Sixth-generation grape grower Adrian Hoffmann of Dimchurch Vineyards & Chris Ringland Wines took time to visit our offices and make a guest appearance on The Cult & Boutique Show.  Adrian discusses grape growing in the Barossa Valley, winemaking, climate change and the devastating Australian wildfires, along with an insight into the man behind the vines simply known as Mr Barossa.

Last week we held an exclusive tasting hosted by sixth-generation grape grower Adrian Hoffmann of Dimchurch Vineyards & Chris Ringland Wines. Held at The Ivy Cafe in Richmond-upon-Thames and attended by a number of Cult & Boutique clients, the selection of wines were accompanied by an impressive three-course meal.

Throughout the meal Adrian talked us through his wines, interlaced with entertaining stories from his experiences growing up in the Barossa Valley and tending to the family vines.

Adrian also took time to visit our offices and make a guest appearance on The Cult & Boutique Show. The full transcript is below but this was produced by voice recognition software, so expect the odd error here and there.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (00:00):
Hi there and welcome to another episode of the Cult & Boutique wine show. I’m your host, senior international director, Daniel Patterson. Uh, we meet today as a very special guest all the way from Australia. He’s one of the most influential people in the fine wine world and Barasa famous for his collaborations with some of Australia’s most exclusive and yachts, many of which we at call some boutique, very familiar with is what does our clients on the fine wine world in general, vineyards such as two hands, Chris Ringland, Glatzer Barossa Valley, John Duval wines to his very own vineyard dim church without further instruction. Our guests, a fifth-generation grower, sick generation on the property and one of the most important barons of Barossa. An influential advocate for the bras. Lavati Asian Hoffman agent. Thank you for joining me today. How are you?

Adrian Hoffmann (00:51):
I’m very good, thank you. I’ve just come back from a uh, got on a long flight. So you are here for a, uh, I suppose a short stay coming across. Don’t generally like traveling during the growing season cause it’s most probably the most important time to be in the vineyard this time of year, but took the opportunity to come across and uh, catch up with you guys. Thank you.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (01:10):
Thank you Sue. And I believe obviously we have this a tasting and we’re going to be doing this evening, which should be very exciting.

Adrian Hoffmann (01:16):
Very well. I’m actually looking forward to it. Um, I really like I suppose showcasing ones from our vineyard and um, especially ones that I’m involved in with Chris.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (01:24):
Oh definitely. And you mentioned, is it just today that you’ve arrived in the UK? Was it a couple of days prior?

Adrian Hoffmann (01:29):
No, I only arrived yesterday, so, um, I don’t suffer too much jet lag when I’m coming over here. Generally suffer the jet lag when going home. Say I tend to point if I’m going with the times, I am not too bad if I’m going against the time zone, that’s when I tend to suffer a little bit. So yeah. Fair enough. Fair enough. And how long do you plan on staying within the UK or even Europe for? Um, I’m only in the UK for three days and then I’ve got another tasting, another dinner in Frankfurt as well. So our, our distributor over there, mr Nathus, um, he’ll be hosting me. So yeah.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (01:56):
Oven I would say could be something, some of those reasons you, uh, you enjoy that soon.

Adrian Hoffmann (02:00):
Yeah, no, I definitely enjoy my Rieslings. I’m, I still like those semi-sweet Riesling so they’re very nice, very good,

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (02:06):
very good on numb. But the people who might want to know more about yourself. I enjoy history. How did you Johnny and Y begin?

Adrian Hoffmann (02:16):
Well, I suppose I grow, grew up in the industry. Um, I’ve always lived on the property but when I grew up on the property it was quite different. Um, it was a, I suppose a, um, it covered all different aspects of agriculture. We had sheep, we had dairy, um, grandma ran shocks as well. Um, we had our apricot trees. Um, so that all sort of, I suppose come to a head when I was leaving school cause um, you know, my grandfather sorta said to me, do I want to be a dairy farmer? And I said, well, the idea of milking cows morning and night for the rest of my life didn’t, wasn’t that appealing. Um, and we didn’t have a huge amount of land either. So you know, the option to go bigger, bigger with cropping or sheep, what wasn’t there either. But we’re very well positioned I suppose in the Barossa with where our vineyard was and the land that we had for the, so I’m all the way through the nineties, I suppose.

I grew the vineyard organically. Um, uh, so you know, as people ask for more fruit, um, we, we basically, um, grew those bonds. So we started planting in 92. Um, the, the year I left high school, um, and we just grew, I suppose our doll, it’s blocking our home block Shiraz. And as, as we sort of took away paradox, um, always ran a few beefy cows. So I had a few beef, beef cattle, but, um, then we ran out of paradox for that as well. So, um, so I took, I suppose I took the property from a modest 20 hectare to what we’re now at about 140. Hit there.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (03:35):
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I can obviously we’ve, you been a fifth-generation grower, a sixth-generation, the prophecies we touched about, uh, the beginning of the show. You, um, some would see that as a lot of pressure. Uh, was there ever any doubt that he was going to continue into footsteps? And was there anything else that you foresee about doing outside of wine?

