Buying En Primeur: does it pay?

En Primeur returns

Once a boon for the fine wine market, in recent years En Primeur has left buyers cold. The record release prices of the 2009 and 2010 vintages tested the resolve of the En Primeur market. Failure to re-adjust prices in the following two years effectively killed demand.  

And it would seem from the chart above that buying En Primeur no longer benefits the investor.  We have taken 30 leading Bordeaux chateaux and calculated the current returns for those who bought at the London release price. It is immediately striking how these returns collapse from 2005 (when release prices were three times that of 2004). Buying in the last four years would have lost you money.

The 2013 vintage is reported to be of small quantity and poor quality. If the chateaux are seeking to coax buyers back into the fold, the chart clearly shows in which direction they need to head. From the 2006 vintage onwards the inverse correlation between release prices and returns is stark. 2008, the cheapest of all (with the banking crisis at its grimmest), has produced returns of 61%; 2010, the most expensive ever, has produced losses of 17%. The scale of the challenge facing the chateaux next April is clear for all to see.  

4 thoughts on “Buying En Primeur: does it pay?

  • December 6, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Agreed such a bald headline needs deeper analysis. What is the compounded annual appreciation in each case? And if I’m not mistaken many 1996s took almost a decade to rise above their opening prices.

  • December 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    The only two recent vintages where there was any financial incentive to buying en-primeur were 2004 & 2008 Bordeaux. For the other vintages, you might as well have left your money in a savings account and bought when the wines became physical. In 2009 & 2010 waiting would have saved you quite a lot of money…;o)

  • January 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    For me the only motivation I have to buy any wine en-primeur after 2005 was to guarantee that I could obtain the wine I wanted from several of the smallest high quality chateaux. The owner’s have analyzed the situation and maneuvered into a “leave no money on the table” position: taking all of the potential long-term profits of their long-term loyal en-primeur buyers for themselves, up-front (!)= no risk (!), by steeply raising the en-primeur prices and maintaining them at a no-appreciation-possible level. Certainly the asian market has been an enabler of this monumental money grab. The 2008 vintage was an outlier because of the combined effects of the troubled world financial markets, initially low quality ratings, etc. I am very interested to see how the 2013 vintage plays out over the next 5 years.
    Best Regards, Robert Winemaker at Sathebo Winery


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