The wine market has been challenged like any other following the widespread disruption caused by Covid-19 but depending on your outlook there remains plenty to be optimistic about.

When trade started to slow down the obvious knee-jerk reaction for sellers was to lower their asking prices to stimulate trade.  This has softened prices across the board and we have watched Bordeaux’s share of trade slip to record lows in recent weeks.

The chart above shows how sellers have reduced their asking prices in order to stimulate sales.  There is a defined increase in the level of discount relative to market price since lockdown took effect in March.  Justin Gibb, co-founder of Liv-ex was quoted last month stating “It was a market struggling to go anywhere and feeling a bit tense” but went on to add “Now we’re in April and the market’s reasonably steady.”

While it may be true that trying to offload premium Bordeaux at a good price is tricky at present, wine is a long term market that will no doubt bounce back. The other side of that coin is the opportunity that lower prices can offer to buyers, those with a long term view and confidence in the market could take advantage of current prices to strengthen their portfolio.


Those able to weather the storm may choose to hold or even capitalize on buying opportunities. But for most, keeping turnover ticking over will require lower prices and the opportunity to reinvest in stock at the new level.



The wine market is constantly evolving and many regions that offer a similar quality of wine to premium Bordeaux but at a lower price point have been thriving.  Regions such as Napa Valley, Tuscany, Piedmont and Rhone have benefited from this and will now be familiar to most of active wine investors.  We are beginning to see the price gap between these regions and Bordeaux narrow, as buyers and sellers acknowledge the opportunities that can be found elsewhere.

This was confirmed at the end of the first quarter when Liv-ex released details of best price performers.  Half of the wines on the list were Italian, three were from Rhone and one each from Burgundy and Spain.  Bordeaux did not make the top ten list but remains and integral part of the market with the largest share of trade, albeit at record lows for the region.

Italian wines in particular have continued to take big strides after securing the top spot in Q1.  Recently Italian wines hit another record high in trade by value, securing 27.7% of trade, up from 19.5% the previous week.  Californian wines have also held steady on the secondary market, particularly at auction where top flight Napa, including Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate, has remained in demand commanding respectable prices.


The market for Bordeaux remains solid, accounting for 24% of both the dollar amount and bottle count sold. Champagne, California, Rhone and Italy combined for 18% of revenue and the bulk of the rest of sales.

Acker, Wine Auction House


Although regular updates on the price movements of fine wine and the market are essential to keep in touch with the here and now, it’s important keep hold of the fact that fine wine has traditionally rewarded patience.  Five years should be the minimum outlook to see satisfactory returns, and over this time span it’s hard to find examples of the market under-performing.

In a similar fashion to traditional financial markets, the type of trading conditions we are currently experiencing should be of interest to long term buyers, and the fact that the Liv-ex 100 has returned 205% over the past fifteen years should also offer some reassurance of the wine market’s ability to weather the storm.

By Enzo Giannotta

Will Covid-19 simply accelerate the inevitable?

Our previous article looked at the wine investment market’s initial reaction to the Covid-19 outbreak, and there was plenty to be optimistic about. With many wine merchants reporting a sharp uptick in sales since the Coronavirus lockdown, has this demand been echoed in the fine wine investment market?

Two weeks ago we were beginning to come to terms with being locked down, the equities markets had been in turmoil and workers across the UK were getting used to working remotely, or not at all in some cases. Despite this the wine market had shown signs of stability with the Liv-ex 50 only showing a fraction of the losses seen in equities and some regions continuing to increase their share of trade, of course at Bordeaux and Burgundy’s expense.

By the end of March Bordeaux’s share of trade had slipped to a record low and with Burgundy also losing ground, the ongoing power shift continued leaning toward other regions. The USA made great strides and helped to double the Rest of the World’s share of trade from 5% last year to 10% in 2020, hitting a new record high.

Last Friday Liv-ex reported that their benchmark index, the Liv-ex 100, had declined by 1.06% during March, but against a backdrop of global financial turmoil this could almost be seen as a victory. The broader Liv-ex 1000 index also fell last month, shedding 1.35% despite Italy trying its hardest to prop performance up. The index has struggled since Trump introduced tougher import tariffs in October 2019.


this may well represent a good opportunity to strengthen your position before things starts to advance again.


The Italy 100 index has grown by almost 4% over the last twelve months and continues to be an area of focus for drinkers and investors alike. Recent releases from Tuscany and Piedmont have proved popular with merchants and have helped to boost results. Following a great start to the year Champagne remains in our buy zone. Prices started to stagnate by the beginning of April due to a build up of stock on the market but based on the region’s performance to date, this may well represent a good opportunity to strengthen your position before things starts to advance again.

It’s definitely not all doom and gloom, during the first week of April the value of fine wine available on the Liv-ex exchange exceeded £50million for the first time in its history. This is a reflection of the wine trade adapting to overcome the closing of bars and restaurants, and following an initial drop in bidding activity there is evidence of buyers returning to the market now prices have softened.


