Thursday, 25 March 2010

En Primeur Bordeaux

What is 'en primeur? How does it work? Why?

The 'en primeur' or 'futures' are a method of buying wines, when they are not yet in bottle.

The wines are judged and assessed by tasting from barrels in the Spring following the vintage. The trade buyers and journalists taste, assess and critique the wines and then they either promote the wines to their customers or they write glowing reports.

The Primeurs started in the early 1980's. It serves two purposes.
1. For the Chateau owner it is a great opportunity to improve cash flow. Money will be received within the year after the harvest, as they still have to pay for barrels, storage and bottling over the next 18 months.
2.For the purchaser it is a great way to make sure that we get hold of the best wines direct from the Chateaux in the best condition. Many of the top wines are only made in very small quantities, therefore the Primeur offering may be the best way to secure stock. Eg Chateau Ausone in Saint Emilion produces about 2000 cases every year and Le Pin in Pomerol produce about 500 cases.
Many of the top wines of Bordeaux do not enter the secondary trading market due to small quanties produced, therefore if stock does appear it is usually at a Chateau Petrus or Le Pin.
The majestic Chateau Haut Brion...I'll be tasting there next week.

The 2009 Bordeaux vintage will be tasted next week at the Union de Grands Crus tastings throughout the Bordeaux region. I will be there tasting at various Chateaux and seeing whether the undoubted hype for this vintage is real. Comparisons have already been made to the legendary 1947 vintage, but I treat this with caution as I am not sure how many of us have tasted extensively from 1947!! From everything I hear it is looking very good. The down side will be the quantities there will be severe allocations of the top wines. And also inevitably the prices. It will be difficult for the UK and US market with the unfavorable exchange rate. But it will be an opportunity for French buyers and also the Far East.
If you are interested in buying en primeurs or hearing more about wines available please email me directly:

Sunday, 21 March 2010

UK Wine Tax Problems

Interesting article in the Telegraph here.
The current UK taxes are extremely punitive. The government will undoubtedly raise taxes further this coming Wednesday during the Budget. There is talk of a 5% rise or even more. So that would be c 30% tax increase in the last year.
It is difficult enough selling Australian wine (30% swing on the currency in the last 18 months) and also European wine (the Euro is strong against the Pound).
The recession also does not help...slow payments and bad debts and companies closing.
I am always positive and we are still trading away. We have to diversify here.
The next 12 months will see more rationalization and change in the wine trade. Survival of the fittest!
Whilst at the same time we are selling more and more fine wine from Bordeaux. There is genuine interest from the UK trade and collectors (and investors) for the 2009 Bordeaux wines, which I will be tasting thoroughly in the next fortnight.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Chateau La Gaffeliere 2004

I recently tasted the 2004 (not the 2006 pictured above)Chateau La Gaffeliere in Saint Emilion and then back in the UK at a trade tasting. Some wines really stay in your head! This one was an absolutely fantastic wine. The nose was intense, dark, brooding and seemed to have layers of spice and cedar. The merlot style was ripe and concentrated with silky smooth deep harmonious velvet textured oak. The wine just went on and on and on and on and on was so well balanced and just coming into the drinking stage. However with the concentration of fruit and the depth of oak ageing this wine will benefit from another 10 years storing.
I am tempted to buy some myself just to keep for another while. I can get hold of some stock from the Chateau and the price would be +/- £50 per bottle.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Warren Buffet buys wine distributor

We have been snowed in down herein the Minervois for 3 days. Thank God we have still had electricity and water. The vines are in their dormant phase at the moment, so the snow is no problem.

It is certainly interesting times in the wine world. Some distributors in the UK and USA are finding business tough and exchange rates crippling. It does not help in the UK with an insecure and unsure government, who seem to be indecisive. Maybe the general election in May will at least clear the air.
What is definitely sure is that wine taxes will rise in the forthcoming budget on March 24th. So it really is an opportunity to stock up on wine if you have parties, functions planned for the coming weeks/months.
The World of wine is also changing with new areas developing and some areas being effected by natural disaster...Chile's recent earthquake and the ongoing water shortage in Australia.
Sometimes investment and wine consumption turns to recognized 'brands' and known names when times are tough. That is why our Bordeaux sales have been so strong in the last year. We have introduced many people to the delights of Chateau de la Riviere in Fronsac as well as Chateau La Gaffeliere in Saint Emilion and a host of other excellent Chateaux. It is bizarre that these wines are more expensive than the average UK bottle price, but maybe people turn to safe areas rather than trying to explore in a recession.
That is why this article is interesting. Warren Buffet is a very shrewd investor. He normally looks at long term investments. So he has analysed wine and seen an opportunity. Lets hope we have more optimistic news in the wine world over the next few months. 2010 is proving challenging, but there are areas to grow and develop.