Adrian Hoffmann (03:55):
Oh, I suppose because of the downturn in the industry in the 70s and definitely the IDs might that actually went into general engineering. Um, so he done went into motive mechanics. So when I actually left, um, as much as we still looked after the great bonds, I suppose I was actually studying welding at the time. So looking at, going into I suppose middle fabrication, um, and shed building, which was, uh, my dad’s business, Hoffman construction. So, um, we built, you know, built quite a few sheds around the place and when we were no known for the quality of shits that my dad built as well, you know, they weren’t going to blow down in a thousand years sort of thing. I think you could build them in the tornado alley in the U S and I don’t think they would have blown down that will always over-engineered cyberspace. So that’s most probably where I spent I suppose, um, first four years after high school.

But we still had to look after the bonds and we’re still planning a few blocks slowly. Um, but then I suppose the bug really bit me, um, uh, in 99 when I’ve become young ambassador for the Bourassa, but I also studied at Tife prior to that as well. So I’m done. I live all three in viticulture. Um, so I suppose for me to get a better understanding of more modern-day viticultural techniques cause everything I learned I was learning from my grandfather. Um, and it was always quite, it was good to learn from him, but it was also good to learn. You know, I basically learned from my grandfather where, how things were done, um, and why some of the things we’ve done as well. And, um, he was most probably a very good teacher cause he was, he led me to make a lot of mistakes along the way as well.

So mistakes, things that he would’ve actually, um, he would have learned through his course of growing rice. But he was happy for me to do because you know, you tend to learn more from what doesn’t work than the successes. So and that’s, and that’s still happening to this day now. So you try and experiment and you’re always trying to think you’re doing something better in the vineyard or something different. But generally most of the time someone else’s already has done it before and you try and learn, you know, you want to talk to people within the industry and learn from their experiences as well.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (05:50):
No, definitely. I think you connects to them point there as well in life. There is a too much focus on not making mistakes, but where a school may punish you for making mistakes. Life actually rewards you for the mistakes in which you make because you’re always going to be learned.

Adrian Hoffmann (06:04):
Well, I, I th I think that’s, I think that’s where it puts you to the next level in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s gripe, growing or, or a whatever, whatever. Um, I suppose journey you are in life, you learn from your mistakes. As long as you learn from your mistakes and then you can achieve better, um, and, and your, the outcomes better at the end. Um, it’s always going to be great. You know, it’s a bit like a, with a cricket and stuff like that. You get to get a bounce from and you keep on sweating at it and you keep on getting hit on the body. Eventually you learn you’re gonna actually have to hit the ball if you don’t want it to hit you. So that’s true. Yeah.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (06:35):
Not very good. Um, with regards to that, I’ve of course mistakes always going to speed that. Um, however, with the challenges you’ve been faced with along the way, again, aside from once when you were challenged by, I think a, a great, another great picker.

Adrian Hoffmann (06:50):
Yeah, it was, it was a female grape picker and it was, it was the, it was to get to the end of, uh, end of the rise. I was sort of trying to motivate them a little bit and I think it was, I was on a lose lose bet. I think I’m at the end of the day because, um, if, if I beat me to the end of there, I had to drop my pants on the, on the bottom of the tractor and if any part, and if I was to get there at the end of the road that she was going to do the same and I’m most probably not the most attractive lady to be doing that. But that’s still, I guys say, well we could, we mustn’t grumble. That’s right.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (07:21):
But um, obviously we’re, with regards to that, have there been any other general challenges that you did face? I know you mentioned, uh, initially, uh, again, taking the heads of some 20 hectors. So I’ve a 100 hectors. It must’ve been, uh, quite taxing at the time.

Adrian Hoffmann (07:38):
Cause it happened organically. It wasn’t sort of forced. We didn’t, weren’t going out and planting, you know, we’ve never had an issue with over supply on our vineyard. People talk about oversupply in the industry in the two thousands. We, we sorta didn’t have that issue because we, we, our fruit is always sought after. Some of the biggest challenges that we’ve got is I suppose, um, mitigating against, um, I suppose the, the changing environment that we’re dealing with. Um, this year, you know, we’re dealing with some extreme hot weathers. We had a, we had a hot, hot, um, a windy event during our flaring, um, which, which allowed for a poor set. But in saying that if we didn’t have the poor set, we would have had to start dropping fruit on the ground. So each year has got those challenges. Um, you know, 13, 14 and 15 for us were very challenging years in frosted years, uh, in the vineyard.

Um, we spent a lot of money on now frost mitigation for, but for us it’s all about trying to, um, uh, I suppose for us it’s trying to mitigate against those risks. You know, getting, getting extra water so you can actually supplement water the Vons to make sure that they’re healthy and green enough. Um, for, for us to, you know, particular violence during spring. So for me it’s the challenges of, you know, I had had it, we now, you know, that one hot day is sort of really put a bit of a dampener on this vintage from a grape growing point of view. But from a worn making point of view, the wine makers are rubbing their hands together cause they’re going to be looking at uh, you know, lower yielding crops. They were looking at more concentrated fruits, smaller berries, everything that they like about a good bright quality year.