China is ready for business and wants the world’s greatest wines as much as ever

Acker Chairman, John Kapon


The auction scene has been much more positive. Acker’s first Hong Kong online sale since the virus took hold saw strong demand with Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC) and Japanese whiskies rising to the top. Driven by Chinese buyers, the sale saw a magnum of DRC Romanee-Conti set a new world record selling for USD$57,231. Acker Chairman, John Kapon commented “it was very reassuring to see strong demand across the board in this intimate sale. The three top buyers of the sale were from three different cities in mainland China, which shows that China is ready for business and wants the world’s greatest wines as much as ever.”

Meanwhile their latest online sale in New York took place on 3rd and 4th April. Attracting buyers from around the world, it delivered some very good results with a total of 119 new world records set. The top ten was again dominated by Burgundy. A jeroboam of 1990 Dujac Clos de la Roche came out on top setting a new world record at USD$43,400, followed by great results for Petrus, Leroy, Meo-Camuzet and Rousseau. Following the sale Kapon acknowledged the global challenges we face adding “it is wonderful to see that demand for fine and rare wine remains healthy, and that people remain engaged. Wine remains something that will always bring people together even if physically apart”


Seeing this overall level of consistency within the fine wine auction market is encouraging

Cult & Boutique Managing Director, Enzo Giannotta


The fine wine market revolves around supply and demand, so it’s great to see the consumption end of the market thriving. We feel that Bordeaux’s reduced trade share can only benefit the market as a whole. As the back bone of the market it should always take the lion’s share, and will no doubt remain as the blue chip element. The ground it has lost will allow Italy, USA, Champagne and Rhone to flourish as the market further diversifies, and ideally the spread between prices should also continue to contract.

Cult & Boutique’s Managing Director, Enzo Giannotta added “seeing this overall level of consistency within the fine wine auction market is encouraging. Even though results vary for individual products due to the pure volume of lots sold over two days, it offers a viable exit strategy and a very rewarding one for those with the most patience.”

By Spencer Leat

With the first quarter of 2020 behind us, we take a closer look at our Q1 best seller and its price performance within the market.


Sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France have been steadily gathering momentum for a number of years. This progress was highlighted at the end of 2019 when Liv-ex announced that three Champagnes had made the top ten performers of the year. One of those three wines, Salon’s Le Mesnil 2002, has remained popular with our customers to become our best seller of the quarter.


Just 37 vintages were produced in the 20th century, a unique phenomenon in the world of wine



Salon Le Mesnil is a sparkling white wine made from 100% Chardonnay grown in the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger vineyards. The first commercial vintage was produced in 1921 but a vintage is only declared when the quality is deemed to meet strict standards. This results in an average of around three vintages being released per decade, production is small at approximately 60,000 bottles per vintage which also helps add to the excitement each time a new release enters the market.

Salon has been held in high regard since its arrival, in the Roaring Twenties it was the house champagne at Maxim’s and has been enjoyed by high society ever since. Today Salon is globally recognised as one of the top Blanc de Blancs and although the house has changed hands several times since Eugene-Aime Salon’s passing in 1943, the quality has remained intact solidifying its place as one of the most desirable and expensive Champagnes on the market.

Released into the market in 2014, the 2002 joined a succession of well received vintages with critical acclaim. Antonio Galloni described it as “utterly mesmerizing”, Julia Harding MW found “definition, clarity and finesse” while The Wine Advocate’s William Kelley recently proclaimed the release “full-bodied, broad and powerful”.


Salon 2002 is a great romantic, but also armed for battle! Its strength and audacity give it the balance of a classical dancer



Market data from Liv-ex shows that price performance has also been good, over the last twelve months the market value of the 2002 has grown by 12.5%. Spanning back over two years the growth figure more than doubles to 30%, and taking a five year view of past performance unveils an impressive 108% gain.

The highly anticipated 2008 vintage was released late last year, but with a twist. The latest vintage was to be released in magnum format only and limited to just 8,000 bottles in total. Sold as the ‘2008 Salon Limited Edition Oenotheque Case’, the handcrafted collector’s case contains one magnum of the 2008 and two regular bottles of the 2004, 2006 and 2007 vintages.


It is quite simply one of the most magnificent Champagnes I have ever tasted.

Antonio Galloni

It’s yet to be seen how prices will react to the huge disruption to global business and financial markets that we are seeing but signs are looking good so far. The wine market has been in a state of flux for some time now with Champagne emerging as a beacon of success, alongside Italian and Californian wines. If history has taught us anything about the wine market it’s that wine usually thrives when traditional markets struggle. Additionally, once this mess stabilises there will no doubt be swathes of celebrations around the world which will require lubrication – and which drink do we choose to celebrate?

