En Primeur 2017 – A GrapeWizard insight!

Every time at this time of the year we see hoards of wine buyers and wine critics trekking down to the Gironde in Bordeaux – Moleskine in hand ,¬†full of previous years grape notes and baguette stuffed full of ham and cheese – ūü•™ Ready for the onslaught that is Bordeaux En Primeur


And Them !!

Ready to taste arguably the worlds best wines. En Primeur is a funny old thing.

It’s like buying a flat or house off plan (wine is in the barrel and a price is set for investors and consumers to purchase. Months later the wine is placed in bottles and the price is re-assessed.) In all this time critics and producers rate the wines – influencing the price up or down. Do you buy or choose something else. What is the best Chateau for the year and can i get my hands on it ?


Want to see my last article on 2016 ?

 (Click here to see 2016 En Primeur) 


Wine critics and Producers normally have a consensus on the very best years (1982, 1990 2000 2005 2009 2010, 2016 ) . These are the best years to get your wines from – but it will cost you !!

A few years ago Lafite Rothschild was trading at ¬£22000 a case. Some months later it was down to ¬£14000. – if you were an investor that was bad news. It shows how much is at stake if you make the wrong choice or buy at the peak of the value price. Chateau Pavie, by comparison was raised in the upper echelons of ‘Class A’¬† St Emillion classification (explained) – as a result bottle price went from. ¬£300 to ¬£1300. For the investor this is good news for the consumer not so.

The secret is finding out which producer has excelled in that particular year.

2017 was not without its problems though as various wine critics have stated :


Will Lyons(L) of Berry Bros has stated that the “wines are lively and fresh and are possibly not of the quality of 2015 or 16” (9/10’s in the wine world – 2005 and 2000 would be a 10) Bordeaux yield (grapes grown) is also down by 40% on 2016 equating to a loss of 300 million bottles.

Jancis Robinson (M)highlights that there was a small crop this year (supported by Lyons ) that was at least 45% down on last year, that the growing season was “pretty good” but that 80% of the top wines from the best producers were not impacted by frost. Very good year for Pauillac, St-Julien, St-Est√®phe. Bulk wines went up and top wines prices stayed static..

She believes that almost all of the top and very good wines are not affected. Good for potential investors.
JamesSuckling.com (R) states “The quality of 2017 is much better than most people might expect… it‚Äôs not in the same league as the outstanding 2016 and 2015 vintages.”

He scored some of the wines from the great names of Bordeaux – 96 to 99 points. The 2017 vintage underlines that vintage variations among the top wines of Bordeaux

GW Tip

So you have to be very careful when choosing to invest or to enjoy the wines by comparable years. So safely assume 2017 to be a 7 or 8. Kind of really good but not exceptional or outstanding. Not as good as the last two years but no far off.

Chateau Andulet and Chateau Climens wiped out complete stock and have stated that no production occured. A result of the frost.

All of this seems quite negative news there is some positive -the frost that seems to have attacked so much of Bordeaux seems to have affected only C√ītes de Castillion-Blaye,¬† St Emillion and Pomerol. Only small areas and not the big swathes of the heartland of Bordeaux

The frost seems to have crossed the Gironde and affected up to 1 km inland. See Gavin Quinneys map below


CouGavin Quinney

Please click on each map to see how close the frost got on the 2017 growing season . Any vineyards that are 1km from the river are vunerable to damage. Be cautious .


View the map below and use the red amber green spots to warn you of what to not invest in and what your safe with !


¬†Avoid C√ītes de Castillion blaye and lesser top chateausred-horse-dot-m_2778460a

Chateaus close to the gironde (within 1km)- See Below

Grand Puy Ducasse (St Estephe)avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Coufran (haut Medoc)avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Ch. Malacasse (Haut Medoc)avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Ch. Delamarque (Haut- Medoc)avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Ch. Leovill – Poyferre (choose wisely) avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Green GreenCircle-56a87e193df78cf7729e54d9   Click here to see a list of top Chateaus largely unaffected by the frost

So vineyards that fall into the red dot are producers to very carefully consider not investing in

Vineyards in the Orange dot fall in the danger zone of the frost of 2017 – research very carefully

Vineyards that fall in the green dot require very little research as 80% of the top chateaus had no problems whatsoever.

So the most important thing to understand is what wines are investable what regions are the right regions for climate over the growing season and which ultimately will mature over 10+ years. So far 2016 and 15 are better than 17 and for that reason demand will not be as high as the previous 2 years.

d’Yquem 201798-99
Latour 201798-99
Cheval Blanc 201797-98
Ch√Ęteau Suduiraut 201797-98
Cos d’Estournel 201797-98
Ducru Beaucaillou 201797-98
L’Eglise Clinet 201797-98
Lafite Rothschild 201797-98
Lafleur 201797-98
Margaux 201797-98

taken from James Sucklings website En Primeur 2017


So just by giving two examples the consensus is not universal – it is merely subjective. If i highlight 6 critics you would probably find different conclusions to the vintages .