Unfortunately I don’t think the quite the volume of fruit is going to be there. That’s going to be pleasing to anyone, especially the consumer because I, there will be a much smaller vintage but the quality is going to be fantastic and without normally then results in maybe slightly higher price. We, it’s not a trend in Australia. You know, if we, if we were to try and compensate with pricing, you know, most probably should be nearly happy to triple the pricing of the one. But you’re not going to see that. Generally we’re a lot more, um, restraint in Australia when it comes to some of those better quality vintages. You know, we’re just, we’re not just gonna ramp up the price because it was a bit of NTG, especially from I suppose Chris and my perspective as well, what we’re, what we’re trying to do is create something unique, something that’s a little bit different that, you know, is gonna last beyond the generations and we don’t want to just ran the process up for the cycle.

And I think, I think we’ve, you know, we’ve, we were the dim church and Hoffman, we set it, set our prices as a bit of a benchmark and I think, um, we’re holding holding that process because I think, you know, they, you know, it is an expensive one, but grow the people that are buying the one is getting value for money. Oh, massive. Massive. When you consider the cost of dip charge and Hoffman compared some other wines from the new world and the old world, which similar quality, some are less and they’re asking for more in terms of what you’re actually offering cost per bottle even though yet like you said, it could be on the more expensive side in the grand scheme of things is actually worth the money for the contents which you’re getting are definitely when you, when you’re talking about Chris, who I deem is one of the best Shiraz wine makers in the world and the attention to detail that are put into my vineyard and especially the parcels, um, that go into high end products, not, not just not just the dim church and Hoffman, but you know, the tall brick run rig, the glide time and rather than, you know, two hands areas, you know, although all those super quality and, and it’s not all the same fruit.

How, how our grow for those different wine makers is quite, is, is stylistically quite different. Um, the soil tops that on is different as well, but when it comes to the dim church and Hoffman, it’s really about going through the vineyard and tasting the fruit and seeing those very more new differences between the Vons and between the frayed and making sure that we’re getting the best, I think the best of the best Freud from our vineyard. Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Um, with regards to the, actually, in your opinion, what does make Australian wines so special and what makes your wine special too? I think what makes Australian wine special is what we don’t have to do. Um, it’s, it’s very, uh, it’s very interesting. You know, there, there are, there are sorts that are dry ground and we can dry grow on a, what I would say is a normal or an average growing year.

Um, we, we can do quite a bit of dry ground fruit in those years. A lot of times we’re doing supplementary irrigation, but we don’t, we don’t have the same chemical inputs. We don’t have the same inputs into our farm. You know, we, we introduced, we introduced a lot of, um, organic matter, organic carbon, say, you know, reclaimed Greenways from the township of Adelaide. I break it down into a compost. We put it in the vineyard. Um, so, you know, that helps with soil, soil, moisture, retention. Um, the bones are just remained healthy. I will a lot healthier overall. So when you start, when you start looking at, I suppose how it, it’s more so the little things that we do, but we don’t, the chemical inputs from a spraying point of view, um, this year has been quite a dry, dry years. So, um, basically put on two posts, post flowering sprays and we haven’t done any sprays after that.

But then we still going through and putting kilt products on to alleviate the stress stress on the Vons as well. So we’ve got those. Um, you know, it’s, it’s always trying to do work out what is the best for the vine for that given year. And each year is slightly different on how we’re going to treat those vines. And would you say that’s more experienced? That then plays a significant role in, uh, you know, predetermining that, or would you call them, uh, of a people to offer a second or third opinion? Ah, generally, you know, I’ll always bounce ideas off of other growers. Um, it’s, it’s crystal ball gazing to a certain degree because you’re looking at um, how far you’re looking into the future. Is it going to be, is December going to be weird? Is it going to be dry? They, everyone was sort of predicting a dry season.

So you know, you can, you have the, you have it in the shed, you have the arsenal in the shed ready to go, but if you don’t have to use it well, why use it? Um, yeah. Chris’s approach to wine making, um, an our approach to selecting the ones is no different. You know, it’s, it’s what you don’t do during the famine. It’s what you don’t do during the maturation process. You know, people are, you know, people sometime are going in and topping up their barrels every month. You know, when we’re topping up our barrels, we do it twice a year. We adjust, saw, do it. Do sulfur checks and adjustments once a year as well. You know, we’re not, we’re not trying to manipulate, uh, what’s actually happening. We just letting the wine tell us on letting the vineyard tell me what to do. Chris is letting the, letting the ones telling him what to do. And it’s very much a hands off approach to actually produce the quality that we get at. It sounds, sounds a little bit silly, but if you starting off with some really good products to start with, whether it’s the fruit, whether it’s the Ike, I think, you know, I think you can make some pretty fantastic ones. Would you say that the soil can also play a role or is that just a myth? That’s most probably is. I won’t, I won’t get into it.

I wasn’t going to talk about the terroir, but I suppose true expression of terroir is, is the bonds on their own roots. And you know, unfortunately on a, um, yeah, your Europe and America, they have to grow on rootstocks. So, um, and I’ve got trials where, you know, if, if, uh, I’ll have to go to rootstocks working out what best rootstocks we can use, uh, in the Bourassa, but at the moment we can plan a lot on our own routes. So you’re getting a true expression of tour wire. So, um, I’m in a unique situation. My grandfather always told me, you know, when God created the earth, he’d done all the different soil types, you know, that it was leftover it out at Ebenezer. Um, because you know, we’ve got, you know, two, two kilometers within two kilometer radius of my house. We’ve got seven foot sands.

