“En primeur” is a popular purchase system in Bordeaux where the wines are sold and bought while they are still being aged in barrels, to be delivered once the process has ended. Theoretically it could be good both for the producer and the customer, the former is getting money sooner and the latter is buying a wine that ideally should be cheaper than the finished product. This is not always true and the system has gone through criticism in recent years, but that’s another story.
There have been producers in other regions who had tried to test the water, but en primeur has never been very popular outside the Gironde. In Italy there are consorzios organizing “anteprime” (previews) of their newest vintage, but at that point the wines are almost ready to be released. It is not an en primeur system.
Now the Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo Foundation, the CRC Donare Foundation and the Consortium of Protection of Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe and Dogliani have come together to organize a charity en primeur sale of Barolo wine coming from the Gustava Vineyard (4 hectares in Grinzane Cavour), property of the CRC Foundation.
This is a proper en primeur: the wines come from the 2020 vintage and they are still ageing in barrique. The bidders however will not bid for the wine itself, but to support socially useful projects identified by the Foundations, to which the money will be donated. The supporter will then receive a barrique of wine that will be kept ageing at Cantine Ascheri and until January 2024, when they will able to collect the 300 bottles coming out of it, complete with label.
Famous wine critic Antonio Galloni is also involved in the project: he has tasted each of the 15 barriques put on sale and his comments will be available to the bidders. The tasting note itself will become property of the person who obtained the corresponding barrel. Besides, the auction will be conducted by the popular auction house Christie’s, which already has a vast experience in the wine auction sector.
This is an interesting project: will it be able to kickstart a wider interest towards en primeur auctions in Italy? I think that in some famous regions that could be a feasible option.
The event is just one month away (30 October), let’s wait and see.
More information at the official page.