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The timing of Bordeaux en primeur – ask Decanter

Why does Bordeaux en primeur take place in the spring...?

En primeur timing – ask Decanter

Andrew Watson, Glasgow, asks: Why do the Bordeaux en primeur tastings take place in the spring after the vintage – surely it would be better if they were later that year, or even the following year?

Stephen Brook, a Decanter consultant editor, replies: Bordeaux’s top châteaux have never sold their wines directly to importers or individuals.

Instead they use intermediaries like brokers and merchants.

It’s in the châteaux’ interest to put a new vintage on the market as early as possible, but they accept that they cannot expect merchants to place orders if they do not have an opportunity to taste the wines.

So the en primeur tasting pilgrimage developed in the spring (after the malolactic fermentation) so that merchants and other important buyers could assess the wines from the barrel.

The participation of journalists, retailers and sommeliers in the tastings is a much more recent phenomenon.

And, yes: it would be far better to taste and assess the wines much later in the year or just before bottling.

But then the châteaux would have to wait longer for their orders – and for the accompanying cash.

  • Keep checking Decanter.com for the latest from en primeur week in Bordeaux.

  • Got a question for Decanter’s experts? Email us: editor@decanter.com or using #askDecanter

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