If  everyone rated exactly the same that would be boring !

If you keep a close eye on the market and the ongoings with potential sales of Chateau’s classifications and what producers are doing ¬†you can get a fair indication of what might happen. That is¬† the time to invest. In the last year I have invested ¬£2500 and made ¬£500 on that ¬†Most of the wines have not matured yet or are on the cusp of the maturing window. Not bad for a beginner….

GW Investment tips


2017 Leoville Barton(no prices released as yet) (2016’s price was ¬£370 /6 outstanding value


2017 Decru- Beaucaillou (no prices released as yet) (2016 ¬£142.00×6 =¬£852 )


2017 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus(no prices released as yet)(2016 ¬£158×6 = ¬£948)

If your feeling brave ………..


2017 Chateau Angelus, St Emillion (no prices released as yet)(2016 ¬£298×6 = ¬†¬£1788)

and the outsider


2017¬†Chateau Clinet (no prices released as yet)(2016 ¬£78×6= ¬£468)

Whether you have a preference for one wine critic or another the best thing a wine investor/consumer is have some affinity with their chosen critic. It is important that you believe in the tastes and experience of your chosen taster. Whether it be status  or the way he/she writes one thing is important is that you have that relationship.  Hundreds of critics exist out there  some notable examples are :

What ever your choice do it because you like them !

If you are going to invest in this year , be cautious. There are a lot of fabulous regions waiting to be discovered  Рnot just bordeaux

Washington Wineries, USA

Oregon Wineries, USA

Alsace wines , EU

Wines of Great Britain, UK

All these areas offer good value for money and have a diverse range of tastes and styles. something for everyone. Explore and transport. Its so cheap to do so

Remember its your money Have fun with it . This could be the new pension . Wine is in demand .

Wine Investment

Stick to a few rules and you can’t go wrong !

Enjoy the Journey !!!




En- Primeur 2016 : Leoville barton -the one to watch with unbeatable value !

This year , as happens every year, in the wine market the release of the en-primeur wines is upon us. The importance of price relies on the quality of the vintage . The best years of Bordeaux carry the greater demand and the years that are regarded as the worst are usually cheaper. ¬†These best years are often called “the stellar years” – 1982, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010 and now possibly 2016.

 Get the right producer for the right price and you could invest into a good return (Wine investment)

So what is a good investment in this years 2016 release

Having looked quite closely at the recent release there were prices that had jumped up (markets view on Prices) Indeed these producers have their prices listed below :

Chateau                 Release Price             Current Price (GBP)         % Change
Haut Brion                 £4,150                            £4,550                              9.64%
Lafite                          £4,390                             £5,000                             13.90%
Marguax                    £4,400                             £6,050                              37.50%
Mouton                      £4,150                             £4,600                              10.84%
Las Cases                   £1,450                             £1,590                               9.66%
Angelus                      £2,650                            £2,950                                11.32%
Palmer                        £2,160                            £2,400                               11.11%

So which Chateau is good value – one producer that stands out is


this years release price is ¬†¬£372 En Primeur for a ¬Ĺ case of 6 must be a steal !

To explain En Primeur in Grapewizard speakeasy is simple !

  • Wines are bought before they are bottled and released onto the market.
  • Wines are void of Duty and VAT and then usually shipped 2-3 years after the vintage.¬†
  • Wines are bought at In Bond prices – No Duty or VAT paid¬†
  • On arrival in the UK the wines will be stored, under bond until they are bought and then tax is paid

The main advantage with this is that the prices are always considerably cheaper than the future price of the wine on the open market.

How much is Wine Duty?
£2.16 per 75cl bottle of still wine.
UK VAT = 20% (applied after duty)

So add En Primeur price + £2.16 per bottle(Duty) and 20%vat  increase = cost of bought wine

Wine is a great investment and has been outstripping gold and silver in recent years and is often seen as an alternative to investing in Art

NOW the fun bit !!! 

LEOVILLE BARTON is situated in one of Bordeaux’s favoured regions . That of St Julien

St Julien is the smallest of the ‚ÄėBig Four‚Äô M√©doc communes, it is recognised as one of the most consistent of the main regions . ¬†At their very finest they combine Margaux‚Äôs elegance and refinement with Pauillac‚Äôs power and substance.