By Spencer Leat


Wine has a proven track record of stability during some of harshest financial storms


This is a concerning time for everyone but investors have had a very bumpy ride via the global equities markets and its knock-on effects. Following Boris Johnson’s escalation of social distancing and isolation measures, many are wondering where to look for stability among all the uncertainty.

Wine has a proven track record of stability during some of harshest financial storms we have weathered to date, but how has the wine market reacted to the Coronavirus outbreak?


With a low correlation to equity markets, fine wine moves at a glacial pace and is generally influenced by two long term economic fundamentals – namely supply and demand.

Liv-ex, March 2020


The modern fine wine market has come a long way since the days of deals being brokered over the telephone from faxed stock lists. The introduction of online auctions, exchanges and logistics have helped to build an environment where trade can be conducted remotely. Wine can easily be bought, sold, viewed, valued and delivered online with the help of trade partners in the supply and logistics chains.

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The Liv-ex Exchange remains open for trade reporting today that their Fine Wine 50 index (which tracks the price movements of the last ten bottled vintages of the Bordeaux First Growth wines) had retreated just 3.45% year-to-date, holding relatively firm in comparison to the free fall witnessed on the FTSE 100 & 250 and around the world due to panic selling.

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Zachy’s auction house in the US also confirmed to us today that they are open for business, giving access to another key sector of the wine market. Following from last year’s successes which saw them become the most active fine wine auctioneer generating $121 million worth of sales, Zachy’s form part of a global fine wine auction market which grew by 9% in 2019 from $479 million to $521 million.

We’ll continue to monitor the market as the situation develops and if you’re yet to take a serious look at the market yourself, now may prove to be a good time to keep tabs.

By Spencer Leat

One of the main draws for many over the years has been the low correlation to equity markets.


The spread of Covid-19 is gripping the World, Europe has now become the epicentre, markets have been reeling, casualties are building up.  Although the priority will always be one’s health and the health of our loved ones, the financial implications of this pandemic are very real.

We have been introducing clients into the fine wine investment market for well over a decade and one of the main draws for many over the years has been the low correlation to equity markets. The chart below is a great example of just how fine wine can offer stability to any investment portfolio; it’s also why we are seeing a large amount of interest as investors look for a safe haven.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management

The main reason for this low correlation is the supply and demand nature of fine wine. Even before the effects of Covid-19 started to hit the financial markets wine had been ambling due to tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. Yet no signs of panic selling have been evident and that trend has continued as we’ve moved into uncharted territory. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite with seasoned investors looking to strengthen their positions.


It’s widely acknowledged that diversification is vital in any investment portfolio


Our ‘4 portfolio’ assemblage takes into account buyers’ tastes, appetite to risk, desired hold terms and budget levels, allowing new speculators to enter the market with confidence knowing the products have been selected around specific requirements. This offer was put on hold last week due to a spike in interest from our existing client base, so it’s my pleasure to announce that we are now asking for anyone who has an interest to submit details via our website here.

These are unprecedented times, yet if we look back at the historical performance of fine wine, when markets are in free fall the results have been strong. In 2011 with the backing of the Chinese government the most successful wine fund in history was launched. Aiming to yield 15% over five years, The Dinghong fund raised closer to 125% across the 5-year period. It’s widely acknowledged that diversification is vital in any investment portfolio and we see fine wine playing an important role for many in the years ahead.


By Enzo Giannotta

On this episode, we catch up with our in-house correspondent Jonathan Whittley to learn more about his background and hear about his wine travels to France, Spain and beyond.

On this episode, we catch up with our in-house correspondent Jonathan Whittley to learn more about his background and hear about his wine travels to France, Spain and beyond.

Full transcript of the episode is below, this was generated by voice recognition software so expect a few errors here and there.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (00:00):
Hi there. Welcome to the Colton boutique show. My name is Daniel Patson international sales director. Uh, today we are joined by a familiar face to many of our clients, uh, who are aware from our newsletters of uh, Mr. Jonathan Whitley. For those who are unaware, this is an opportunity to meet Jonathan for the first time. Um, he’s nicknamed a roving reporter as he likes to travel. I think that’s fair to say. Um, Jonathan, thank you for joining us today and welcome to the show.

Jonathan Whittley (00:31):
Great pleasure. How have you been? I’ve been fine. Thank you very much. Um, Nass week I was, uh, at a, it’s a tasting for big Indies at the RAF [inaudible] you just go off of too good stone.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (00:45):
Yes. I’m what Vincent looked at 2018 vintage

Jonathan Whittley (00:49):
2018. See right across it was, it was Bouchard William fav. Oh, right, right across. I mean, you can’t get much better than that William fav based up in shabbily Bouchard based in bone. Um, and right across it was a horizontal tasting right across the right across the Oh, Oh, Oh, D GAM. Yes. [inaudible]

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (01:11):
yes, yes. And obviously need being one of the hottest regions for wine across the globe. Um, aside from your travels to burgundy, what, where else you’ve been traveling in the last, say 12 to 18 months?

