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.

Conclusion

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.

http://www.dbmwines.co.uk will be publishing commentary and tasting notes soon

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2005 Feytit Clinet – glad I bought en primeur…

28 03 2016

With the 2015 En Primeur campaign kicking off and looking at prices of 2005s and 2009s, some of which haven’t increased, I was interested to try these wines and see whether I still think it’s worth buying En Primeur.

In 2006 I purchased 6 magnums of Feytit Clinet and 12 magnums of Ch Jonqueyres, a Bordeaux Superieur. We enjoyed three of them today for lunch (yes it was a big lunch with friends, not just the two of us!). Both the wines were excellent – the Feytit Clinet clearly more concentrated and powerful with a future still ahead and the lesser wine ripe and juicy, perfect to drink now.

Out of interest I looked up my paperwork and the Feytit Clinet was £267 in bond (6x150cl) and the Jonqueyres £108 (12x150cl). Today the Feytit Clinet is worth about £400+ and I can’t find a price for the Jonqueyres but you’d probably have to pay double now.

However for me the pleasure was all in having bought these wines as babies and having nurtured them carefully and then got so much shared pleasure from them. How much I paid for them and whether they had increased in value wasn’t really the point. They could have gone down and it wouldn’t have mattered, the initial outlay was long forgotten.

Isn’t this the real reason to buy En Primeur – for the future enjoyment not the investment potential. The other lesson I’ve learnt is to buy some magnums of a really good 2015 Bordeaux Superieur this year. Our children will definitely thank us in ten years’ time…