You know, we’ve got a red Brown earth soars over red clay, we’ve got Siskey soils, we’ve got bisky over lawn, we got Longstein through it, we’ve got Sandy lines, we’ve got Creek gravel on top of Hills with, with washed quarts and Ornstein through it as well. So you’ve got this myriad of different soil types. And I think that’s how we can get so much complexity into the dim church and Hoffman. We’ve got this myriad of different soil types and every year is slightly different. You know, you know, general rule of thumb for me is a Sandy Lomea saw will, will produce really good fruit in a, in a, um, in a dry year. Um, your heavier saws such as your biscottis and your clays, you know, they’ll produce you really good fruits in those, um, in the wet years. Um, because the soil really wets up and in those, in, in, in those wet years, the Sandy, Sandy soils, just give that moisture to the Von too quickly and you can end up ended up with too much vegetative growth and a bit more shading.

So you can end up with a bit of grain underwrite tendons and things like that as well. But on those wet years, those heavier clothes only give up that moisture very slowly to the barn. So the growth, the growth is regulated all the way through. So even on those wetter years, you can really produce some heavy concentrated ones, maybe not going into 2017 that was a little bit too generous. That’s where we had to work a little bit harder in my show. We actually Rob in the fruit on the bond. Um, and yeah, our, I suppose our limit lodge, um, Kevin Ima Tara because now Kevin, I really thrives in conditions like that and we produced a very special Kevin O’ Mataro in 2017 as well.

So that’s the ones keep an eye out for for sure. Yeah. Good, good. And obviously there’s been, I think there’s been more news which come out today about the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Australia. I’ll see with the wildfires must have been ongoing in more recent times, a loss of human lives, loss of hundreds of millions of wildlife, forestry, people’s homes, vineyards and so on. In your opinion, is there a genuine issue with global warming? The likes of what’s a Gretta funBug we’ll talk about and if so, how can we make that change?

I think everyone’s got to do their own little bit. Um, I think my family’s been doing that for generations already. So, you know, we, we’ve got sections of our, of our property that we’ve actually created as nitric corridors, so Waldorf can actually move through it. Um, we, well, I suppose we, we, we look at the environmental impact of what we do. Um, you know, it, I was sorta talking before about our organic, um, organic vineyard and our organic vineyard most for uses slightly more water than what are traditionally grown. Um, you know, what a traditional vineyard is actually, uh, using. So, you know, is organic better in that circumstance because it’s has, has a slightly higher environmental impact from a watering point of view, which is quite an important issue in Australia as well. Um, but I, I think really it comes down to the management of our natural resources as well.

200 years ago, the aboriginals would let a lot of small fires every year clearing out different areas and you wouldn’t have these big wildfire blazers and things like that as well. Um, so, you know, it’s, it’s now getting to, you know, people don’t want, um, and it is a big issue doing these controlled burns and you only get a very small period of time generally in sort of April and may to do these fires before winter sets in. Um, and reducing all the fuel load in some of these areas just wasn’t done and completed in time or they haven’t been aggressive enough to do it. So then, then when you get a dry fire sparked on a hot day, you get these mega fires as well. Um, you know, I’m not, I’m not definitely not a climate change skeptic. Um, the numbers are there to say, you know, we’re increasing carbon into the air and things like that in there as well.

But it’s not fair to blame, you know, one country or another country that that’s not doing, not doing their thing. We’re getting a little bit political now, but, but for me, I think if everyone can do their own little bit, um, to help, um, yeah, whether it’s just, just recycling and that’s where, you know, coming back to our compost that we’re putting onto our, um, vineyard, you know, using that, you know, recycle green waste from Adelaide. I think that’s, that’s us doing our little bit to help. Um, you know, we, you know, we haven’t sorta done the numbers on what we’re doing, but we’d be fairly close to carbon neutral on our property. I know that’s a big credential for a lot of wineries to sit there and work out the numbers and be carbon neutral as well. Knowing that, you know, I want a bottle of Warren arrives at your place, um, that, you know, all the, all the thought about the environmental impact and the carbon footprint of that product has been taken into consideration.

Yes. Okay. Okay. And on a more positive note, um, you know, the Australian vineyard sores a legendary, they’re up there with some of the best, if not the best people speak about the Napa Valley wine sores, the Bordeaux wine sauce, the Rhone wine sauce. However, if anyone was, you know, listening to this or watching this, uh, and then once it’s come to dim church vineyards, what can they expense on a wine soar? Well, we’ll, we’re looking at, I’m actually setting up for basically a wine experience. Say I’m getting people on to actually give them a bit of better understanding. Um, I think just in grape grow grape growing in general, I think, you know, there’s a lot of myths out there about what makes good fruit and how good fruit is grown. Um, I think, I think for me, we’ve, we’ve most probably, well we’ve got multiple multitudes of different blocks.