Jonathan Whittley (01:25):
In the last 12, 15 months, I’ve been in Spain. Um, last last a year, uh, in June, July of last year, I decided I was, happened to be on a, on a sunlit square in caddies. And across the, across the way, there was a, there was a building look like a tourist office turned out to be a language school. I picked up a leaflet. I
th my Spanish, I S I’m a fluent French speaker, but my Spanish isn’t quite up to that standard. Um, and I picked up this leaflet and thought, yeah, maybe one day I’ll do it. Went home. Um, and a couple of days, 10 days later I was leafing through a pilot, found this booklet and thought I’ll do this. So I emailed and I went out to Cadiz for two weeks, um, and uh, and, and took part in this Spanish course, um, for, uh, for adults. And, um, I was, I was actually, there were, there were a half a dozen of us, uh, in the classroom and five of them, five of them were German plus me.

Jonathan Whittley (02:29):
Oh, Sarah. I have a little, little bit on the Spanish has to be said. It was more proficient. Uh, so a bit of an uphill struggle, but we got there in the end. Good. And, uh, how, how is your Spanish now? Uh, not, but well I had to say I need, I need more. I need more practice. Um, where I to have, where I too have learned Spanish for as long as my, I’ve learned, I’ve been learning French. Um, that would be my, my would be, we’d be on the same level, but um, as you, as I’ve just explained it, it’s not, um, but some little by little we get there. Yes. My Italian is not bad, however.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (03:09):
Okay. Okay. So if he was to rank your, uh, expertise in languages, first would be French, second Italian, third, third English. Oh, yes, yes, yes.

Jonathan Whittley (03:27):
I was practically born with French, but some people think I am French. I mean when I speak to French people because by accident is pretty good. Uh, but, but I was lucky enough to be taken by my parents, uh, to France on holiday when I was sort of half. So four and a half, three and a half. Very young. Put the car on. Yes. The car went onto the plane. We put the car on the plane at lid and it came off at the two K my father drove down from the two K two to two, uh, the French Riviera. Wow.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (03:57):
I’m with your studying of the French language and French heritage. How long was you studying? Um, I suppose the language or France as a whole.

Jonathan Whittley (04:06):
I was, I was lucky. I, I started learning French formerly, um, when I was seven. And then I went, I did it. I went on to do it in secondary school. I did, uh, I did, uh, a degree in it, which, which, which gave me a year abroad in Dijon. Oh, lovely. Nice applicant. And uh, um, but the trouble was weekends. I was confined to the town. I didn’t get out of town very much. So I didn’t get down into the, into these, the wine villages. Uh, I remembered that about, um, 14 years ago. Um, I w I, I went to the walk from fixer to Sultani, uh, North to South through this lovely, I mean, you visualize, I can’t see one, but I’m visualizing that wonderful map that Boucha have been yard, um, going from, uh, uh, East to West, well West to East [inaudible] on the left, Dijon on the right. And, and it goes through the wonderful PAF sale. Um, burgundy of course, has just been the person of Bergen had recently been given a UNESCO world heritage site, um, title and which they campaigned for, for the last, uh, uh, for several years. And I think it was, it was granted to them finally in, uh, uh, just a few years ago now. Yes. Um, it’s now a world heritage site, so, so the cartoon, it’s, it’s there for good. Oh, brilliant. Brilliant. As a, as a lots of UNESCO sites in France say lucky. Yes.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (05:41):
Osby knows. Well, Jonathan, as well as appreciates and, uh, you know, French culture in your travels, you also enjoy your wine tastings. You also enjoy eating well. If we was to come over to your home of your salon, a, a party, so to speak, what, what was your food and wine pairings B, what are some of your
personal favorites that you feel others should try if they haven’t tried already

Jonathan Whittley (06:06):
these days? Um, the set rules that usually you shouldn’t pair, um, uh, fish with red wine or meat with white wine goes to the window. It all depends on orange. Uh, a white one with cheese, they go out of the window or you can have some very, uh, salty white wine, which goes perfectly with the blue cheese. Um, um, some dry white wine, maybe a while. Um, I mean, I, uh, underwire, I have a cigarette [inaudible] go nicely with a, with a very, with a very salty cheese. Um, and likewise, um, uh, you could have, uh, a fairly meaty fish like sea hake that you could put with, with, with red, with no difficulty.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (07:00):
Yes. And would you say like a more licensed style or read like a, like a Beaujolais, maybe it was that two lights or you could put a budget. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Now, speaking of MC, you know, peculiar pairings like at red wine and

Jonathan Whittley (07:18):
not yet, well, we cannot do that for the podcast. I’ll sex rates to Jonathan. We look around your own tobacco,

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (07:28):
that’s for sure. However, your, your robbers traditional and your TACE ans you know, among your years of something, some, you know, some very good wines and very bad wines for you, for the positive reasons. What would you say has been the biggest eye-opener in terms of a wine or a region or a country?

