Monthly Archives: March 2013

En Primeur: A chance to bet on the next vintage

en primeurIn modern American wine culture, about 90% of all wine is consumed within 24 hours of purchase; most wine is made for immediate enjoyment.  We here at Parker Sanpei & Associates are just as likely as anyone else to swing by Trader Joe’s on our way home from work for a bottle of wine (like the lovely 2011 Floriana Gruner Veltliner – just $4.99!) to be had with dinner that night.

But if that was the only way we ever drank wine, we’d be missing out on some seriously good stuff, like a gorgeously vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon, mellowed out over time and aged to perfection.

This is the concept behind en primeur wine future sales.  According to “En primeur is a French wine trade term for wine which is sold as a ‘future,’ i.e. before it is bottled – usually the year after the en primeur offer.”  In other words, en primeur is a sneak peek at a vintage that hasn’t yet been released, as well as an opportunity to bet on that wine’s ability to age into something worth drinking.

en primeur explanation

Ageability is a key quality of fine wine, and thus, en primeur sales happen only in wine regions where the finest wines are made.  The homeland of en primeur sales, Bordeaux, looks forward to its en primeur tastings in early April, while the Napa Valley held its en primeur tastings in late February.  Paso Robles’ first coordinated en primeur tasting will take place during the 2013 CABs of Distinction event, hosted by the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective.  This media- and trade-only barrel tasting of the 2012 vintage will be held Friday, April 26, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Reservations are required. For additional information, or to secure your place on the list, please email

The stock market, horses, and blackjack may give you a thrill, but nothing will give you as much pleasure as a winning vintage of Cabernet alongside a decadent meal.  If you’re the betting type, this just might be your game.

Still confused?  We’ll let our friends from explain further.

“Why Buy En Primeur and How To Do It”

Every year, there are numerous en primeur offers from wine merchants, most notably from Bordeaux. However, for many consumers, the en primeur merry-go-round can be a confusing spectacle. So here’s a quick Q&A explaining what it is and how it works.

En primeur is a French wine trade term for wine which is sold as a ‘future’, i.e. before it is bottled – usually the year after the en primeur offer. The most important annual offer comes from Bordeaux.

  • How does the system work?Every spring after the vintage, the great cru classé properties of Bordeaux produce young barrel samples from the previous year’s harvest. These are then tasted and assessed by members of the international wine trade in Bordeaux. The châteaux then release for sale a ‘tranche’ or proportion of their total production at an opening price. This is sold in strict allocation to wine brokers in Bordeaux, known as négociants. The négociants then sell the en primeur offers.
  • Why does it work this way?Mainly because it always has. Moreover, by selling to négociants, the châteaux effectively spread the risk of bad vintages, which they might otherwise be unable to sell. En primeur sales also provide the châteaux with a ready source of cash, which they would otherwise not recoup until the wine was bottled and sold.As the system stands, the négociants are more or less obliged to buy whatever the châteaux sell. If the négociants don’t buy what they are offered (in a bad year), they risk forfeiting their allocation for next year (which may be a great year). However, the system only works effectively in periods where strong world demand for the great wines of Bordeaux outstrips supply, as is currently the case.
  • Is only cru classé Bordeaux sold en primeur?No. Winemakers whose wines are not classified growths, but whose quality and price justifies a futures allocation, also offer wines in this way. In some cases this is the only way to obtain limited-production wines on release.
  • Is it only Bordeaux that sells its wines as en primeur?No, you will find en primeur offers from other wine regions around the world, including Burgundy, the Rhône Valley, Italy, California and Australia.
  • How much time do you have to make your mind up?Don’t delay too long, you may miss the boat.
  • When do you pay?Consumers pay the opening price as soon as the offer is made by your merchant.
  • When do you get the wine?Usually in spring or summer two years after the offer. Then, once you have paid the additional shipping costs and duty, you can take delivery of your precious cargo. An estimate of these costs is usually given to you when you buy your wine.
  • How easy is to get what you want?It depends on what you want to buy. Because demand is so strong for the most sought-after wines, it helps if you are a long-standing customer of a wine merchant that is offering wines en primeur. If you’re not you may have to go to the back of what could be a very long queue. However, you will have less of a problem with those wines which are more available and less expensive. In order to get some great wines, customers may have to take lesser wines, too, as part of their order.
  • Complicated, isn’t it?Yes, but there seems to be little sign of change in the offing, and the system does work.

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Easter Brunch Ideas

Spring has sprung on California’s picturesque Central Coast, and we here at Parker Sanpei & Associates are feeling the itch to cook with all the gorgeous greens, asparagus, and herbs sprouting.  Thankfully, Easter is just around the corner!  Here are a few of our favorite Easter Brunch recipes to inspire your table.

