So Latour has announced that the 2011 vintage will be the last one it is releasing en primeur, and will henceforth only release vintages that it considers ready to drink. It’s too early to say whether this marks the end of the negociant system (which relies heavily on en primeur sales for cashflow), but we think it’s a move in the right direction. There are very few Bordeaux estates which deal directly with importers and distributors, preferring to work via negociants, but that’s an anomaly placed against the context of developments elsewhere – e.g. the rise of recoltants-manipulants in Champagne, domaine bottling in Burgundy and Barolo/Barbaresco, and importers working directly with wine estates.
Perhaps in a few years’ time we’ll be importing Bordeaux – there are two estates which we love, neither of which are first growths. Both make delicious, age-worthy and elegant claret, a rarity nowadays.