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The 300 Bordeaux wine merchants sell 70% of Bordeaux wine, a system of merchants and brokers allows the wines from the region to reach over 160 countries. Much of this wine is sold as 'Primeur' or futures, while the wines are still aging in barrels in the chateau cellars. They will not be bottled for at least another year to 18 months, and probably only delivered another few months after that.
For the wine trade, En Primeur Week is the highlight of the Bordeaux wine calendar. The annual event draws 5 – 6,000 wine professionals from all over the world to assess the new vintage. Bordeaux opens its doors every spring to the trade to discover the new vintage, this year, it's the turn of the 2019 vintage, which will be offered for tasting from 30th March to the 2nd April at the UGC (Union des Grand Crus) trade tastings.
These Business to Business tastings, organised by the Union des Grands Crus are by invitation only and, given the numbers involved, with designated time slots in the chateaux often grouped together by appellation. It's not all work and no play though; the famous Bordeaux chateau hospitality is in full swing for lunches and dinners in the properties and in town.
Other regions often sneak in too, Bordeaux wine consultants host the wine makers they work with from all over the world, making the most of this gathering of the great and the good to present their wines.
If you are not a member of the trade, don't feel left out. A little later in the year, from 18th to the 21June, the same Union des Grands Crus organizes events open to wine lovers visiting from all around the world. The Weekend des Grands Crus includes wine tastings from over 110 Grands Crus, members of the Union in the heart of the city of Bordeaux. The château owners present their wines themselves, with dinners and lunches organised in the chateaux with vineyard tours and even a golf tournament.
These dates are also the weekend of Bordeaux Fête de Vin. From Thursday 18th until Sunday 21st June this year the whole of the waterfront of Bordeaux will be transformed into an enormous wine festival. Over 1 200 winegrowers representing all appellations and styles of Bordeaux wine will share their wines.
With a tasting pass and your signed wine glass at the ready, taste from the wide range of wines accompanied by local food specialities and sign up for Master classes run by the appellations and the Bordeaux Wine school.
After the serious tasting in April, for four days in June, Bordeaux will be party central of wine, don't miss it.
By Wendy Narby