So we’ve got about 12 different blocks, but inward within each one of those blocks we’ve got different management techniques. And this is, this is what comes back to the, you know, the 20 or 30 odd plus warranties that I deliver to ’em and the producers that are delivered to, because they’re all looking for something slightly unique and different. But you know, if that were to come out and have a vineyard tour, you know, I definitely always like to show him the elevation. Um, you know, getting, getting him up, um, looking across, looking across the Valley and looking down the Valley so people can understand. Um, there’s divert the Barossa Valley isn’t just one Valley. It’s made up of me, I think several, several

different valleys. Cause you’ve got the Lindoff Valley, you’ve got the Greenock Creek Valley, you’ve got the Barossa Valley proper. Um, where am I? It’s probably, even though we’re the Barossa Valley proper, all our land actually slows out to the North.

So we’re in, we’re in a little niche, micro climate as well. And I think that’s what makes the North Bourassa so special. And then within Eden Valley you’ve got flexpens Valley, you’ve got Eden Valley, then you’ve got the Valley valleys out towards my culture as well where, you know Hinch keys, Hill of Gracie’s and things like that as well. So it’s, it’s quite, it’s quite complex in the nature and for people to come out and explain to explain to them, you know, why the Bourassa is such a diverse, um, you know, region and why we can produce the wines that we can with the diversity that we can. I think that’s really in essence what I like to get through. And when, when you come onto my property, you know, I’ll take you to that scene. You know, you, you basically it’s silica. It’s like going to a beach and then they will guy go, go to the next place where you’ve got, where you can pick up the on stone in the courts and the, and the washed rocks from the top of the Hill.

So cause it was, you know, all, all the potters were also, it was at the bottom of the ocean at one stage and it sort of raised up out of the ocean. Um, but you know, Australia has got very, very much ancient souls and what we’re doing to protect those ancient sores as well. So now my, my philosophy on growing fruit and, and uh, getting that people excited about what I’m actually doing. Cause when I, when I took on the property, you know, my, why my focus was to hand it on to the next generation in better Nick. And I’ve known, I know I’ve done that because I’ve got the numbers to back me up. You know, the organic carbons in the saw, I’ve increased by 0.5%, which normally takes a lifetime to do. And we’ve managed to do that in 20 years and the soils are only going to get better.

And it’s getting people, getting people to actually understand that you’re not, you’re not just buying a bottle of wine, you’re buying into the philosophy of what, you know, dim church and the half Hoffman ones are all about. And with that next generation, is that, um, is that, is that children, are they cousins? Are they, my thing is the next generation, he’s giving opportunity. Any young person that wants to do farming. Um, I think the dream of, you know, leaving school and becoming a farmer and owning your own property, I think that’s nearly non-existent now. Young people are struggling enough to buy that, buy the first house. Not yet, let alone buy a farm and a property. But, uh, for them, church, bean yards, it’s, it’s whether it’s, um, you know, my kids or my nieces and nephew or, you know, the next generation of my work is to come along, um, and, and work on the property.

I think, you know, giving people that opportunity, um, going forward, uh, my, my son is, I’m doing viticultural operations at tall brick, so basically the same study that I was doing nearly 20 years ago. Um, yeah, he, he’s basically doing the same studies, but you know, he’s playing, he used to come back onto the property, but you know, it’s good to go and find those experiences and you know, if he’s wrecking someone else’s vineyard, will those [inaudible] no, no, no. I’ve made enough mistakes of mine vineyard and lost it. You constantly learn and things like that along the way as well, so, yeah.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (23:58):
Amazing. Amazing. And as, as a mom like myself, you, you love your aged wine. Um, however, obviously that can sometimes come at a slightly high price if you’re looking for a midweek drink, et cetera. Are there any, uh, young wines like young style wines, uh, from a red or white variety? So, uh, that you enjoy drinking sigh every other day. And if so, what are the country or countries or regions that you prefer during younger ones?

Adrian Hoffmann (24:27):
Oh, I think Monash is so in Spanish or Natches. Um, you know, if you can find some good Spanish coronation in, I suppose starting to look at more the serious top Roseau’s so you know, people, people that have, um, you know, going away from not having such a heavy red style, especially during the summer months. Um, but for me, um, greenish and motherhood, um, yeah Matare for us, I think, you know, looking, looking at different varietals there, whether it comes from, um, you know, old world, old world or even a new world, um, that’s, that’s what sort of excites sights me, especially the Ganash because I think it’s such a versatile, versatile. Um, but yeah, once again, you can’t sort of getting into the winter months just to kind of beat Shiraz. So, uh, and the ageability of it. So very true.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (25:12):
Very true. All right. So now for yourself, sample lots of great wines, right? Your yes. Um, is there a bucket list one? Well, one, and I know there may be many, but one that sticks out and you think, I must try not wine before.

Adrian Hoffmann (25:28):
I reckon everyone talks about the, I think it’s the ATT chefy to Kim. So yes. Okay. Cause I still like my sticky wines, but I said I think value for money. I think people, people underestimate the twenties and the Sherry’s in the four to Ford’s of the world Messiah. I really, really like, I really like my, um, uh, I suppose I’ve got a good four to fortified stack at home, but you know, I value for money when you’re picking up a wine that’s, you know, potentially aged for 50 years in barrel and you can pick it up for, you know, $70 70, 70 quid. And you know, it’s, that’s just living history basically in a bottle and, and you know, circles who will do it very well cause we’ve got the a hundred year old and um, I was lucky enough to get a bottle of the a hundred year old, um, at the bras or auction this year.

