By common consent the 2013 Bordeaux vintage has been far from their best, yet they still made reasonable wine thanks to modern winemaking technology. However the Bordelais have shot themselves in the foot because of their mishandling of their en primeur campaign. En Primeur is a French wine trade term for wine sold as a future before being bottled. It has only existed since the 1960’s and used to be a successful system with the chateaux getting paid for their new vintage before it was bottled and consumers getting wine at the cheapest possible price.
That was the theory but in recent years the chateaux have mostly failed to price their wine competitively with the result that consumers have, with the help of wine brokers like Vin-X, bought earlier vintages at cheaper prices.Since 2005 we have seen 3 of the greatest Bordeaux vintages of all time and as a consequence fine wine investment prospered. The en primeur system ensured that prices soared but the Bordelais failed to adjust their prices significantly downwards when faced by 3 less stellar vintages and the market underwent a correction. The consequence is that investment grade Bordeaux wines are now available at their most competitive price for over 4 years. The world has changed, the wine market has broadened and Bordeaux is no longer as dominant as it once was. En primeur is the envy of the wine world but it seems that 2 high profile chateaux, both owned by global luxury brands, no longer want to play ball. Latour withdrew 2 years ago whilst Yquem has just announced that it will release its generally acknowledged “wine of the vintage” at a time of its choosing Furthermore its former owner has proclaimed that Bordeaux is heading for “collective suicide” Is this death by a thousand cuts for en primeur ?