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What Are Futures?

Buying Futures—also known as En Primeur—means purchasing wine that is still maturing in the barrel. This is wine that has not yet been bottled.

The top Châteaux in Bordeaux offer the majority of their wines (approximately 80- 90%) for sale as Futures in the Spring following the harvest. As a result, this is the first opportunity to purchase the new vintage. Bordeaux is the most important wine that is traded as a Future, but some other regions/producers also make their wines available.

Why Buy Futures From Sotheby's Wine?

  • We only offer what we believe are the best wines from each vintage that are priced correctly.
  • Our team are experienced tasters, who also know the underlying market and the value of each wine in that market.
  • We are fast, efficient, simple to deal with, straightforward and professional.
  • Take part in the worldwide excitement of buying Futures:
  • Follow our team as they taste and rate the wines leading up to the campaign.
  • - Create a wishlist and be one of the first to be offered the wines of the vintage.
  • - Be a part of the inside action—deal directly with us from the very moment the wines     are released to get allocations of the best wines.
  • - Secure wines of limited availability before other collectors.
  • - Ensure your collection has the world’s best wines, direct from the Châteaux with     perfect provenance.
  • Sotheby’s is a publicly traded company with complete transparency and unrivaled integrity and expertise— we will deliver your wine.

Why Buy Futures?

The advantages of buying Futures are:

  • To purchase wine at the first release price, when the margins made by wine merchants are smallest. In most vintages, although not always the case, the price of the wine increases and the margins made by wine merchants also increase once the wine is offered for sale in bottle.
  • To secure allocations of hard to find wines and varying formats (half bottles, magnums, double magnums, imperials and even larger) as soon as they are available for purchase.
  • To ensure perfect provenance by owning the wine from its first release.
  • To secure wine for a special birth year: as a gift for children, grandchildren, godchildren or for weddings and anniversaries.
  • To purchase the latest vintage of wines that you like to buy every year and where there is generally strong demand, such as Lafite, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion, Cheval Blanc, Pétrus, Lynch Bages, Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Pontet Canet and Haut Bailly.
  • When selling wines, ownership since initial release can bring higher prices.

Who Buys Futures?

Price, provenance, and access are the biggest benefits in buying Futures and this attracts all wine enthusiasts, from private collectors who intend to drink their wines, to collectors who invest in wine, as well as wine funds.

How Sotheby's Wine Selects The Futures That We Offer?

Each April, we taste the new vintage by visiting the Châteaux and négociants in Bordeaux for one to two weeks. Our Bordeaux tasting team includes colleagues from our international offices, in addition to:

Serena Sutcliffe, MW — International Head of Sotheby’s Wine — over 20 years at Sotheby’s

Jamie Ritchie — President of Sotheby’s Wine, Americas and Asia — over 20 years at Sotheby’s

Serena has enormous experience and has been tasting and assessing the quality of Bordeaux Futures for forty years. She is joined by her husband, David Peppercorn, MW who has been tasting Bordeaux Futures every year for over fifty years.

We write and publish our own tasting notes and ratings and make a short list of the wines that we are interested in buying. When the prices are released, we determine if the price matches the quality and whether we will take up our allocations or pass.

We only offer the wines that we believe are the best of the vintage and that we recommend buying.

How Do I Buy Different Bottle Sizes?

Most, but not all, Châteaux offer different bottle sizes. If you want specific bottle sizes, it is generally not a problem, but you should contact us before the Futures campaign starts, so we can be prepared to make special offers for you with specific bottle sizes.

The wines are priced by the négociants in regular 750 ml bottles, so there are additional charges for any other bottle size, which we include in the price for different sizes.

Paying For Futures?

Payment for the Futures is due immediately at the time of your order. Orders are not confirmed until Sotheby’s Wine has received payment.

Prices include shipping to Sotheby’s Wine warehouse, in New York, Hong Kong or any new location that we offer.

Prices do not include importation duties, taxes or domestic shipping.

Buyers will be invoiced in the currency of the country where they select delivery. It is not possible to choose delivery in one country and payment in a different currency. (e.g. if you select New York, you pay in US$, if you select Hong Kong, you pay in HK$).

Once the wines arrive at our warehouse, you will be invoiced for any additional charges that are applicable.

Delivery Of Wines

In the Spring, the third year after the vintage, wines are consolidated by the négociants in their warehouses in Bordeaux. Then the wines are shipped in temperature controlled containers, arriving in New York and Hong Kong between Spring and late Summer. Each buyer’s wines are consolidated at our warehouse and are generally available for delivery to the purchaser by September or October. However, this is not precise as each Châteaux bottles and distributes their wine according to their own schedule.

For example, buyers of the 2012 vintage should receive their wines in Fall 2015.


We can arrange storage on your behalf, upon delivery to our warehouse, according to our normal terms and conditions for storage.

What Are The Risks When Buying Futures?

