What is ‘En Primeur’ week? How does it work? And why is it so important?
For those of you who are not familiar with the term ‘Futures’ or ‘Primeurs’ in French, I will take my next few posts to share a brief explanation of the frenzy that takes over the wine world each spring. In addition to a few explanations and anecdotes, there will be a series of four short videos explaining the Primeur process from how it began, through the allocations of the merchants in the Place de Bordeaux.
Episode 1: Content & History
The ‘en primeur’ system began in the 16th Century and was originally created by the British to trade Port wine from Portugal. This system then evolved to include the Bordeaux wines in the later part of the 16th century, as advanced payments for the Futures helped to finance upcoming vintages in hard times. After the grapes are harvested in September and October, the processes of fermentation take place before the wine is stored in barrels. A tasting takes place in March, allowing wine professionals, journalists, and media to taste the most recent vintage, this year the 2011s. A spring tasting means that wines which will be aged in oak barrels for 12-18 months on average, have had only a few months of ageing. The great challenge in tasting wine futures is to project how the wine will evolve over the next 5-20 years, hence the ‘future’ title. This is extremely interesting, but not the easiest task as the wines are often particular at this stage of development (my personal reflections on this topic to follow).
Stay tuned for my next post concerning the process of Primeur tastings, plus some more videos, tasting notes and a brief summary of my personal experience during the tasting week!
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