L√©oville Barton one of three estates in the L√©oville estate and has been owned by the Barton family since 1826. There is no ch√Ęteau and the wine is made at Langoa Barton. L√©oville Barton’s 48 hectares of vineyards are located in the east of the St-Julien wine appellation and lie on gravelly-clay soils. They are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon 72%, Merlot 20%, Cabernet Franc 8%. The wine is matured in oak barrels ¬†(50% new) for 18 months.

Since Anthony Barton (8th Generation) took over the reins quality has soared at Léoville Barton and the wine has gone from being a solid mid-league performing 2ème Cru Classé to one of the most exciting wines in St. Julien.

  • L√©oville Barton is tannic and austere in youth but with time turns into a cedary character that is the hallmark of St. Julien, along with intensely pure blackcurrant and cassis fruit notes.

L√©oville Barton’s wines are made for cellaring show at their best with 10-15 years of bottle ageing.

Anthony Barton was born in 1930 . He stood in line to inherit very little of the wine estate. His elder brother Christopher was the heir to other estates whilst the Bordeaux domaines belonged to his uncle Ronald who was expected to marry and have his own children who would subsequently inherit his estates. However Ronald was old by the time he married and had no children, thus Anthony who became heir.

¬†He moved to Bordeaux in 1951. ¬†and such was the harvest that year that Anthony’s ¬†Uncle Ronald told him, ”Another harvest like this and I will have to sell”.

¬†Since 1986, Anthony has lived in the M√©doc ch√Ęteau with his wife Eva.


Other notable family members to the estate include

  • Lilian Barton Sartorius (9th Gen.) and Anthony’s daughter
    Studied in England and at the age of 22 Lilian joined her father at his merchant company and obtained the DUAD wine tasting diploma at the University of Bordeaux.


For over 30 years they have divided their responsibilities between the Saint Julien vineyards and the merchant business ‘Les Vins Fins Anthony Barton’, where they were joined by Lilian’s husband, Michel Sartorius. Lilian Barton has now taken over from her father in running the wine properties and family merchant company. She has since been joined by her two children, M√©lanie and Damien.

  • M√©lanie Barton Sartorius,


the family’s 1st Oenologist, took on the role of Technical Director in 2013 at Chateau Mauvesin Barton in Moulis (M√©doc), a domaine that was purchased by the family in 2011.

  • Damien Barton Sartorius


divides his time between the family’s properties and other wine related projects.


1st Wine           Chateau Leoville Barton

2nd Wine          La Reserve de Leoville Barton  

As with most Bordeaux producers every winemaker showcases their fines wines as the chateaux’s jewel. ¬†Wines that are made to be accessible to the greater public at a lesser cost and intended to be a snapshot of what is about to come are often referred to as “second wines” ¬†These are in no way inferior and allow consumers to purchase wines from high or low rated producers.

83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc


DATES OF MANUAL HARVEST –¬†25th september to 8th october

A stream of cherries, raspberries and grapefruit… Opulent and rich but with a glamour and class side, wrapped in a lace dress, extremely fine.

Wine cellar Insider commented on the 2016 Leoville Barton ‚Äď “A nose of blackberry, licorice, earth and smoky tobacco is easy to notice. Darkly colored, Full bodied, rich, fresh, long and sweet, there is a reflection coming off the ample tannins and lift that accentuates the densely textured, fruit-filled finish. This wine leaves a great impression. Produced from blending 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot, the wine reached 13% alcohol. The harvest took place September 29 to October 13. 94 ‚Äď 96 Pts

¬†Fine + Rare commented “A consistent appellation from a quality perspective that offers masses of variety in terms of style. St Julien also appears to have produced some outstanding wines. Trademark elegance is abundant, combined robust but silky tannins, these were a pleasure to taste. Critics have already singled out Ducru-Beaucaillou and L√©oville Las Cases for enormous praise. Although dependent on final pricing, Talbot and Clos du Marquis may well offer excellent value. Although only a handful of critics have released their scores, tasting notes from St Julien are peppered with ‚Äúbest ever‚ÄĚ and comparisons to 2009, 2010 and 2015”

This wine is sure to last at least till 2040


So although a brief snap shot of the producer is outlined above there is an awful lot of choice for consumers to purchase and drink. Each region has its own characteristic and St Julien is no different. One omission in this blog is the price of Leoville-Barton’s 1st wine was approx ¬£1500 per case (early 80’s) and yet today it is ¬£374 for six. This can only surely be down to the producer being out of favour with drinkers. This producer is a favoured producer of Bordeaux and the quality is never in question. Maybe market demand is fickle and could be cyclical. What was once popular may once again be so. Tastes change and at the moment ¬†Leoville-Barton is a serious inclusion to any investment

Its just a shame i have to wait a pesky 10-15 years to try it at its best




music Pairing :           images-1

Enjoy with “time-out” peace of mind and a leather club chair !