How does En Primeur work?
Wines are bought exclusive of Duty and VAT by the case only and the client will then have to wait two or three years before they are shipped over to the destination country. The wines will then be kept in a bonded warehouse until the customer wants to release them. At this point only, Duty and VAT will need to be paid - just on the wines coming out of the warehouse. If wines are being bought for investment, they often change hands several times without ever leaving the warehouse!
Is it always worth buying wine En Primeur?
Wine experts tend to believe that the best wines to buy En Primeur are those with very limited quantities that will no longer be available once the release date comes around. While the opening En Primeur prices are supposed to be considerably cheaper than the release prices, there have been some famous vintages where this was the other way round! The market has been pretty volatile over the last decade, but in very recent years, is starting to return to normal. Always buy through a reputable merchant, such as Corney & Barrow.
Buying wine En Primeur has always had an element of risk associated with it but on balance, is a sensible option for serious wine investors. Anyone wanting to start looking at the market for fine wine especially in the UK should check out Live-Ex (the London International Vintners Exchange), which is an trading, information and settlement platform for both merchants and investors. For those who perhaps don’t have the spare cash for cases and cases of fine wine however, Marks and Spencer in the UK have started buying a few cases of top Bordeaux names En Primeur and selling them by the bottle three years later when they are just about ready to drink. It’s an ideal starting point for those wanting to understand the process in a more accessible way.