Bordeaux 2015 En Primeur – the key questions

11 04 2016
  • Quality – how does it compare to recent years?
  • Prices – the Brexit factor
  • Value – buying for drinking or investment?

Quality – how does it compare to recent years?

It’s a very good vintage, undoubtedly the best since 2010 although not quite at the same level as 2005, 2009 or 2010. Full of fresh blueberry-styled fruit with balanced acidity, good density and ripe tannins, the wines are very attractive indeed. Comparisons have been made with 1985 and 1996. Of course the wines are not yet in bottle so it’s too early to make definitive judgements, but these are the sort of wines that Bordeaux lovers will want in their cellars.

Prices – the Brexit factor

There are two considerations here for the UK: 1) the chateau release price and 2) the euro exchange rate. The most important of these is the chateaux’ release price and just how reasonable they will be. Prices of 2009 and 2010 were high, while 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 have been considerably lower. 2015s will be somewhere in-between but just where remains to be seen. A point the chateaux should consider is that there’s been a bit of a backlash against Bordeaux over recent years – I’ve noticed it in several ways. Probably most significant is that younger people and much of the restaurant trade no longer look to Bordeaux as they once did – Argentine Malbec, top Italian and Spanish wines are all the rage. If Bordeaux wishes to remain relevant to these sectors, it needs to remain accessible. The second factor is the exchange rate and what will happen if we vote to remain or leave the EU on 23rd June. We’ve already seen a devaluation in the pound and if we leave the EU the rate could fall further. If we stay it might bounce back. This makes it very tricky for UK merchants to price the wines to sell as a 10% swing either way will wipe out their profits. If chateaux owners are reasonable and exchange rates go the right way (two big if’s!) the 2015s could look relatively good value for the quality.

Value – buying for drinking or investment

It was tempting with the 2009s and 2010s to buy the top wines en primeur for investment (I did it myself) but so far we have not seen the returns, mainly because of wider economic factors and the fact that people aren’t drinking these wines yet so the scarcity effect hasn’t really kicked in. With low interest rates, wine could still be considered a good alternative investment but my advice is not to rely on wine solely to deliver returns. If you end up owning wine that has appreciated in value all the better, but do be prepared to drink and enjoy it one day.


Know why you are buying (for drinking or investment). If for investment, go for the best you can afford, preferably first or second growths or the equivalents. If for drinking then ask a merchant whose advice you trust on which lesser wines offer the best quality/price ratio. Order magnums or larger sizes if you can too as these are harder to get hold of later on and are much more impressive for lunch or dinner parties. will be publishing commentary and tasting notes soon

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