Subscription is a term that always leads to question marks among less experienced wine drinkers. We would like to counteract this and clarify a little.

Subscription, also called en primeur, is nothing more than a commodity futures transaction: I pay for a wine that I will only receive in the future. In the wine world, this concept has really only been used in Bordeaux for decades. In other countries, it is done, if at all, at most for the very large and rare wines. In Germany, for example, it has been possible to subscribe to certain great growths for a few years now. Spontaneously, the wines of Klaus Peter Keller come to mind. His wines, just like the French models, are sold after the first aging and are very sought after and sold out within hours. However, they are delivered only after the aging and the bottle maturity estimated by the winemaker.

But what exactly happens during the subscription?

Im Bordeaux verkauften die Winzer ihre Weine früher Fassweise an die Zwischenhändler, die sogenannten Negociants. Diese füllten die Weine dann in Flaschen ab und verkauften sie dann weiter. Offenbar war man bei den Franzosen genötigt, dies Spiel mitzuspielen. Wo sonst würde man Wein kaufen, den man zuvor nicht probieren konnte? Bis vor kurzem standen die Türen dieses En-Primeur-Zirkus ausschliesslich der Fachpresse und renommierten WeinkritikerInnen offen. Der Privatkunde hatte also nur die Möglichkeit, die Verkostungsnotizen zu lesen und blind zu kaufen. Heutzutage gibt es aber auch Fachhändler, welche einen beachtlichen Teil der Bordeauxwinzer in die Schweiz holen und die Fassmusterproben dem breiten Publikum anbieten. veranstaltet meiner Meinung nach die ausführlichsten Verkostungen von Fassmusterproben in der Schweiz und ist für den interessierten Weintrinker sicher einen Besuch wert.

Aber warum soll ich subskribieren?

There is the issue of availability. Often, particularly sought-after wines are very rare, and the only way to secure them is to buy them by subscription. Another advantage is that the price is lowest in the first wave of subscriptions. We know that, and of course, the distributors know that too. So everything is always scarce and hardly available. That is why a wine experiences a first price increase already in the subscription. So the FOMO principle (Fear of missing out) works perfectly here too!

Unfortunately, buying “cheap” in the sub is not the rule. One must observe the price development of the individual wines well and look a little behind. Not infrequently, the price trend for wine also goes backward, then you have paid more for your wine treasures in the sub than they cost at release. But between us: I personally don’t like to pay too much either, of course. But who cares in twenty years whether he has paid 5.- or 20.- francs too much. You just enjoy your precious items.

Barrel storage at Smith Haut-Lafitte (c) by Adrian van Velsen

Another advantage is that you can choose the format of your wines. We remember: that the wine is not yet in bottles at the time of purchase. And here’s my tip: Buy Bordeaux wines in large formats such as magnum or double magnum. If you want to put something aside for your milestone birthday, or for your children’s 30th, you should go for even larger formats and buy one or two Imperials right away. These bottles not only promise better enjoyment but also last longer than the normal bottle.

Then there is the origin. Those who buy wines on the secondary market often do not know where they have been in the world, let alone how they have traveled. And not often do wines end up in some unrefrigerated shipping container. Anyone who has a little imagination knows how hot it gets in such a container when it lies on top of the ship and is exposed to the sun every day. You don’t want to have a wine like that in your own wine store – not for free! So, in principle, it is not wrong to buy the wines from a specialized dealer, where you know that the wines directly from Bordeaux end up in the cellar. A list of specialty retailers that have a top assortment can be found here.

So there are many good reasons to buy wine by subscription. My favorite reason is that I always get extra pleasure when I get the wines. Because I have already forgotten what I paid for it. And here the magic happens: At the end, it is more or less free wine for you!

We offer our customers who rent a wine storage compartment with us the service that they can have the ordered wines delivered directly to us in the wine cellar, we receive them for them and store them with them in the compartment. So you do not have to carry boxes anymore. If you have any questions about our service, just get in touch using our contact form. We will answer your questions shortly.