Remember that it is a question of evaluating a wine that is still being aged in the cellars. In May, after the tastings and everyone having formed an opinion on the quality, the transactions could begin. Properties will then advertise a selling price and traders will buy, or not. Themselves will then sell the cases to wine merchants, restaurateurs and other private amateurs.
In parallel, the wine will remain 12 to 16 months in its barrels, then will be bottled in the spring of 2023 and shipped in the following months. The châteaux were paid for even before the wines left the estate.
A well-honed mechanism based on two principles. First of all, great wines are rare and it is therefore advisable to reserve them in advance to be sure to have some. Then, their en primeur price must be improved compared to the one that will be in force a few months and years later. From a financial point of view, buying en primeur is always a gamble.
En primeur tasting also requires know-how. Because the wine is “born” in October/November (during vinification) and will only be finished in the spring of year n + 2 (after maturing). Tasting it in April of year n+1, the “baby” is therefore only 6 to 7 months old. “The reds are then often tannic. They will only be softened with the slow aging in barrels”, explains Alizée Huet, technical director of the Trianon castle (14 ha, Saint-Émilion).
“It’s like imagining if a 7-year-old kid will end up with a bachelor’s degree or a polytechnician”
In the first few months, the wine “takes wood” quite violently and it will only acquire a patina and “coax” over time. The stronger the extractions – duration of contact between the skins and the juices during the vinification – the more “stiff” it will be and the delicate tasting. With variations according to the grape varieties. A Merlot, for example, will be more pleasant than a Cabernet Sauvignon.
“It is difficult to project oneself by tasting a wine en primeur”, sums up the professional. It’s like imagining if a 7-year-old kid will end up with a bachelor’s degree or a polytechnician. As a result, professionals taste the wines once they have been bottled to confirm – or not – their first impressions en primeur.
land of wines
The “Terre de Vins” magazine (“Sud Ouest” Group), in partnership with the La Grande Cave site, is organizing a primeur tasting for the general public. Thirty properties (Cantenac Brown, Dauzac, Fourcas Hosten, Suduiraut, etc.) will thus come to appreciate their 2021 vintage (plus another vintage to be delivered).
Friday, April 29 at the InterContinental in Bordeaux from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. An exceptional master class dedicated to Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) will be held from 6.15 to 7.15 p.m. Price: 25 euros. Tasting + master class: 150 euros.