Taste Of Bordeaux


Every time spring arrives, Bordeaux becomes the centre of attention for the entire wine industry, L-J Andrew sits down with CEO of Cru Wine, Gregory Swartberg to discuss the beginning of a new En Primeur campaign

Buying wine “En Primeur”, or “wine futures”, refers to the process of buying wine whilst it is still in the barrel, so before it is bottled and released to the market. Think of it like booking concert tickets before they are released to the general public, only this time, buying wine straight from the producer while the wine itself is still maturing in châteaux’s cellars, therefore giving guaranteed access to limited vintages and usually, a timely investment.

T his system dates back to the 18th century when Bordeaux wine merchants, known as négociants, used to visit the local châteaux before harvest to buy grapes off the vine. The modern En Primeur trade was established after the second world war when many châteaux were poorly financed and badly run. Négociants agreed to purchase wines from the top producers in advance, which aided cash flow and provided a much needed relief to struggling châteaux. Today, En Primeur sales are limited to the most esteemed châteaux – many of which boast Grand Cru Classé or similar status. This accounts for around 200 labels in Bordeaux.

Gregory explains: “If you’re looking to build a collection of fine wine, En Primeur is a good place to start. The release price is typically the lowest price that the wine will ever be and should deliver a price benefit in future markets. Purchasing En Primeur also guarantees the perfect provenance of the wine as it has been kept in one place. It can also be your only opportunity to secure highly sought-after investment wines which are either premium brands or wines made in exceptionally small quantities, as these rarely make their way to the secondary market.”

He continues: “You can choose wine for future consumption, for investment or enjoy the best of both. At Cru Wine, we have a knowledgeable team who will be able to recommend what to buy for your budget and preferences.”

Traditionally, Bordeaux’s ‘En Primeur week’ takes place over one or two weeks in early spring, and sees thousands of merchants, journalists, retailers, reputable wine critics and other industry pros descend on the wine region to taste the young wines that have been harvested the previous autumn.

Gregory describes: “After two years of tasting via Zoom, the team at Cru Wine welcomed the return to Bordeaux at the end of April to get a flavour for the 2021 vintage. Our private client team and buyers spent up to four days tasting barrel samples with négociants and visiting the various châteaux. Some might consider this marathon tasting an overindulgence, however, despite the purple stained teeth from all the tannin, it is essential to taste these wines first-hand in order to knowledgably inform and advise our clients. This is particularly crucial with a heterogenous vintage like 2021.”

Considering everything that nature threw at them; frost, mildew and lack of sunshine to name but a few, winemakers who put in the work in the vineyard throughout the growing season and held their nerve, have made classically styled, elegant wines with moderate alcohols, something rarely seen in the last decade or two. It would be a disservice to write off2021 on pure comparison to the previous three glorious years. Gregory explains: “Though completely different in profile, we think 2021 has produced some excellent wines that we can fully recommend in confidence.”

The excellent wines are classic Bordeaux, beautifully fresh, full of fruit, complexity and most certainly will keep in your cellar. You might even be able to drink one or two in a few years’ time rather than waiting 20+ years - definitely a bonus.

The greats are most certainly still great, just in a different way. They wouldn’t be Bordeaux otherwise. Chin chin.

To find out more and start your wine collection today visit: www.cru-wine.com/bdx-21

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