Jonathan Whittley (07:45):
Well, I’m, I’m, this is not the last time I’m going to come back to burgundy in this, in this chat. Um, I went, um, Oh, must’ve been 20 years ago now. I was working for a hotel marketing company and, and as a, as a, as a private contractor and they w we had a campaign in Paris at, uh, the [inaudible], uh, under contract on town, which is right now, right up to the opera. You know, polygamy. Yes. Right in the center of Paris. And, um, one evening at this hotel, there was a tasting, um, by four, she up to Guam. Okay. Um, and I tasted, I tasted a told shaman what a very, very famous burgundy whites for the very first time. And it blew my socks off. I mean, I, I write, I writes in, in, in, in, in, in, in, uh, my tasting notes for, for [inaudible].

Jonathan Whittley (08:43):
I just, I just wrote, blow your socks off. But this, but this particular, I can’t remember the, it was probably, it would have been if it was 1989, I think it would be 1989. You’d probably bet some 87
vintage would’ve been, uh, uh, 87. Awesome, Sean. Man, it was, it was phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. And I vowed, because I mean, as you will know, of course I’m, Charmaine is not, not, uh, it doesn’t come to a penny. I vote, uh, for my 50th birthday, I will treat myself, uh, to a bottle because [inaudible] ran a hundred palliate bottle. Um, and, um, it hasn’t happened. I, I, I decided something got in the way. I didn’t, but one of these, one of these decades, I’m going to treat myself and just enjoy it. The bucket list one? Yes. It’s a revisit. Once again. There’s also, I’ll tell you, this ties nicely in with, um, with, uh, the, the, the wine tasting.

Jonathan Whittley (09:44):
There’s also a restaurant, uh, very, very close to, uh, the cuttle vineyards. Okay. Lou shout man. Yes. And uh, it’s, it’s a huge, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, um, a Japanese French fusion restaurant. I think the chef is French and his wife had Japanese. Oh wow. And so there is Oriental influence, particularly white wine. Yes. So my, my, my, one of my emissions, not, not, which I soon achieve given in the grand scheme of things is to go to this restaurant and each, they’re looking out over vineyards with a bottle of cultural Shamban. There you go. What could be better?

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (10:26):
Heaven, heaven in the restaurant. Speaking of, I’m going slightly off topic, I suppose. Speaking of, again, going back to the wine pairings and you know, food pairings, et cetera. And you mentioned about Southeast Asian and France, there was an uncommon misconception, may be a common misconception, if you can call to that. That’s if you’re going South, Southeast Asian food, that there is no wines pair with it. However, there are people that would argue if you are going to pair Southeast Asian food, you should have it with reasonings. Why would you stand on that

Jonathan Whittley (11:02):
reasoning? Yeah, off dry off dry reasonings is a good, is it that that’s, uh, I would say that it’s a good pairing with Southeast Asian food. Yes. Um, otherwise the old lot of whole of, um, whole lots of French Alsace wines, um, French wine from the Alsace. Oh, you’ve got your peanut peanut CRE. You have, uh, I mean, [inaudible] is the classic example. Um, that would go and I tell you what else is what, what else is dice with, um, with um, uh, with Asian food? Yes. Um, I’m just trying to think off the top of my head. Um, and it’s, I can see the bottle, sorry. It’ll come back, it’ll come back. Um, but, but certainly certainly grow stronger. Um, Toronto. Yeah. Toronto, Argentina. Yes, we’re going right to the other side of the world. We are, um, amazing. But, but a and Argentinian, this is a, this is a wine, this is a wine that I came across for the first time on.

Jonathan Whittley (12:11):
It was in a, from a newspaper article. I brought it in. Safeways. There you go. It has not been around for a long time. Can I buy you a platter? Silver, silver, silver, silver horse have Kobota plateau talking to this Argentinian and I’d never know what’s this Toronto and he’s really, it is an unusual one. Yes. It’s, it’s, um, from, from, uh, the heart of entre Tina, but great with, uh, an and a wonderful pairing with, with, with, with Asian food. Wow. I must try that. I’ve never tried it. So Ron says with Southeast Asian food, so definitely somebody, I won’t be trying this one. I’ll tell you a restaurant account. Okay. Thank you. But I like it. You can give me a refund as well. Right now. He was recently, um, want to say recently, I would imagine the last couple of years ago within Lebanon. Yes, that’s right. And a lot of people who make consume wine would probably assume Chateau Musar within the Bekaa Valley is the only wines come from Lebanon?

