There’s just one more week to go before the great and the good of the wine world head over to Bordeaux for the annual Primeur Week tastings. That little period between Monday and Friday will determine much of rest of the year’s trading in the wines of arguably the world’s most famous red wines. But why? What exactly is it?
When they make a bottle of wine in Bordeaux, the farmers pick the grapes in October-ish time and then mush them up and leave them to ferment into wine. After a few months, March time, the fermentation is all done and it’s time sort out a blend. The chief winemaker works out how much Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest, to put in the final wine. Once that’s done, the wine gets put in oak barrels to rest up for a couple of years. Roughly that’s about how it’s done.
Big snag for the winemakers is that the oak barrels are expensive, and during those two years you’ve got all this lovely wine just sat there doing nothing. So some bright spark decided to start selling some of the wine in a “Primeur” market before it goes into the barrels. The winemakers get a bit of cash early doors, and (when it started) the punter who bought it got a slight discount, and received their wine 2 years later when it was released..
Nowadays the discount has pretty much gone with the mass of “wine investors” from round the world putting pay to that. But the punter can get access to wines that it’s not normally easy to get hold of after the wines are released from the barrel. That’s the biggest upside these days.
So what should you buy? Well, that’s where the Primeur Week comes in. The wine press descends on Bordeaux to taste the blends before they go into the barrels and tell everyone what they think. From a general good or bad year, to individually good or bad Châteaux.
Now usually the world’s wine press (unfortunately the UK press front of the queue) can’t wait to give Primeurs week a pasting. Interestingly this year they’ve not had anything nasty to say yet, which would indicate a fantastic vintage. So here’s hoping! I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