Sotheby’s Wines – Investing In Futures By Suzanne Aaronson, Founder of Whatsworthit.com
Suzanne Aaronson, founder of Whatsworthit.com, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sotheby’s Wine President and CEO Jamie Ritchie, to learn about wine futures as well as Jamie’s recent trip to Bordeaux….
Jamie, thanks for filling me and our readers in on the topic of Bordeaux Futures. Let’s start basic: what are they?
Buying wine futures — also known as En Primeur — means purchasing wines from Châteaux in Bordeaux that are still maturing in the barrel — and have not been bottled yet. “Futures” typically come on the market for sale in the Spring, following the harvest from the previous Fall, and are available for delivery two years later.
Are Futures only for serious wine collectors and investors?
Certainly not! In fact, buying Futures gives the purchaser the opportunity to buy the wine at the first release price, when the margins made by wine merchants are smallest. Most often, the price of the wine increases, as are the margins by wine merchants, once the wine is offered for sale in the bottle. Many vintages and formats (half bottles, magnums, double magnums or even larger bottles) are often hard to find once they are bottled. Futures are often purchased for a special birth year such as a gift for children or grandchildren, for weddings or for anniversaries.
Why Bordeaux Futures?
While some other regions/producers may sell Futures, Bordeaux is the most important wine that is traded as a Future. The wines are known to improve with age and generally increase in value over time. The top châteaux in Bordeaux offer the majority of their wines (approximately 80-90%) for sale as Futures and it is the first opportunity to purchase the new vintage.
You were recently in Bordeaux. Share some juicy bits about your trip please….?
Each April, members of our team and I visit the châteaux and négociants (wine merchants) in Bordeaux for one or two weeks to taste and rate each wine. We then make a short list of the wines we are interested in buying and, when the prices are released, we decide whether the price matches our assessment of the wine’s quality and whether we will take up our allocations or pass. Hard work, but fun.
Why buy Futures through Sotheby’s Wine?
Sotheby’s Wine has an experienced team of professionals that not only understand what the wine should taste like before it is bottled but also understand the market and the value of each wine in that market. In addition, since the buyer of Futures will have to wait two years until actually receiving the wine, it is important that the customer can trust from whom they are buying. After all, Sotheby’s is a publicly traded company with complete transparency and unrivaled integrity and expertise — we will deliver the Futures.