Jonathan Whittley (13:14):
Not a bit, not a bit for are there used to be about two or three. Uh, Chateau Musar was one. Uh, CASARA is another, um, uh, which is in the Bekaa Valley, um, as, as is bizarre. Um, but now there are that, they would, there were only two or three that people were recommend to drink. There are 40, a good 40 plus wineries in the Lebanon all day. At the moment. Yes. 44 zero. Um, Messiah is, uh, eh, it may double this AYA not to be confused with really soft stuff. Yes. But, um, um, Messiah, um, every time she’s another one. Um, these are, these are, these are mostly reds. Um, there is, there is, uh, CASARA to a very nice, uh, blown to belong. Okay. Um, but, but Tim’s by, by all means, if you, if you’re, if you’re looking at a wine list, don’t overlook the Lebanon.

Jonathan Whittley (14:20):
Uh, um, what, what, what I, I won’t name the restaurant, but what, but what annoys me is that there is a, there are a couple of, uh, uh, Lebanese restaurants. I know one is in Kingston and they do not have a Lebanese wine as their house wine and they don’t want to shoot my shit. I mean, I, I go to the IC every time I go there. Uh, they’ve got French wines as their house wine. Uh, but they, they, they have some, they have some, maybe it’s, maybe it’s a markup issue. Um, they have, they have a, uh, a Lebanese wine, but it a very [inaudible] markup. Yes. What they’re producing. They’re producing wonderful Lebanese food in an atmosphere that, you know, you could almost see a belly dancer come through the door. [inaudible] there isn’t one, but you could imagine wishful thinking of course. But they, they don’t, uh, there’s, there’s no liberties one house, but it should happen.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (15:20):
It should, I agree. Because a lot of Lebanese wine, especially when I go out with whether they’re clients or whipping out to a few places ourselves and we’ve gotten some Lebanese restaurants, what I do store Lebanese house wines, they’re really good. Now you don’t, you don’t need to spend 30, 40 pounds on a bottle. Absolutely don’t expend your 20, 25%.

Jonathan Whittley (15:41):
Of course the, the great, the, the, the greater company meant to, to Lebanese Missy. I was, let me think about this half an hour ago cause I was talking, I was talking to a lady as we speak. Um, I was talking to a lady half an hour ago who spends most of her life in that she’s English, but she married a Lebanese and spends most of her life if she has a flat Beirut and lives there. I spread it out. I was talking to only half an hour ago and we were, and a friend of ours had a little tiny bottle of Caseras. This is, this is Eric from co shatter Cosara get it. K S a R a K because Sarah is a, um, in a, in a bit of a bottle. But that’s the, that’s the, um, that’s the, uh, classic accompaniment to Lebanese Missy and, but if you’re not going to drink wine, of course, yes, of course, of course. But, but, but, but Eric of course is made from buying by the Lebanese wineries.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (16:34):
Right. Well, so interest in facts though, for sure. Now, obviously I’m, of all the events you’ve attended and there’ve been a few, so I know I’ve asked you to dig in deep to remember here and these events that you’ve attended on our behalf. What has been the most enjoyable?

Jonathan Whittley (16:53):
I think there’s a, I think there’s a cross a toss up here. Um, we, um, w I lucky enough, uh, once a year, they’re all, they’re both annual events. I’m lucky, lucky enough, once a year to go to the, um, Phil’s portfolio tasting, um, which is normally Hills in, in February, uh, in, uh, in a, in a, um, in a building overlooking the tech conference center overlooking the Thames. And there are the wines from all over the world. I, we have, we have, um, uh, new Zealand’s with those America jr pretty jovial chap runs. It, runs a winery in, in, in, in, in, in California who might see from year to year and we just exchange pleasantries. Um, there is, um, then we come back to, let me come back to burgundy on the, on the other side of the room. I did actually spend too much time with the burgundies, uh, on, on that occasion because I’ve already been to the tasting that I went to this last week.

Jonathan Whittley (18:00):
Um, and it’s a good opportunity to, to, um, to sample wines from, uh, of, of, of, of differing, of differing quality and character, uh, and, and fame friends from, from different areas in the world. Um, I T I, I was put a, um, a glass of a glass of port, uh, uh, last time we went there, the very end of the afternoon, uh, by, um, by, uh, Paul Symington, um, who, um, poured me a glass of, uh, is a very ancient port, which I enjoyed as a, as a, as a, as a kind of finale to the occasion. The other one you asked me while I was torn between the two. Yes. The other one is a, it’s a, it’s an event which is really, uh, a bit of a joke called a Bible live, which takes place in Olympia at Olympian in early July. And it’s, um, for it mainly for the entree. It’s not, we’re not, we’re not, I mean, Colton boutique don’t really have much interest there. Um, uh, although there is, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s more cocktails and, and, and bars and, uh, things to put in, in exotic, exotic [inaudible].

