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Demystifying En Primeur
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Demystifying En Primeur

As a customer of Tanners, you will almost certainly have seen the words En Primeur, but what is it? Is it expensive? And where do you even start? Like you, I’m a Tanners customer. But it wasn’t until I started working at Tanners, and began my En Primeur journey that my preconceptions of it were corrected.

Before I understood En Primeur, it felt incredibly daunting. My preconceptions were based on images of top dollar, the finest châteaux and French that I just couldn’t pronounce. So, whilst I may have seen the word En Primeur in mailings and social posts, the mere fact it ‘sounded expensive’ deterred me from investigating further.

With Bordeaux 2023 upon us, let me try to help demystify En Primeur.

What is it?

It refers to wines that are waiting to be shipped to the UK, in most cases the wines are still in barrels in the grower’s cellar. When ordering En Primeur wines, you pay for them at the time of ordering and then pay the duty and VAT when they are shipped before the wines are delivered to you.

All En Primeur wines will have pre-advised shipping dates which can be months or even years ahead, so don’t expect them to turn up on the doorstep tomorrow. Upon delivery to the UK, you can either choose to have them delivered or, if you would prefer, you can store them with us (more on that below).

Doesn’t that feel exciting? Buying wine before it’s even been bottled feels like you’re immersing yourself in part of the wine's journey.

Where do you even start?

Perhaps this is your dilemma. The concept of En Primeur sounds appealing, but where do you begin? That was my problem. All I knew was that I wanted to build up my very own collection of wines over a long period to enjoy in the future. With significant occasions on the horizon, the big 3-0 is approaching next year (I know, woe is me! Clearly a product of my mid-90s generation) it’s nice to know that I have bottles ready and waiting to celebrate with. If you’re thinking about building your collection, but not quite sure how to approach it, adding bottles around styles and countries that you like is a good place to start.

Have a think about why En Primeur could work for you. Like me, perhaps you want to create a collection for your future self to enjoy. Or perhaps you wish to purchase wines that may increase in value and then sell on at a later date. What appeals to you?

Starting your En Primeur journey doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience. It was one of the reasons why I was put off from exploring it initially, I thought it would be overwhelmingly formal. All it needs to be is a relaxed conversation with one of the Fine Wine Team. Even if it’s just a more in-depth chat about En Primeur to help you gather your thoughts and understand the art of the possible, you will be thoroughly listened to, with no pressure to buy.

Let's talk money

En Primeur sounds expensive. Anything that dances around the term ‘investment’ can feel uncomfortable at times, shrouded in connotations of money and business. And yes, money is involved, but En Primeur need not be dominated by the big bucks.

You may be (pleasantly) surprised to hear that in the recent Rhône and Burgundy 2022 campaigns there were cases of six across the region that could be purchased for under £80. As a customer, my main purchases have been those that are around £100. With Bordeaux 2023, whilst I can’t predict the prices that are to be released, there will undoubtedly be very accessible price points.

Purchasing wines En Primeur is usually the most valuable time to buy them before they hit the shelves. Even more of a reason to snap them up early!

Like a kid in a sweet shop

Ok, so when can you buy En Primeur? Tanners have core annual En Primeur campaigns which usually feature wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhône, with additional ad-hoc campaigns (depending on availability and quality) which can include Champagne, Vintage Port (if declared) and the USA to name a few.

A great feature of En Primeur is that wine offerings are spread throughout the year. For example, Burgundy wine is typically launched in January and Bordeaux is usually offered in May. Having each offer dotted throughout the calendar means that there is plenty of choice over a steady period rather than being bombarded with wines all at once. This also means that you can ‘budget’ across the releases which is a far more friendly experience for newcomers. I am certainly not in the big spenders club so having the flexibility to peruse releases is a manageable way of building up a collection of wines.

It’s also the variety of wines that makes this buying route very appealing. With firm favourites revisited and new producers found, En Primeur offers a deep dive into countries and regions that are producing delicious, top-quality wines. Bordeaux is well known for vintage variation and the annual campaigns can be wildly different to one another so it’s definitely a campaign to keep an eye on each year.

With the impact of climate, weather and wine-making practices, each year can produce distinctly different characters and styles which can contribute to your buying decisions, perhaps an outstanding vintage is always on the horizon. That’s why En Primeur can be so captivating, it’s the thrill of waiting to see what appears.

Build your own Cellar and thank yourself later

Purchasing En Primeur is a fantastic way to gradually build up a collection of wine, effectively creating your very own cellar. Sadly, my house doesn’t come fully equipped with its own cellar. If yours does, then you’re very lucky (any room for a little one’s collection?). En Primeur wines often benefit from an array of maturation periods, be that short or long and having that time to sit quietly and develop leaves you with plenty of drinking options going forward. One of the most rewarding aspects of En Primeur is that it’s a great way to future-proof your access to wine. I guarantee in years to come I will thank myself for making investments in wines that I want to drink; they’re currently just sitting in storage, developing and maturing nicely, a bit like myself!

If you want to hit the ground running, Tanners create ready-made mini-cellars for you through the En Primeur Cellar Collections. With a range of price points and styles, these collections can take away the stress of deciding what to buy.

When one bottle isn’t enough

A standard bottle of wine is fine. Offered in cases of 6 or 12 bottles, these are great cellar building blocks. But why not add something different? One of the attractive features of En Primeur, especially Bordeaux, is the availability of different size bottles.

The availability of half bottles is underrated; great for sipping away at without the fear of wasting any. Or, throw a magnum, jeroboam or Imperial into your collection, with wonderful ageing potential and having the natural ability to visually captivate a table, larger bottles will satisfy a crowd or help celebrate special occasions.

Speaking of special occasions, that’s exactly what I had in mind when I became the proud owner of an Imperial of Château du Domaine de l’Eglise, Pomerol 2022 during last years Bordeaux En Primeur campaign. For context, that’s 6 litres of wine! What was I thinking?! Well, three possible scenarios may be fitting for this hefty monster: a big birthday, marriage (at this rate, not anytime soon), or maybe I’ll keep it pre-empting divorce.


Now, you’ve had a conversation with the Fine Wine Team, you’ve made a purchase and you’ve well and truly caught the En Primeur bug. But, where do you keep the wines once they land in the UK? With my purchases, I didn’t want to store them at home for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t have anywhere to put them. Secondly, I wanted to ensure that they were tucked away safe and sound.

That is one of the brilliant features of Tanners, any cases purchased directly can be stored safely in our bespoke reserve areas, with the freedom to take the cases out of storage when you want them. There is a small fee attached, and you have to take the bottles out how they went in eg if you added a case in then you have to take the whole case out, but I believe the knowledge that your beloved bottles are being looked after properly, in the correct conditions, far outweighs the minor charge per bottle.

So, that was my look into the appealing qualities of buying En Primeur. I do hope it’s something you will explore going forward. And if you decide to jump on board Bordeaux 2023, perhaps our wines will share a shelf in storage one day.



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