The October 2006 issue of the Food & Wine Magazine features Robert Parker’s take on the ultra-hyped vintage 2005 Bordeaux wines long after the first futures was offered. It is akin to an updated review on the vintage. Commentaries like Parker's are relevant to wine collectors in order to get a sense of perspective; have we been sucked in by the senseless frenzy of the market? It serves to calm down buyers’ anxieties.
Here is the article in Food & Wine Magazine, issue October 2006.
(If the link is broken, the PDF version is available here)
3 years ago in 2003, still reeling from the disappointment of missing the 2000 en primeur boat, I decided to get into the excellent 2003 Bordeaux en primeur market. I only purchased 3 cases, one of which is a Sauternes sweet wine. By that time, the recently released vintage 2000 Bordeaux had reached stratospheric prices in the stores.
We are seeing this 2000 mania again with the “BEST EVER!” 2005 vintage Bordeaux. The market for 2005 wines is super-hyped left and right, up and down by everyone from the producers to the retailers, as well as by wine writers. All these have helped drive futures' prices for the 2005 vintage to become the highest ever in the history of Bordeaux.
I’ve decided to forego the 2005’s overpriced futures for something that I love as much: 2005 pu’er teas and 2005 German Rieslings. They are both as ageworthy as fine Bordeaux, and maybe more so.
What is en primeur / futures?
It is basically buying your wine in advance, before it’s even bottled. The grape juice is practically still inside the oak barrels at the Chateaux when you buy it. Major critics and buyers travel to Bordeaux to get a first-hand taste on the juice and evaluate their potential. Then the wines are offered to the consumers by the importers/wholesalers/retailers. This is why consumers rely heavily on their favorite [supposedly] independent wine critics/writers/publications, such as Michael Broadbent, Steven Tanzer, Robert Parker, Decanter Magazine, Wine Spectator Magazine, etc. as guides.
It is also, basically, an educated gamble. Depending on subsequent news and critics’ reviews, a wine produced by a particular Chateau may appreciate or depreciate in value before it even hits the retail floor. Therefore, it can be said that if you buy a futures for $30/bottle and this particular wine hits retail at $40/bottle, your investment has appreciated by 33.33% or you have saved 25% off retail price (not taking into account future value of present dollar, etc). However, the opposite may also happen. Some win, some lose.
Read The Wine Doctor’s excellent article about en primeur to learn more.