Fri 28 May 2010

Buying Bordeaux 2009 En Primeur


This year, for the first time, I’m seeing The Society’s en primeur – or opening offer – process from start to finish from the inside. After several years travelling to Bordeaux with Sebastian Payne MW to taste the wines, this time I’m learning the ropes back home too, party to all the relevant correspondence, and experiencing the highs and lows of this anticipated long campaign (likely to run well into July). Reactions run from the frustration induced by a few exceptionally high prices (some so greedy that we are not buying) to the satisfaction of the many more sensible prices available, usually for the more modest wines that offer such great value for money even in a vintage as talked about as this one.

Château Beaumont

Château Beaumont

Our system is a bit more complicated than some, not least because we choose to gather as many prices as we can before releasing any ourselves, so that we can offer our members as wide a choice as possible. It’s complicated too because if demand is high and we are unable to secure further stock (we’re buying big this year, believe me, but in some cases there just isn’t enough wine to go round) we ration and allocate what wine we do have amongst members rather than offering them on a first-come, first-served basis. Where it’s simple is that we only offer wines we’ve tasted (often several times) and wines we are happy to recommend. So some big names will not feature, either on pricing or quality grounds, and you’ll find numerous lesser-known wines which many of us can afford to buy and will find great pleasure in. As I am regularly reminded, The Wine Society is for wine drinkers not wine investors, hence we offer wines in half and mixed cases as well as full dozens.

So much for the process. What if you are new to buying from opening offers, or have not yet taken the plunge? I am happy to admit that I only started buying en primeur when I became a member of The Wine Society, and I wish I’d started sooner. The earliest barriers were cost, and feeling rather intimidated by the process – as well as the small matter of not having my own cellar! Narrowing down the choice of wines on offer to the little I could afford to buy has been another, but it would be a crime for such indecision to make you miss out on a Bordeaux vintage like 2009. So, set your own parameters – price will be the most important, but quantity and variety are important considerations too: one case of something more expensive or two half cases of something a bit lower down the scale? One wine, or one of our mixed cases? Think about sharing your purchase with a like-minded friend or family member if funds are limited, but if they are not, don’t hesitate. You won’t regret it.

Categories : Bordeaux, France


  1. Rick Pattison says:

    I’ve just received the email today with regards to the 2009 release of Bordeaux. Just a few observations.

    1) Is it me or do the prices seem to be trying to climb back to the silly pre 2008 levels.
    2) There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of choice this year from the Wine Society.
    3) I get the feeling that the Bordelais are trying to milk this year as another 2005 season, along with many of the sellers.

    I’ve read several reviews saying that for some producers 2009 is indeed a great vintage, however there are more producers who have not produced a stella vintage and for them it is not a 2005. But the price increase across the board; even taking into account the increase in the value of the Euro; just doesn’t tally with what I’ve been reading. At the moment I’m not convinced the 2009 is the same quality or value as the 2008, so I’ll pass on this year I think.

    • Yes the prices are higher this year as it is a very exciting vintage for a great number of wines and the Bordelais will naturally be charging more for it together with an exchange rate which is a lot less favourable than in 2006.

      This is only the first of two offers as prices are being released later this year than is normal. Overall we will be offering more wines than we have ever offered before.

      There are some producers who have not made very good wine in 2009. We won’t be buying those.

      We think the wines we’ve chosen especially in the first offer where we have very healthy stocks, offer the best value and many of the châteaux have made their best wine ever.

      For more information see the individual notes for each wine online, along with our comments about the vintage.

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