And um, yeah, people said, Oh you mad mad for buying it. And I said, well it’s, it’s a a hundred a hundred years, a hundred years old and it cost me six grand to buy the bottle. Um, they, it’s, you can lay it down for a long time as well. It’s not gonna, it’s not gonna go off. It’s not gonna, it’s not gonna go anywhere. It’s, it’s gonna. It’s going to be the same today, tomorrow and for the rest of its life. But I think there’s something for ’em. Yeah. I open it up. I’m a 50th and share it with a lot of friends. Been, I’ve had the opportunity over the years try, you know, some really fantastic ones. Thanks for it. Thanks to Mike to have Chris’s Yagan. So, uh, um, to try some of these really old Barolos and things like that as well. But yeah, that’s something, there’s something to behold, you know, yet.

Yeah. I think it was a 48 Barolo that we had and uh, it was, it was as nearly as fresh as what it had been bottled. It must’ve been very taught, very compared one when they actually bottled it. But, you know, I think understanding and wine makers, understanding what, what needs to be done to create ones that are going to last, you know, lot of times I think is massive. On the flip side of that, what was the one

bottle that is, you’ve, you’ve tried that was actually in your memory sill now you can still taste and you’re like, this is why I love wine. Whoever’s prior to really getting into wine or what it’s been since she’d been fully immersed in wine, you try to and your life, this sums up why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’ll think what, what really got me hooked onto hog hooked onto one, an H one was um, basically a it [inaudible] Rockford’s basket press and tie, enticing, just tasting that one.

Um, and always my eyes probably. Uh, it wasn’t most probably real old at the time. Uh, it was my most probably one. Uh, it was my, it’s probably only 10, 10 years old at the time when I actually tried it. But actually that was my sort of first one. Um, you know, that all sort of bought and collected and, and you know, opened it up and go, you know, got me sort of hooked onto, you know, looking at wines and, um, I suppose my focus on, especially when I’m looking at the one on one companies that I’m delivering to, whether it’s a know a glide sir or a cliff sling, Lynette Ringland a John Duvall or a light, it’s a, I look at what is the age ability of the one, you know, why, why should I be paying a premium for this one and is, you know, am I going to be able to join in my later years?

Are my kids going to be able to enjoy it in there? And they use, and that’s what I’m really looking for look for in a one. Okay. And, uh, for yourself, do you have like any mottos or mantras that you live by, whether it be personally or from the professional standpoints, or is it just happy go lucky and just awesome little bit of happy go lucky, but it’s generally go hard or go home, you know, give it a crack. You gotta you gotta leave, you gotta live life to the fullest and you know, you gotta yeah, you gotta you gotta give it, give it a decent nudge site. Um, it’s, so, it’s honestly we’ve been thrown a few, quite a few challenges in the industry, um, just in the last couple of years where their yields and, um, I suppose how, you know, how, how everything’s going in the vineyard but more, you know, to pick yourself up.

And especially, you know, in 2013 we lost about 40% of our area to frost. And I am, I said to dad, we need to do something about this. You know, we can’t lose that much area. And he said, no, no, you’ll never see anything like that. Cause that was the sort of the first time we had a major loss of that kind of nature. And then the following year we lost 70% of our area to frost. Um, and I just said to him, I say, well, this, this is, this is Michael Bright Tom for us. Say, you know, we invested that the following year we invested nearly $600,000 into frost mitigation devices and, and he said, you’ll never see that again. And he thought I was wasting my money and if we didn’t do that, we would have lost 80% of our area to frost. And because we put in all these frost mitigation, um, you know, we have only, we only lost 30% of the area, so it investment that paid off very much so in the, in the first year that we actually put it in.

Um, but then, you know, since then all sort of out, you know, after that I said within five years, anything that is on the, uh, what we call the lowlands of Ebeneezer in the frost areas, um, I wasn’t going to grow without frost mitigation. You know, even if it’s never been frosted, so young blondes are potentially never get frosted. We’ll get a frost fan to help protect the crop. Um, the next thing you know, that we sort of done after the dry years of sort of, um, you know, 16 is basically, so we need to get enough water. Say we need enough water. So if we do have these drive year dry years that we can actually water, um, and supplement the double bonds so we can actually get a decent crop and get the quality

because um, it is very much, you know, adding the addition of water can actually increase the quality of your fruit because your Vaughn’s don’t stress, you don’t lose the leaf on the Yvonne.

So, um, you know, the, the factory that’s producing all the sugar and all the flavors, um, you keep that on the Vaughn, the fruit drives in a bit of shade. Um, so it’s not fully exposed to the hot sun and things like that as well. So to make sure that you’ve got that supplementary water there to grow the best quality possible possible now is very important as well. So all these, all these combinations, you gotta, you know, it’s not just thinking about one thing, it’s, it’s all, you know, I’ll sort of say at the beginning of the growing season, you start off with a hundred percent capacity and, and it’s, and you, you, everything you do after that just whittles it down. So the environment helps you whittle it down. Oh, you’re trying to do is create these 1% has all the time to make sure you can get the best quality fruit.