Jonathan Whittley (19:23):
Although there is there that two things, two exceptions I’d like to see. Um, one is that there’s a small wind section and that, but the other is that they have some very, uh, interesting, um, uh, talks and tastings for on, on online. Uh, I attended one a couple of years ago, uh, on Sydney, on English, one given by the, uh, one of the, one of the important people in, uh, the agricultural college, uh, in, in pumpkin and which is in [inaudible], which is in Sussex. And of course, they now run, uh, a, an analogy course, uh, because of course, I mean Ditchling where they’re based is right in the middle of the English [inaudible] growing country. So they’re, they’re, they’re, they’re, they’re very little paste are brilliant it to, to, to, to educate up and coming one grows. Wow. Perfect. Okay. And lastly, I think everybody who’s going to be watching this will probably know the answer to the question, but of course answer the questions.

Jonathan Whittley (20:29):
Right. If you could only drink from one region for the rest of your days, where would it be? I’m why in a nutshell, in a nutshell, uh, the, the, the burgundy region that I’m in, I have to say I have no, I have no, uh, knowledge. I don’t [inaudible] the macaroni or the Bush really, but I would say the big Indian region and more specifically, the Kodo is where I would quite like to, in my days. Um, I, they, they do seem much that he’s joyous about that region, um, in, in such a, in such a concentrated area. That’s it. I could, I could easily walk as I have done from vineyard to vineyard, uh, finding exciting things that I could talk about, um, for much longer than we’ve got here.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (21:26):
Yes. Wonderful. Well, Jonathan, thank you very much for taking time out today. It’s come a four hour show and hopefully next year we can go to burgundy as opposed to Bordeaux for an OnPrem or campaign tender. That would be lovely, excellent company vice versa as well, especially as you can speak the lingo that we are, but, um, that is all for today. So thank you once again for joining us and until next time, all the best. Thank you.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we would like to highlight some of the women in the wine trade that have inspired us over the years.


Cult Boutique Wine ManagementCorrine Mentzelopoulos owns and runs the prestigious Bordeaux Chateau Margaux and is often cited as one of the leading female figures in the wine trade.  Mentzelopoulos received the distinction of Officer of the Legion of Honor in 2012.


Cult Boutique Wine ManagementJancis Robinson is a wine critic and journalist writing for The Times, as well as her own website  Her writing career started in 1975 and over the years has led to a string of awards and recognition as one of the most influential wine critics in the world.


Cult Boutique Wine ManagementSaskia de Rothschild is the latest of the Rothschild Family to take the helm at Chateau Lafite Rothschild.  With history as an investigative journalist, Saskia has never been afraid of a challenge, so becoming the youngest person to run a first growth estate is a perfect fit.


Cult Boutique Wine ManagementSarah Ahmed is an award-winning wine writer, educator and judge who writes for Decanter Magazine alongside her own website  Specialising in wines from Portugal and Australia, in 2013 she was admitted to the rank of Cavaleiro of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto.


Cult Boutique Wine ManagementSerena Sutcliffe is the head of Sotheby’s international wine department and a respected wine writer.  The second woman to become a Master of Wine, Sutcliffe was also awarded the title of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour for her work promoting French wine.


Cult Boutique Wine ManagementJane Anson is Decanter Magazine‘s Bordeaux correspondent, writes for the South China Morning Post and is a published wine author.  A wine educator at Ecole du Vin Bordeaux, Anson holds a masters in publishing and a tasting diploma from the Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology.


Cult Boutique Wine ManagementAlbiera Antinori, 27th generation member of the Antinori Family, is the President of Italian wine dynasty Marchesi Antinori.  Closely supported by her sisters Allegra and Alessia, the trio work together to continue the family traits of tradition, passion and intuition.


Cult Boutique Wine ManagementVeronique Sanders, MD of Chateau Haut-Bailly is the 4th generation of her family to work with the property.  Her interests span from viticulture & winemaking through to architecture.  A self-confessed people person, she has helped to drive the hospitality side of the business.


There are obviously countless other inspirational women in the wine trade, so please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

Just over a year ago I travelled to Cheshire to the funeral of a priest in whose church choir in North London I had sung many years ago. I’d not seen his two daughters for about thirty years, so it was good to catch up with them, but I was particularly touched by the fact that both their husbands remembered me vividly from the days when they were dating. One of them had been a Group-Captain in the RAF, and so I was able to tell him of my recent visit to the spruced-up RAF Club in Piccadilly. “I’ve not been there for a while”, he said, “but I can remember drinking some very nice wine”. Well what do you know.


I had fortified myself for the occasion with a buck rarebit at Fortnum and Mason


I explained that the purpose of my recent visit to the Club was to do precisely that, as detailed in this newsletter a year ago. And so it was that in early January this year I went to the same place for the 2018 EP William Fevre and Bouchard Pere Burgundy tasting organised by Fells & Co. I had fortified myself for the occasion with a buck rarebit at Fortnum and Mason (poached egg atop Welsh) and it was a wonder I didn’t arrive at the wine-tasting already reeling from the price I paid for it in relation to its size!

