Prime vintage for buying in advance
Vinexpo, the giant biennial wine fair held in Bordeaux is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week. With some 2,400 exhibitors from 47 countries, organisers are expecting 50,000 visitors. I won't be there -- so have a few scoops for me, guys.
At the opening, Alain Juppe, the Mayor of Bordeaux defended his region against charges of unjustifiably hiking 2010 vintage prices higher than the already-expensive 2009 vintage. "The market decides the prices. The wines are actually great value and I hope that the very good results of last year will be confirmed this year," he said. Oh dear. Another 'vintage of the century' and we're only 11 years into it? Maybe not quite but American guru Robert Parker reckons 2010 has produced "another year of compelling Bordeaux that will go down as a prodigious vintage alongside 2009."
Which begs the thorny question of whether or not to buy 'en primeur'. In plain terms 'en primeur' means you purchase wine now for drinking in the future. Currently, the 2010 vintage is stored in barrels in France. You pay for the wine when you place your order. When it eventually arrives in Ireland, in this case spring 2013, you then have to pay the excise duty, VAT, freight and insurance. The reason for buying en primeur is, in theory at least, you get the benefit of prices dramatically lower than the retail price when the wine reaches a Dublin wine merchant's shelves.
Here I'll repeat myself. You pay in advance for a wine you will only receive two years later. You really have to be sure about the financial good health of the wine dealer whom you are in contact with. If the dealer goes bankrupt, it might become very difficult to recover your wines or your money. It's better to deal with long established merchants of good reputation.
The financial success of an en primeur venture also depends on factors such as the current economic climate and the quality of the vintage on offer. Finally, if you decided to buy en primeur don't go thinking you are going to make 'a killing'. Getting your wine at, say, half retail price is unlikely; expect modest gains.
At this point I should maybe admit I've only bought wine en primeur once and it was Rhone, not Bordeaux.
I asked Peter Dunne of Mitchell & Son (CHQ, Dublin and Glasthule -- contact Amy Farrell 01 612 5540) who have substantial experience in en primeur to give me a recommendation for first-timers.
"Chateau Beaumont," he said (pictured, above), without hesitation. "We have a long-established track record with this wine. It's soft, easy-drinking and at €110 for a case of 12 bottles, always delivers good value for money".
Easy to pronounce, too!