M&S buys wine en primeur for customers

Peter Shakeshaft

M&S, perhaps the UK’s favourite retailer, has announced that their wine buyers are introducing their first annual en primeur offer this May. Marks & Spencer’s resident Master of Wine, Emma Dawson, explains that they will be stocking their shelves with 2014 vintage wines acquired en primeur in 2015, early next month.

In this first campaign, launched in London on the 24th April, they have 32 wines from the 2014 vintage, which will be sold in 80 of their stores and online with buyers having the choice to buy in cases of six bottles or singly.

Pontet Canet BarrelsThe M&S Bordeaux 2014 range spans from a £26 bottle of Chateau Potensac to First Growth Lafite at £420 per bottle and includes other top brands such as Palmer, Pontet-Canet and Leoville Las Cases.

Dawson advised that 3,000 six-bottle cases had been acquired en primeur and that the team had even considered making the wines available for customers to acquire en primeur, but instead decided to wait until they became physical. The strategy of en primeur wine sales would not be an uncomplicated sell for a high street supermarket.

M&S confirmed that they acquired 2015 en primeur last year and will be buying from the 2016 vintage releases. The wines will change every year with their current strategy to keep their en primeur focus to about 30 wines with a price tag choice between £20 per bottle to First Growth, making them available for sale when they are in bottle.

The following wines are in their 2014 range:

Château Potensac Château Langoa Barton
Château Poujeaux Château Croix de Labrie
Chasse Spleen Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste
Château Angludet Château Cos d’Estournel
Connétable de Talbot Château Calon Ségur
Chevalier de Lascombes Château Lynch-Bages
Château Plince Château Pontet-Canet
Château Chauvin Château Lafleur-Pétrus
St Georges Côtes Pavie Château Bélair-Monange
Marquis de Calon Ségur Château Léoville Las Cases
Château Marquis de Terme Château Palmer
Château La Dominique Château Lafite
La Croix de Ducru Beaucaillou Château Gloria
Les Pagodes de Cos Château Gruaud-Larose

No doubt this strategy will broaden the audience some of these top wines are exposed to and increase demand for wines still held in bond. What cannot be increased is supply. Only a finite supply of wine is made every vintage. Bordeaux growers cannot increase their production by any other means than acquiring neighbouring vineyards and even then terroir will not be quite the same. The overall vine footprint is fixed, supply cannot be increased by artificial means or even irrigation under strict AOC controls. Increased consumer demand over time, as a result of the introduction to new buyers, can only be good for fine wine owners, with rising demand positively affecting price growth.

Chateau Cos d'EstournelMeanwhile, Cos d’Estournel (Scores: Suckling 97 – 98 and Jancis Robinson 18/20) is the first big Bordeaux brand to release its 2016 prices. Currency has an impact with Euro prices the same as last year’s release but in Sterling this represents a 10.1% increase. Smart selections will be essential for Sterling buyers of the 2016 vintage.

For more information on 2016 price releases and allocations please register: https://www.vin-x.com/enprimeur2016newsandallocations