You know, you don’t start off with nothing and the things that you do and it’s gonna to make it better. You start off with a premium quality. And then after that, you, all you’re doing is trying to get it as close as what you can and keep it close as you can to that 100%. So. Right. Very insightful. Thanks for this. And, um, obviously for yourself, we were Salk, um, past and present. If you could choose your old smoke-free than the guests, who would they be? And which free wines would you, uh, choose to serve? Um, also, ultimate dinner guests are our economics probably. Um, dif definitely invited my grandfather. So, um, from, from the, uh, from the past, and I would actually show him the ones that we’re creating now. So, um, he passed away in, uh, 2010, so, so a lot of, yeah, a lot of the wines and I think a lot of what we’ve created from the Chris Ringland from Avenue yard, he didn’t get to see.

So, um, to a showcase those ones, um, from the present are the most part. We couldn’t go past. Uh, um, my mate, um, uh, John Hughes, um, eight say, but what you would most probably have to go and, uh, dig he some pretty good Rieslings or something, so we’d have to, you know, maybe go to the Mozo, go see ’em, um, Mueller or someone like that. And uh, um, we had a great experience with him actually. Um, uh, uh, June, July last year, myself and John actually got to sit in his lounge room and have a, um, I think it was an IDI. It’s, um, uh, all slides that he pulled out for us to try as they were sitting in his lounge room with it. Um, uh, you know, say that was fantastic. Um, but, uh, then, and then I suppose if future AREC and um, it’d be fantastic to, uh, you know, you sit down with, I suppose, you know, not maybe the son’s generation but the generation after that.

And um, you know, I did out some of the ones that I’ve made just now and actually have a try those one once. Um, and to see, I hate to see, yeah, I’ve got, I’ve got great confidence in our ones are going to age for a long, long time, but it’d be fantastic to, you know, have a look at these ones, you know, and, and see, see how well they have aged and you know, generally say it’s, um, when people ask me, well, you know, what vintages do you like? I generally tend to like the fruit from the more difficult vintages to grow for. So, you know, if you go back to 2013 and 14 in 15 vintages for me, it’ll be 18 and 20 vintages as well. It says you used where, you know, 2010, 2012, you know, I think great vintages and might’ve fantastic ones, but from a vineyard point of view, we didn’t have to do a huge amount in the vineyard.

Those ones sort of made themselves. Um, there was very little, um, intervention that we could do, but some of the work that we did in some of those lighter, uh, in some of those more difficult vintages and see the outcomes and see some of those great ones from those more difficult vintages and things like that as well. Um, you know, I’m very disappointed that we might as well. We didn’t keep, um, some of our 2011 ones back because it was a very difficult growing season. Um, and the ones were, the ones were fantastic ones. If it was a Ryan red, but it was a Barossa Valley Shiraz that we’re making and it was, it had all the classic characteristics of a classic, you know, high end Rowan red. And um, but yeah, it wasn’t, it wasn’t the style of one that we’re actually looking at doing, but you know, say the one that we’ve made in 2016 in, in some of those more challenging years, 2008 in a challenging year in that as well. I see. The outcome of those ones I think is fantastic. Brilliant. And the couple of, uh, Northern wine questions, um, very basic ones. However, what would you say is one of your all time favorite films? Uh, Shawshank redemption song. Yeah. Yep. So that, that’s, that’s my all time favorite. So basically, um, yeah, the, I suppose someone that, uh, got wrongly accused and Hey, crawling on the inside. Yeah. I don’t know if you have a

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (35:38):
quarter serious prison break. That was the brainchild, I think from Shawshank redemption because I was hooked on prison break for sure up until, I think Syria free when they went to Panama and I got [inaudible]

Adrian Hoffmann (35:49):
yeah, yeah. You gotta you gotta be, you gotta be funky after that one. I did want the prison break series as well, so that was very, very smart season. And um, I suppose law abiding citizen is a little bit, um, a little bit along the same tracks as well. So that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s up there in my favorite films as well.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (36:06):
Definitely. Definitely. Okay. And uh, music wise, well, what is your genre genre is that, you know, if, if he was to put your phone on shuffle as an example, what could we expect to hear

Adrian Hoffmann (36:20):
[inaudible] he had quite a bit of queen, so I’m a bit of a queen tragic. So yeah, as you see the film, I’ve seen it several times already, so brilliant. Right yet. So I was, um, most probably a little bit before, well before my time, cause I was born in 75, but yeah. But yeah, Def definitely a bit of a queen tragic em, but also also I suppose a lot of those, um, are I suppose more classic, classic pop types type arrangements as well. So still like listening to Elton John, uh, you know, sort of that sort of, I don’t like the whole death metal and heavy metal, but there’s these odd odd bits and pieces that I’ll pick out of it. Cause I do like the Hilltop hoods say like ACDC or [inaudible], you can always pop along to the bop along to them. But I suppose on my is probably more your classic rock more so than you’re a heavy rock and heavy metals.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (37:14):
Well that can be a bit extreme concert definitely. But I just, you said queen because, uh, when I was on the way to the Philippines with my, my wife and my children was one of the films I w w that was on the plane, uh, watched it and I couldn’t believe how they were portraying, you know, um, Freddie mercury in particular. And then if you’ve seen the live aid concert, you see how the, uh, the film core set. And then there’s a YouTube video on that. We can actually see the live performance by Freddie marker in the, uh, the films cycle and he’s just f’ing wow. It’s just sort of encapsulates what it, you know, how

special queen one, how significant they were, you know, so not very good. And, um, okay. As we draw to a close, just a couple more quick questions then. What does the future hold for Asian Hoffman and dim church for yachts?