Photo by Tim ThumbSpring Shiso Cocktail | Created by Mixologist Jason Walsh

Inspired by the Spring season, this cocktail has a very clean taste. The base is gin with the distinct flavor of Shiso paired with the coolness of cucumber and fresh lemon juice.  If you’re unable to find shiso, feel free to substitute with fresh mint.

Photo by Roland BelloGlazed Ham With Pineapple Mustard Sauce

Gourmet | April 2007

Remember those baked hams gussied up with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries? There’s a reason they became so popular in the ’50s — pineapple contributes sweetness and a little acid to salty ham. But here, with pineapple juice concentrated into a syrup and combined with thyme and Dijon mustard, the effect is homey, more subtle, and less overtly sweet.

Photo by David Loftus

Asparagus Custard Tart

Gourmet | March 2005

Who doesn’t love eggs, cheese, and seasonal veggies baked into a tender, flaky crust?  Try adding a handful of extra Gruyere or a couple of sliced leeks to boost the delicate flavors in this pretty dish.

Coconut cakeCoconut Layer Cake

Cook’s Illustrated Magazine | March 2001

You may think you’ve had the ultimate coconut cake, but unless it was this recipe, we would have to argue that you’re wrong.  The flavor of coconut permeates everything as a result of including coconut extract, cream of coconut, and sweetened shredded coconut in the cake and even in the buttercream frosting.  Dieters beware.

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Paso Robles’ New Cabernet & Bordeaux Crew

Parker Sanpei & Associates are unabashed lovers of all things Bordeaux.  So imagine our delight to discover that a new group of top wineries has formed in Paso Robles to celebrate the high caliber Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietal-wines made here.

PRCC Color (2)

The Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective (PRCC), a grass-roots collaboration of Paso Robles appellation wineries who produce superior quality, age-worthy Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals, will show their finest selections to consumers, trade and media worldwide during the inaugural CABs of Distinction events April 26-27, 2013. The slate of events includes winemaker dinners and a Saturday afternoon gala at the prestigious Windfall Farms, an elegant setting for panoramic views, and a seductive backdrop for Cabernet and Bordeaux aficionados.

Created with the belief that Bordeaux varieties grown in the Paso Robles appellation and the subsequent quality of the wines produced is under-represented in the marketplace and across the wine industry, the PRCC seeks to improve awareness among consumers and retailers worldwide regarding the distinctive attributes of Paso Robles Cabernet as well as other Bordeaux varietals. Current members include: ADELAIDA Cellars, B&E Vineyard, Chateau Margene, DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Eberle Winery, HammerSky Vineyards, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jada Vineyard, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, L’Aventure, Parrish Family Vineyards, Record Family Wines, Robert Hall Winery, Sextant Wines, Venteux Vineyards and Vina Robles.

The 2013 CABs of Distinction events will consist of:

  • En Primeur – a media and trade-only barrel tasting of the 2012 vintage held Friday, April 26, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at The Park Ballroom in downtown Paso Robles
  • Winemaker dinners hosted in key Paso Robles restaurants Friday, April 26, 7:00 p.m. with a list of participating restaurants to include: Thomas Hill Organics, Paso Terra, Il Cortile, Bistro Laurent and McPhee’s
  • A media- and trade-only panel discussion and tasting wherein winemakers and winery principals will be on hand to showcase their very best wines and share lunch with the winemakers at Windfall Farms from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 2013
  • CABs of Distinction grand tasting, a consumer-focused event held at Windfall Farms on Saturday, April 27, 2013 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. wherein winemakers and winery principals will be on hand to showcase their very best wines to the anticipated 600 guests. Music and artisanal food purveyors will help set the stage for a spectacular event. Tickets are $95 or $30 for designated drivers, and can be purchased online at

Reservations for media- and trade-only events are required and can be secured at

PRCC vintners and proprietors recently got together at Windfall Farms to put this video together to express their thoughts on Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals in Paso Robles.

The PRCC is non-profit organization governed and directed by representatives of the member wineries. Open to wineries that produce Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals, the PRCC hopes to shape the future of the Paso Robles appellation and showcase the superior quality of wines produced. Member wineries have the opportunity to work with and learn from other members. The organization is designed to create a network of knowledgeable and experienced industry professionals to assist each other from viticulture to production, marketing and finally, sales.

Early corporate sponsors of the PRCC include: Smurfit Kappa Orange County, Tasting Panel Magazine, Parker Sanpei, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Tasting Room with Tom Leykis, Bruni Glass, GSO, Enartis Vinquiry, Cellotape / Landmark Labels, Windfall Farms, The Blueprinter, Martinez Farming Labor, KRUSH Radio, Earley & Earley, The Park Ballroom, FIJI Water, Travel Paso Robles Alliance, Portocork, Chill N Go, Farm Credit West, LEROI Barrels, among others.

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