En Primeur is the practice of buying wine when it is still in the barrel. This is appealing to fine wine buyers and enthusiasts because it is a way of guaranteeing access to a portion of wine that will be in high demand when it is released, which will also more than likely rise in price as it matures – so there is the financial benefit too, as well as bragging rights.
I write this post armed with some bragging rights myself, as I was able to taste some En Primeur Burgundies earlier this month at the Flint Wines 2018 Burgundy En Primeur Tasting held at One Whitehall Place. While En Primeur is something that originated in Bordeaux, it has something that has become increasing relevant in Burgundy, the Rhône and the States, due to rising demand for these wines.
2018 was a very special year for wine across Europe – do you remember that glorious summer? We couldn’t believe our luck here in the UK, as the blessed sunshine gave us what we called a ‘bumper harvest’ of ripe, juicy grapes. Burgundy was no different: the sun shone from June to September and it was the warmest year on record there.
However, sunshine and warmth aren’t guarantees for good wine – there are many more subtleties that have been key to the varying characteristics of these wines across the region (indeed some parts are more suited to heat than others), such as the time of picking. It’s true that some producers left the picking a fraction too late, resulting in some extremely alcoholic 16% monsters!
Yet, overall, even though there was lots and lots of juicy, beautiful Chardonnay (which didn’t lose its concentration just because there was loads of it), which has produced some gorgeous wines possessing a freshness and a saltiness that frames the fruit deliciously, the consensus is that 2018 was a red vintage. The year sits comfortably alongside the other stunners of the decade. Don’t let the incredibly concentrated fruit deceive – it might be showy and operatic in its high notes, but the best wines are held up by a robust cast iron framework – these are the wines that are built to last.