? Ooh, that sounds much more affordable! I’m in!

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Mainly to secure wines I know. Occasionally in the mixed cases to try a range for an area where I have limited familiarity.

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For me, I think it’s been covered pretty well above.

  1. FOMO
  2. Secure allocation of small production / high demand wines that potentially aren’t guaranteed to appear at a later date, at or close to release price
  3. Spreads costs - a chunk now and a bit later on
  4. Storage space at home + competitive / quality storage provided

I also like to concentrate a bit on particular areas/grapes/colours for certain vintages if I perceive they’ve performed stronger than others
e.g. Northern Rhone in 2018 or Right Bank Bordeaux in 2020
This doesn’t mean I’m about to go all giddy and start buying 2021 Bordeaux Blanc!

Edit: just thought of another - to try and keep verticals going like Ferraton Patou Cornas

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I used it to over-buy when I had enough disposable income to buy better stuff for the future (basically while I was still in employment) - Monte Bello 2011 and 2012 are good examples. Most of the points made above are valid and have (with the exception of the half bottle/magnum availability advantage) been applicable with some offers I have taken up. I do think that non-availabilty post EP would be the only driver for me these days. There are downsides and it’s easy to get into a cycle, driven by the ‘excitement’ of the lottery aspect, where you buy from lots of EP offers. I have a couple of glaring examples of this, far too much Chateauneuf from the 2000’s than I will ever drink and a long vertical of a single white burgundy producer whose wines I will never get through.

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There are quite a few reasons, but if I’m honest, FOMO & getting caught up in the anticipation/suspense of the process are probably the main reasons I originally piled in!

Having said that, I’ve been able to secure allocations of some great, relatively scarce wines from excellent vintages at decent prices, and I’ve learnt a lot about certain regions from the research involved. So while I’ve definitely scaled back my initial enthusiasm, I will continue to dip in.

If you are very set on obtaining specific highly sought after wines, in specific vintages, then it may not be the best option, but otherwise it can be quite a fun and educational (if potentially ruinously expensive) experience!

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Many of the so-called EP offers are really just ‘first release’ (several 2018 and 2019 offers coming up later this year) and for those it might well be the only chance to buy. Who knows?

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Now that I’m retired, for three good reasons, probably not !

  1. Due to quite a few buying sprees prior to retirement I have a good stock of wines for future drinking.
  2. I no longer have the disposable income to be as self indulgent.
  3. As well as the wine itself, and as time marches on, I’m taking an ever increasing gamble on my own future well-being and ability to enjoy them.

That said, I still occasionally dip my toes in the EP waters but much more modestly these days and only for wines that require short to midterm cellaring.

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You being on the other side of things, how’s that working out for you?

… because this is an important part of the excuses I make to myself! :grin:

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There are so many EP’s now it has become very ordinary exercise and some aren’t even strictly speaking early releases anyway.

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Initially when I first joined TWS and, more significantly, this forum I was getting swept up in the hype.

I think they generally still give some small price benefit against the same vintage when it eventually gets released, though, generally, no benefit when compared against existing vintages already available. However I really don’t think price is a good reason any longer.

My main motive is getting wines I know I love. So I never get a wine EP that I’ve not already tried; It seems silly to me to to buy a wine that I going to have to store for some time or pay to have stored when I don’t even know if I’m going to like it.

So securing loved wines that often never appear on the main list.

But I’m 65 now and most of the wines I’m buying EP really want 10 years or more so I’m getting less enthusiastic nowadays!

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Likewise, I’m 60 and have no interest in buying wine which needs a 15 years wait.

I buy E.P. for two reasons only: to secure GOOD wine for drinking after 2 to 6 years by which time it might be much more expensive or unavailable. And to get obscure ready aged wine which TWS sources from time to time.

OK a third reason: TWS does a Beaujolais E.P. each year, and I love high quality/ tiny parcel BJL. Boutique wine.

So wine along these lines: Billaud Chablis, Pataille Burgundy, that really strange Weinert Tonel Único 247.

All of which ARE NOT the traditional reasons for buying E.P. ?

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LR can you remind me when the Beaujolais Ep hits please

I’m feeling a tad foolish - on reflection Beaujolais wasn’t a separate E.P. . Was it bundled up in a general Burgundy E.P offer - or was it Rhone? Perhaps Beaujolais is a mass launch upon the general website once a year - April/ May In which case we have some time to wait.

@Kelly can you help out ?

Chateau des Jacques 2018 Beaujolais was EP released and I think I missed a later one too , so you’re not wrong :wink:.

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Theres normally an annual Beaujolais offer (not EP) with a large selection from one vintage and usually a mixed case, that may be the one you’re thinking of. However there have also been a couple Chateau de Jacques EP offers.

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