Tesco may offer its customers Bordeaux en primeur next year – a move that will cause seismic changes in the 400-year-old industry.

Dan Jago, beers wines and spirits director at the UK supermarket and the most powerful man in UK wine retail has revealed the plans exclusively to decanter.com.

He told decanter.com ‘We are considering all channels of wine retailing, and en primeur is one of them. We have a successful online wine business though the Tesco Wine Club, which has a mailing list of 570,000 opt-in customers, the largest wine club in the world.’

Tesco will market en primeur wines through the Wine Club. ‘There is no doubt that some of those customers may well be interested in buying en primeur,’ Jago said.

This move would make Tescos the first supermarket to offer wine in this way, where customers traditionally pay for the wines two years before their release in bottle.

It will have a massive impact on the UK trade, affecting one of the few areas were, until now, traditional merchants have been the public’s only access route.

Jago said one of the challenges would be explaining ‘the inherent value’ of en primeur to customers. To this end they would simplify the offer.

‘[The value] for me seems to be securing the availability of wines as early as possible, and at a reasonable price. It’s been made very hard for a customer to understand why chateaux release at such different prices each year, and we would need to look at how to simplify the overall offer.’

There are no plans to offer the 2006 campaign on primeur, he added, but they would start from the 2007 campaign if it were suitable.

The development would be the latest in a series of moves towards increasing the wine range at Tesco. Over the past few years, the company has introduced a fine wine range in 250 of its stores, and held fine wine fairs in London and Manchester. It is estimated that Tesco accounts for 30% of the food and drink market in the UK.

Another UK supermarket, Waitrose, already offers en primeur, in association with wine merchants Lay & Wheeler.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux