The Corkscrew Concierge has bought some Futures! So yeah, that sounded totally 3rd person pretentious. OK, I got some Futures. Or is it “A Future” since I only bought one bottle? At any rate, for years I’d been hearing folks talk about “Futures” and initially had no clue what they were a talking about. As my wine knowledge increased and evolved, I began to understand the concept but kept thinking, “Why in the Hell would I buy something that won’t be delivered for years when I could drop dead tomorrow?” Now don’t get me wrong, I am a planner when it comes to some things (the retirement date I have circled on my calendar 11 years from now, my kids college funds, etc.) but I have trouble grasping planning so far in the future for wine. Particularly because when I receive it, I will still need to hold on to it for several years before drinking.
Well I do a fair amount of wine shopping on Wine.com and when this email appeared in my Inbox, I thought it was time to get the real lowdown and play the game. I mean, I buy stock, so why not this?
So what exactly are Futures? The phrase Wine Futures, also known as En Primeur in French, is a reference to purchasing wine before it is even bottled. Pre-buying if you will. Wine Futures are a specialty of the Bordeaux wine market, but the concept has been catching on in other wine regions. After the grapes are harvested and the wine in barrels for around six months or so, folks in the wine trade such as wine merchants and journalists are invited to try barrel samples. Based on their perceptions, the wine merchants will buy future “stocks” of the wine which they sell to their customers. The wine journalists publish their impressions and ratings of the wines in various publications. All of this creates a lot of buzz in the industry. There are several more intermediaries (shippers, importers, wholesalers, retailers, etc.) before someone like me can purchase. After purchasing, you then wait for your wine to be bottled, released, and shipped. In my case, now that I’ve made my En Primeur purchase, I will wait a little over two years for it to get to me.
I know, I know! What if it’s awful? What if Wine.com disappears with my money? What if I get hit by a bus (knocking on wood) and never get to drink it? Like anything else, there are no guarantees so you have to do a little research and make some prudent choices. Part of my strategy was to buy a wine that has historically been very good vintage after vintage. And I purchased from a merchant that has been around for years. I also used my Amex and they are awesome at protecting your purchases.
OK, so what’s the point of all of this? There are folks out there that swear that this is a prudent investment and they make money at it. If all works as it should, my bottle should be worth more (I hope a lot) in a couple of years than what I purchased it for. So I could either enjoy it years later when it’s ready to drink and pat myself on the back for getting it at such a steal or I could sell it and make money. Again, like a share of stock, you want to buy low and sell high. Of course it could go the other way and decline in value. Fingers crossed…
OK, so what did I buy? Well there were some pricey options for sure. I saw prices from $12 up to $2,500 (Chateau Petrus anyone?).
But remembering Thing 1 and Thing 2’s college funds and my penciled in retirement date, I went somewhere in the middle. I bought the 2015 Chateau Palmer.
Chateau Palmer is located in the Margaux AOC of Bordeaux. Yeah, we’ll tackle all that Bordeaux stuff in another post.
The 2014 was available as well and was actually a little less expensive. But in my research I saw that the so-called experts were saying that 2015 was the best vintage (year) since 2010. So that’s what I went with.
And I’m happy to report that a couple of months after I bought mine, the price has gone up by $4. So who knows what late 2018 will hold. Stay tuned…