It looks like you are still using an browser that is no longer supported with security updates. Some features on this site may not work including the checkout. We strongly recommend that you either update your browser or use another one such as:

Google Chrome Microsoft Edge Firefox Safari
What is ‘En Primeur’?

January 9, 2024

What is ‘En Primeur’?

By: Tiffany Vernon

4 minutes read

When it comes to fine wine, the reference to buying bottles en primeur is batted around a fair bit. To the uninitiated, this can seem complicated and confusing or just plain double-dutch, but it’s not as scary as you might think…

Defining en primeur

The French term ‘en primeur’ roughly translates as ‘the first’, referring to wines available during their first release – typically whilst the wines are still maturing in barrel in the winemaker’s cellar. You may also see the term ‘futures’, which is the same concept but a little easier to say.

The idea is that you can purchase wines at their first release prices before they are bottled and shipped to the UK. This way, you can secure an allocation of sought-after wines (usually by the case) at a more affordable price for future enjoyment. You may also have the opportunity to specify your preferred format – bottles, half bottles, magnums and so on.



So, how exactly does it work?

Our Fine Wine Buying Team will visit the relevant wine region or country to taste barrel samples and talk to the winemakers first-hand to gain insight into the wines from the specified vintage. The team will compile their tasting notes and reports, which will form the basis of the relevant en primeur offer.

Once the offer is live, the wines are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so we encourage you to order as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. For wines with limited availability, an allocation process is employed.

Upon ordering, you pay for the wine upfront and then later pay the VAT and duty once the wines are shipped (usually a year or more later). You can opt to either have the wines delivered directly to your home address or keep them at Corney & Barrow’s state-of-the-art bonded warehouse. The latter option means the wines are stored ‘in bond’, and so you only need to pay the VAT and duty once you take receipt of the wines.

This sounds complicated!

Despite the various steps involved, the en primeur process is relatively straightforward. To make things easier, we will notify you by email when your wines arrive in the UK.

Think of en primeur wines more like a pre-ordering system – as you might pre-order the latest phone model, a limited-edition handbag or an exciting new book.

The initial payment secures your allocation and once the wines have been bottled by the producer and shipped by Corney & Barrow, you choose when to take receipt of them, at which point the taxes and duty are payable. Currently, duty is £2.67 per bottle* and VAT of 20% is charged on the bonded price plus duty.

Shipping and delivery costs, along with insurance on the wines at the current market value, are included in the en primeur prices. You will not be charged extra for these.

*Current prices at the time of publication, January 2024.

Why should I buy wines en primeur?

Purchase wines that won’t make it to the ‘shelves’.
Some wines are likely to sell out before they even make it to the UK, and therefore, purchasing en primeur secures an allocation of your desired bottles.

The best price.
En primeur wines are sold at first-release prices, making them more affordable. If you look to purchase the same wine later, once it has some bottle age and availability becomes more limited, the price may well have increased. There is no need to only purchase the super-premium wines this way either, you can regularly find en primeur wines that are below £10 a bottle.

Begin building your cellar.
These wines are intended to be matured for a few years and are a great way to stow away (either at home or in C&B customer reserves) to start building up your fine wine collection. If you are unsure how to begin your collection, join our Cellar Club – our dedicated team will guide you every step of the way on how to build your cellar and recommend wines to suit your budget.

An investment in future enjoyment.
Consider the long-term pay-off. Some wines may be ready to drink in just a few short years, while others may require decades of maturation; either way, you are investing in your future enjoyment of good things to drink! To browse all our current and previous en primeur offers, which include drinking window guides, see the C&B Offer Library. Alternatively, contact our Fine Wine Team for advice.

Which wines can I buy en primeur?

Bordeaux was the first wine region to introduce the en primeur buying system, but it has been adopted by many other regions and countries since.

Our en primeur offers include wines from the classic regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône and Champagne, alongside countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy, USA and New Zealand.

Have some more questions? See our En Primeur FAQs for further information.


For further information visit our Burgundy Hub for more information about our producers and 2022 vintage releases.

In-Bond / Retail products

Your cart contains both retail and in-bond products, you cannot checkout with both.