Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur: Fine Wine Report

With COVID-19 on the rampage it was seemingly of little consequence that Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur tastings didn’t take place at the end of March. This postponement, as well as spurious messaging from UK wine merchants that investors should purchase fine wine now, led Wine Club Honest Grapes to debunk the mythos around fine wine investment and Bordeaux 2019 En Primeur and offer a no-nonsense approach to wine collecting. 

Firstly, we assembled a panel of experts including Gavin Quinney, Rupert Millar and Nick Martin for a Bordeaux Summit on 15th April hosted by our Wine Director Tom Harrow. In preparation, we polled more than 30 experts and well over 100 wine collectors from our Grand Crew Classé Club, the results of which are included in the report.

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Watch the Summit on YouTube

Key insights include that 57% of experts felt that Bordeaux is becoming a less important part of the fine wine scene, and as many as 68% think the En Primeur system needs wholesale change.  And in the summit itself Tom probed our panel with pressing questions such as “are the wines released too early and should they be released through the existing négociants system?”. 

Clearly Bordeaux’ grip on the fine wine investment is waning, although changes to the En Primeur system seem unlikely. As panellist Gavin Quinney observed after speaking to President of the Union des Grands Crus Ronan Laborde just before the summit, “it is in the DNA of the Bordeaux Grands Crus to have En Primeur”. Why buy En Primeur then? Especially as in some vintages like 2009, 2010 and 2016 prices are lower now than they were at release! 

2019 is going to be a great vintage and we suggest collecting for your future drinking pleasure and follow our Chairman Nathan Hill’s “sniff tests”: is the wine one I want in my collection? Will I regret missing it? Does it feel overpriced? Is there so much made that it will go down in price if I wait?  

For investors (like Nathan), unlike what other merchants are saying, the reality is that prolonged downturn will supress demand and you’re better off buying other asset classes which are 30% down from their December valuations. There are, however, ‘Special Situations’, or undervalued wines, where regular players are passing on allocations, or scarcity and sellers’ liquidity requirements drive bargains. 

Tom says “we’ve seen a lot of Special Situations over the last month and our Club Members have secured rare allocations they normally wouldn’t have been able to access”. With the fine wine market changing, we recommend your cellar holds no more than 30% Bordeaux and you access Special Situations from old world powerhouses like Burgundy, Italy, Champagne and Spain, as well as new world superstars such as PerSe and Harlan

We’ll be paying close attention to Bordeaux 2019 and advising members of any updates but in the meantime, ignore the sophistry from other merchants about now being the best time to invest in fine wine. Collect those you want to drink in the future, stock up on maturing vintages to drink now and where value is important, focus on Special Situations. Most of all, drink great wine from your cellar – that’s what it’s there for!