By George Stewart


En Primeur (EP): The practice of buying wine which is not yet ready for delivery. Involves the payment up front for the cost of the wine excluding taxes; the balance payable upon delivery. This is most common in Bordeaux and Burgundy but also occurs in the Rhône, Napa and Italy. This short guide will explain everything you need to get started with En Primeur from choosing your wine, arranging storage, eventual delivery and all the costs you’ll face along the way.

Getting started with En Primeur is a daunting prospect, but it does not have to be. In fact, what may seem to be the complex preserve of the savvy wine investor is becoming more practical for people looking to buy wine to drink themselves. The first question you will ask yourself is, “is En Primeur for me?” If you enjoy wine and want to start building a collection for the long-term, no matter how modest, then the answer is yes.

"If you enjoy wine and want to start building a collection for the long-term, no matter how modest, then En Primeur is for you."

The most important thing to know before you get into EP is that you will buy the wines now, but in the case of Bordeaux, you will not get them until two years later. This is because wines from the 2015 vintage, which are on sale now (through the summer of 2016) will be aged in barrel and bottle over the next two years. That is why you may see that the estimated delivery date on your wines will be Spring 2018. It’s almost like deliberately putting a tenner in the pocket of your ski jacket in March and being totally psyched when you find it the following winter. “Thanks, Past-Me!”

Getting Started

The first step is the most challenging, and that is choosing the wine(s) you want. During EP season, your merchant will be coming at you with countless offers for wines at every price point. If you want wine for drinking, think about how much you are generally willing to spend on a nice-to-nice+ bottle of wine and make that your budget. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your merchant and rest assured that they will be happy to give you honest guidance on these wines.

Once you’ve chosen your wine, you will pay upfront and then play the waiting game. Now is a good time to set up a bonded account if you don’t have one. This will afford you access to professional storage, and you will be charged only for the cases you store. Each merchant offers a different set of services.

At Cru, we have a full-service platform to meet the needs of all wine enthusiasts and serious wine collectors. Whether you would like to arrange transfer to store at a specific warehouse in the UK, Hong Kong or Singapore,  home delivery upon release, or offer the wines for sale, Cru has a suite of tools to help manage your portfolio, all in one place. 

Storage Options

When the wine is ready for delivery, you can elect to have it delivered to your home address or to a bonded warehouse. The advantage of a bonded warehouse is clear; the conditions are perfect, and if you live in a city like London, chances are your space is limited, and not many of us have the luxury of a home cellar. You will be able to buy as much wine as you want tax-free and store it indefinitely in perfect condition, paying a small price per case for the service.

If you want the wine sent to your home address then your merchant will simply bill you for the Duty + VAT and arrange delivery. You will be charged the prevailing rates at the time of delivery, rather than when you bought it, so this is something to bear in mind so it’s not a shock.

When it does show up, remember that not all wines bought EP come in wooden cases, so if this is something you want (better than cardboard for extended cellaring) be sure to check with your merchant when you’re first shopping.

If you have any questions about En Primeur, bonded storage or our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.