  • If you buy from an unreliable wine merchant, you risk that in 2 years' time you will not receive your wines. This can happen when the wine merchants do not pay for the Futures they have sold or have not bought from well-financed, reliable négociants.
  • Price: this a market and prices can go down, as well as up.

If I Want To Invest In Wine, What Are The Drivers Of The Market?

In the last 15 years, we have seen a significant change in the price of wine and the underlying factors affecting the market, represented by two main points:

  • Demographic change—As significant wealth has been created by a much younger generation (e.g. technology and finance), the average age of the wine auction buyer has fallen from being approximately 60 years old to roughly 40 years old.
  • Geographic change—Demand for fine wine continues to grow in North America and the traditional wine buying countries in Europe, but now there is also significant demand throughout Asia, South America and Russia.
  • If you believe that more people (from more countries and from a wider age group) will want to buy great wines, then the price of fine wine will have to rise, as production of top class “collectible” wine is limited to one new vintage every year and most wineries are focused on increasing quality, thereby potentially reducing quantity.

How To Buy Futures

Buying Futures through Sotheby’s Wine is a simple, straightforward process:

1 Sign up to receive one of our Futures emails

2 When we receive allocations of the wines from our négociants, we will contact you by email with the prices based on your chosen delivery location

3 You reply by email with your order

4 We will confirm that the wines are available, send an invoice, and charge your credit card

5 At the end of our Futures campaign, we will send you a consolidated list of all the Futures that you have purchased that year

6 In the third year, after the vintage, we receive the wines in our warehouse and contact you for delivery

7 We will send you an invoice and take payment for any additional charges, such as duties, taxes, and/or onward shipping to your designated address or storage

8 We will deliver the wines to you or move them into your storage account

Signing Up For Our Futures Emails

Let us know which wines you are interested in buying, by signing up for our email lists:

This is our highest priority list and the first list we use when allocating the Futures that are limited in supply. This list gives you the opportunity to tell us automatically to buy specific wines up to a certain price. Clients who give us a Buy List receive their allocations ahead of the Wish List or General List clients.

This is our second highest priority list and allows clients to indicate the number of cases of each wine they are interested in buying, without making any commitment to buy. Once we have allocated wines to clients who submitted a Buy List, we send emails to clients who have provided us with their Wish List, indicating any quantities of wine that we can allocate them.

By signing up for this list, clients will receive our Futures offers for all wines that remain available after those have been offered first to the Buy List and then to the Wish List.

Contact us now with any questions that you have and sign up for our Buy List, Wish List or General Futures List at

New York +1 212 894 1990
London +1 44 20 7293 5050
Hong Kong +852 2886 7888

When Can I Drink My Futures?

Here is a general guide, though each wine from each vintage may vary.

Petits Châteaux
Crus Bourgeois
Second Wines from top Châteaux
Second to Fifth Growths
Super Seconds & First Growths
3–10 years
5–15 years
5–15 years
10–30 years
15–50 years

Time Line

Year of the Vintage


The canes from last year’s vines are removed by hand in mid-winter. The vines are dormant over the winter, preserving their energy for the growing season to come.


In May or June, the vines flower. In an ideal growing season, the sugars and flavor compounds in the grapes develop gradually over the course of a warm, dry summer.


Starting at the beginning of September, and often running through mid-October, the harvest takes place. Fine weather is crucial at this point, since any rain can dilute the vintage. Even after indifferent summer weather, vintages have been saved by a dry September and October.


Within minutes of arriving at the château, the grape stems are removed, the grapes are crushed and the juice and skins are placed in the fermentation tank or cask. Fermentation — the process in which the grapes’ sugar is converted into alcohol — takes about two weeks for red wines.

Year After the Vintage


After the wine has been in barrel for about 3 or 4 months, an army of wine professionals arrive from around the world to taste the new vintage. Our own Serena Sutcliffe and Jamie Ritchie are among them, and they taste hundreds of wines, noting their opinions and scores on the young wines.


Once fermentation is over, the young wine is carefully trans- ferred to small, new oak barrels, which will be its home for the next two years. Here the wine gradually softens and all of its components – acidity, tannins and flavor compounds — become a seamless whole.

Second Year After the Vintage


Shortly after the wines have been tasted, the château owners release the prices of the new vintage. Based on our tasting, we recommend wines for purchase to our clients, and send out email offers as soon as the price of each wine is released. This can happen daily from April through June, and on some days, even hourly.


Once all the wine prices have been released, email offers sent out and purchases confirmed, we email all of our buyers a complete list of their purchases.


Roughly two years after the harvest, blending takes place and the wines are removed from barrel and bottled. The bottles are labeled and placed in wooden cases. The wine then rests in bottle for six months to recover before being prepared for shipment.

Third Year After the Vintage



Once the wines have arrived, we contact the buyers to organize delivery or place into storage.