I soon got down to the serious business of tasting first some very fine Chablis from Domaine William Fevre. Now I don’t know how you feel about oysters – bear with me – but I am tending these days to evangelise about them in the manner of a born-again Christian.  I only discovered them a matter of three years ago when I watched my neighbour in a bistro on the Ile de Re tucking in and thought there must be something about them. Indeed there is. Now, the perfect marriage for a dozen oysters, dressed or undressed – however you like, is I would say a glass or two of William Fevre Grand Cru Vaudesir or Les Clos. Why should this be? Because the soil in which the chardonnay grape is cultivated to produce this wonderful liquid is comprised of clay and ….oyster shells! Let it not be said that this contributor doesn’t know his stuff or enjoy imparting thereof.


They are neither of them entry-level, but you could spoil yourself


Vaudesir and Les Clos are two parcelles that I return to year on year as they always have a very exciting mouthfeel. They are neither of them entry-level, but you could spoil yourself and either would go down very nicely with half a dozen Carlingford Lough Rocks.

Oysters, top-end Chablis, am I moving into a different league? Well I equally enjoy, and said as much in my report last year, the Petit Chablis and Chablis Domaine for everyday drinking, which tasted as good this year as they ever do. The 2018 Petit Chablis has a very satisfying hit on the nose and the Chablis Domaine is good and ‘rocky’.

I am afraid I can’t recommend an entry level red from Bouchard Pere & Fils as I simply didn’t taste any. In any case, entry-level red Burgundy these days can be pricey enough, and some that are not that pricey are not worth the investment. This reminds me of a mantra quoted by the proprietor of my local Italian deli : “Good ain’t cheap and cheap ain’t good” says he as he gleefully prices up a bottle of premium olive-oil.

I did however taste some mid-range, lesser known reds, even discovering a new and apparently revered parcelle. Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru sits a few kilometres south-east of Gevrey-Chambertin. Lovely fruity taste, could develop well, but certainly not entry-level. Nor is Echezaux Grand Cru, at around 40 euros less ex-cellar price per bottle, but there is a rather nice dryness missing from the Bonnes-Mares, together with a subtle richness.

However of the reds I tasted on that occasion, the most interesting with good length and balance was the Le Corton Grand Cru. 70 euros worth of Burgundian class.

Burgundy has been in the headlines recently in the press in France as a result of the body of the French Ministry of Agriculture responsible for regulating French agricultural products with Protected Designations of Origin – what we know as ‘Appellation d’Origine Controlee’ (AOC) – meeting on 6 February to discuss excluding 7000 hectares from the Bourgogne appellation, including the whole of Chablis. Sacre bleu! Quelle horreur.

As might be expected, there was a demonstration by the Syndicats de Bourgogne outside the offices of the Institut Nationale d’Origine et de Qualite, and the status quo remains for now, no such drastic measures have been taken. This rather thorny question will however remain on the agenda as, surprisingly, Burgundy’s viticultural area was never entirely defined (technically) when the AOC sytem was introduced in 1937.


It is very easy to go ‘round the world’ of wine, as it were, in a few steps in a long room.


Fells Portfolio Tasting

I always enjoy the Fells Portfolio tasting which takes place in mid-February at the Institute of Engineering Technology near the Savoy Hotel in the Strand. It is very easy to go ‘round the world’ of wine, as it were, in a few steps in a long room. Because of other commitments I actually paid a morning visit for the first time this year, thinking that all the fun happens in the afternoon and I’d miss the throngs and the jollity. Not a bit of it! The place was heaving.

It might have been something to do with the weather but I gravitated towards the red wine rather than the white, particularly the Italy stand. I first tasted a 2017 Langhe Nebbiolo DOC from Renato Ratti, followed by a 2015 Barolo DOCG Marcenasco : two very noble wines in succession. I then tasted several wines from a producer entirely new to me : Tedeschi. I tried a really fruity 2016 Capitel San Rocco Valpolicella (around £20). However I subsequently made two very interesting discoveries from the same producer – a 2016 La Fabriseria Valpolicella DOC Classico Superiore (around £30), quite fruity with balsamic notes adding richness.

I have always found Amarone della Valpolicella quite heavy and more like a dessert wine than anything else, so my big discovery was Tedeschi’s 2016 Marne 180 Amarone DOCG (around £40), which even with a 16.5% ABV ( yes really ) was quite dry and not as cloying as many others I’ve tasted.

I did venture slightly into the New World to try Yalumba’s 2015 The Signature red (around £40) : 51% Cabernet Sauvignon,49% Shiraz – a stand-out vintage, smooth as silk, and thoroughly recommended.

By Jonathan Whittley

Gabrilele Gori of VNK and The Italian Revolution dropped by the Cult & Boutique Show to speak with us about his ventures in hospitality and his journey through the trade.