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Bordeaux en-primeur 2017


Wine Cellar has been offering Bordeaux en-primeur since the 2002 vintage. The en-primeur system affords wine collectors and enthusiasts the opportunity to buy a selection of 500 châteaux in the desired bottle size at the lowest possible price. The 2017 vintage will be sold in an en-primeur campaign from April through to June 2018. Wines are offered in 6 or 12 bottle cases, unless packed otherwise, for bottling and import mid-2020.

The vintage

Late April frost played a major role across Europe in 2017 and Bordeaux experienced the worst frost in 25 years. This has dramatically reduced yields in some areas and volume is down 45% on 2016.

When you look at the 12-month cycle, 2017 was a dry vintage and produced concentrated wines. The critics are citing 2017 as a good Bordeaux vintage with peaks reaching 2016 level but without the consistency. Alcohols are moderate, 13-14%, and there is a purity of fruit that signals a more classic vintage. At this early stage, vintages such as 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2014 may be comparable.

Bright fruit, soft tannins and intense acidity.’ – Roger Voss, Wine Magazine

I think that many wineries made wines at the same level or better than 2012 and a number made better wines than 2014.’ – James Suckling

The Cabernet Sauvignon looks especially good and although many châteaux completed their harvest in late September, the fine weather in the last fortnight of the month gave châteaux the opportunity to hang on until the first week of October if needed.’ – Bill Blatch 

It's not a blockbuster year but the tannins and the fruit were ripe and we should see wines at the same quality level as 2012 (an underrated year in my book) or perhaps 2014. (Some up north on the left bank are even mentioning 2015…)’ – Bill Blatch 

Bill Blatch has once again offered a full review of the 2017 vintage, along with great pictures to demonstrate the frost impact.


There are a host of wines that will not be offered en-primeur, including Wine Cellar favourites like La Pointe, Mauvesin-Barton, Haut-Bergey, de Fonbel, Fleur du Bouard and de Fieuzel. Much of the left bank, which is regulated by the Gironde River, escaped the frost and produced relatively normal yields. As did the plateau of St Èmilion. 80% of the top wines from 150 leading châteaux were not impacted by the frost.

The recent trend, boosted by sales of the best vintages, is for the top Bordeaux to produce less Grand Vin, produce more of their second wines, and release less wines en-primeur. This means that demand will trump supply on the best deals and properties.


So far James Suckling and James Molesworth have produced a verdict. The Wine Advocate score may be insignificant this year as Neal Martin has moved over to partner with Antonio Galloni (also ex Wine Advocate) at Vinous.com. The market will likely react to a basket of en-primeur scores for the first time in more than decades.

James Molesworth’s top wines (93-96)
Angelus, Beau-Sejour-Becot, Beausejour Duffau-Lagarosse, Canon, Clos Fourtet, Ducru-Beaucaillou, La Fleur Petrus, Leoville Barton, Leoville Las Cases, La Mondotte, Pavie, Trotanoy, Valandraud, Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pape-Clement Blanc, de Fargues and Doisy-Daene L’Extravagant.

James Suckling’s top wines (97-98)
Cheval Blanc, Cos d'Estournel, Ducru Beaucaillou, l'Eglise Clinet, Lafite Rothschild, Lafleur, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild, Palmer, Pape Clement Blanc, Rieussec, Suduiraut and Vieux Chateau Certan.


We suspect that prices will be reduced by around 10-20% from the 2016 vintage. The Rand/Euro exchange rate is similar to last year. If the reductions are significate, the châteaux will release stock at higher prices in the future and if there is an upgrade in the consensus quality of the vintage, prices may increase. ‘If it doesn't turn out to be an excellent vintage, then prices likely won't appreciate, and there may be no need to rush,’ says James Molesworth.

What to buy?

Wine Cellar will have access to almost all the wines of Bordeaux. We will, however, not be buying across the board and in order to ensure your purchase, we ask for upfront requests. The popular châteaux amongst Wine Cellar customers over the last 2 decades will be offered through the Bordeaux en-primeur newsletter, sign up here, as well as being listed here. We can also suggest a basket of wines depending on your preferred style.

Should I buy?

Buying en-primeur is a speculative purchase and open to the Rand/Euro volatility as well as Bordeaux market fluctuations over the next 2 years. There are also many wines that do not appreciate before release in bottle.

Buying en-primeur does, however, offer you the opportunity to buy from 400 Bordeaux châteaux at the same time and in any bottle size you wish. In order to complete globally, our margins en-primeur are also greatly reduced compared to our retail offering. These are likely the lowest prices you will be able to purchase these wines at. Some of our customers consider the purchase a long-term, non-Rand-based investment while others enjoy keeping them in their cellar or snapping up the best buys. 

If the wines are reduced 20% or more than last year, the best of 2017 Bordeaux will be an attractive purchasing opportunity. 

How to buy

Respond to one of our Bordeaux en-primeur newsletters or order via email or phone from Roland@winecellar.co.za while stocks last. Alternatively, you can send through your wishlist at any time.

– Roland Peens (April 2018)


Bordeaux en primeur 2016

Wine Cellar offers the greatest wine region in the world en-primeur (as futures). 2017 will be our 17th Bordeaux campaign and will be offered from April 2018 onwards for delivery in 2020.
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Wine Cellar imports fine wine from Europe, offers antipodean wines, fine local wines as well as brokers your fine wine. We also focus on selling wines en-primeur (as futures) from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône.
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