You’ve all heard it… it’s that time of year again – Bordeaux is back with a bang! The 2022 en primeur campaign kicked off this week with two major releases – Cheval Blanc & Angélus – the latter with an unprecedented price increase.
Once again – and more so than ever – we’re asking the forbidden question: “Is buying en primeur really worth it?”
This campaign touts another “legendary” vintage in Bordeaux – and while true enough (we loved most of the top wines we’ve tasted), this is something you’ve already heard for 2009, 2010, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
In terms of quality, there is no doubt that 2022 produced wines of exceptional pedigree. But bear in mind that it was a vintage with record drought and heat, so there is undeniable variability once you move away from the top terroirs / estates.
With all the noise that this campaign aims to attract, we are keeping our feet firmly on the ground, analysing each release at it comes to evaluate its genuine benefit for our clients. In an environment where interest rates start to matter for both trade and consumers who finance these wines prior to bottling, keeping an informed perspective on the exercise is more crucial than ever.
The fundamental parameter to compel a purchase now is and remains price.
We’ve recently looked back across the past 15 years, analysing the correlation between release pricing and returns for Bordeaux’ most coveted wines (see graph. below).
- The higher the release price, the lower the returns over time
- Vintages released in times of crisis / uncertainty such as 2019, 2008, 2020 offer the best returns on investment
- Based on an estimated average price jump of 25%, 2022 is projected to deliver 2-5% CAGR in the near-to-mid term.
Net, we are not expecting 2022 to generate returns above cost of capital if releases continue at this price level. Unless you’ve had a child in 2022, the only remaining arguments for buying Bordeaux 2022 en primeur are either to secure large formats before their in-bottle premium kicks in, or to avoid future disappointment for hard-to-source wines.
As a real asset, fine wine has a proven track-record of delivering steady returns with good downside protection, whilst hedging against inflation. In this context, it is easy to get drawn in by en primeur excitement, yet given the geopolitical state of the world, the price hikes anticipated for 2022 are of concern.
For some wines, buying en primeur will genuinely be worthwhile, and we’ll add these to our clients’ collections straight away. Otherwise, our immediate approach to the 2022 campaign will be more selective. As we aim to protect our clients’ wealth, we will continue to build collections based solely on sourcing the right wines, at the right times, and of course only with indisputably perfect provenance.