Good news for wine buyers as Chateau Latour exits decades-old 'en primeur system.
Wine traders – or negociants – in France usually buy top wine long before it has been bottled and sell it on at high prices if the wine is expected to be high quality. However Chateau Latour has now told traders that its current vintage will be the last that they can buy in this way as it looks to stop wine speculators profiting from as-yet unproven wine.
Starting with the 2012 vintage, Chateau Latour will disregard the en primeur system and only sell its wine in bottles when it feels it is ready to drink. Experts said that the decision is good news for wine collectors, as buying already-bottled wine will take some of the uncertainty out of the process. Prices of previous vintages will no doubt increase with a lack of future supply.
A Chateau Latour source said: "Our team will taste the wine often and decide when it is ready. That’s the goal. We wanted to kill the speculation side of the market." However some traders reacted angrily to the news.
They speculated that the change has been designed to cut out the hundreds of middlemen in Bordeaux, who take a cut of the profit when they sell the wine on. Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners said that Chateau Latour's owner, Francois Pinault, the third richest man in France, according to Forbes, with a net worth of £13billion, could probably afford the change in system.
“For the consumer it might be a very good thing if a rich bloke in Paris is prepared to finance the maturation of all this wine," he said.
Mr Browett questioned whether other chateaux will follow suit.
“Personally I don’t think others will follow suit. Even the other first growths, with all their fame and pull find the negociant system works for them because they have other properties whose wines they want to sell. Lafite has Rieussec and properties in South America, for example," he said.