Adrian Hoffmann (38:01):
Well, I don’t think I, I think things are going to change too much, um, for a dim church vineyards or for, or for myself. Um, you know, I was most probably very fortunate in my, uh, years that my dad handed over the reins to me very early. A lot of, a lot of, um, I suppose grape growers and farmers, they hang onto their property for a long time and then the sons don’t become as interested. Um, my, my plan would be, um, you know, as soon as my son’s willing and able, when he, and he really wants to take the bull by the horns, um, also the handy hand hand that onto him. And I’m almost where we can spend a little bit more time. I’m traveling and I’m the wall on wall on, you know, young and fit enough to walk in and spend my rest of my years chipping weeds in the vineyard and pottering around the vineyard or um, always liked a, always liked having a veggie patch. But you know, in the last 10 years I most probably haven’t had the time or anything to do that. Um, if you know, the sun takes on the vineyard or can most mopery start up a bit more of a veggie patch again and, and, and chip around in that and grow off it of my own projects again. So.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (39:00):
All right. So now lost the as well of course. Um, we’ve, what’s been happening in Australia, um, for someone like yourself, what, where would you recommend someone like ourselves, our viewers, our listeners to, to recommend to, is there a specific, uh, organization over in Australia, um, that, you know, the money would definitely go to? Who would need the help? Is there a specific,

Adrian Hoffmann (39:23):
well, I think, I think the, uh, the red cross foundations, um, and, and the Salvos, I think they’re the, they’re the ones that they’re, they’re organizations that’ll actually get, get the money to the people that are actually required and, and, uh, will actually need, need this, need the support. I think, I think the biggest thing for ’em, especially in the Bush, far in the Bush for appeals, it’s not, it’s not what’s gonna happen in the next three, three months, in six months. You know, [inaudible] whole communities are going to have to be rebuilt. So, and that’s going to take, you know, years and years and years. Um, and that’s going to take a big policy policy change from I suppose government and how the government, um, reacts. Um, and you know, we’ve got a three tiered government system in the, in, in Australia as well. But I think, I think the big biggest support that you can actually give, give to those communities is in most, you know, two, three, four years time has actually, uh, what we’ve been encouraged to do as Australians is actually get back into those communities and spend money within those communities.

Because when you, when you start spending money within those communities, Dow, they now distribute the funds though, get to employ people, keep people within the communities. Because the hardest thing in Australia in general is this, the support of rural communities and keeping people in the country. You know, we’re all going to very centralized populations, whether it’s in the big cities, whether it’s Melbourne or Sydney or Brisbane. But to keep people in those rural communities I think is very important. And the one thing you can do from a, um, from a support point of view is actually go visit those communities, stay within those communities. When, you know, when you come to Australia, you know, the big draw card is always Sydney and Melbourne. Um, when people come out to the Barossa,

we’ll go into the Adelaide Hills, you know, they, you know, they have money that comes in in the ma, their money that gets spent, you know, basically triple triples in the economy because it gets spent in that business, that business that will then spend it within the community and then that, and then the community will spend it again going forward.

So that’s really where the support is going to come from. And it’s March, probably not this year or the next year especially, you know, hopefully, hopefully my wife’s not listening and she’ll hold me to this, but I definitely, most probably in two, two years time I get back onto kangaroo Island. Um, yeah, if we can do it earlier than that, but there’s a lot of rebuilding to be done there. But to support our local community and going there and actually visiting and spending some of our money there and, and on, on the Island, on the community and they’ll, they’ll, they’ll work their way through it. And just to show you that they have the, have the support of people. Um, I think is really important.

Cult & Boutique Wine Management (41:45):
Oh, brilliant. Pronoun. It’s always good to give back. Is said definitely for show about some falling while Asian. Thank you very much. Once again, uh, enjoy the rest of the site here in the UK and throughout Europe and many more safe travels and that’s it from meets desire on behalf calls boutique. So until then, uh, all the best. Thank you. See you next time.

The Californian sector of the fine wine market has been getting a lot of attention this year, and for good reason. Over the last five years, the California 50 index has grown by an impressive 60%, leading many to take a second look.

Wine Enthusiast, one of America’s largest fine wine publications, recently collated their top ten Californian Collectibles and calculated their price performance over the last six years.  Ranging from established stalwarts such as Joseph Phelps Insignia and Opus One to highly collectable cult wines, such as Screaming Eagle.  Many of you will recognise these names, as we have been advocating the potential of Californian wines for many years now and it’s great to see our recommendations validated by the region’s ongoing positive growth.

Of the ten wines listed, we have supplied the top eight to our clients over the years and below we run through them one by one to highlight their history and growth.  Last year Liv-ex introduced their California 50 Index – which tracks the price performance of the last ten vintages of the five most actively traded Californian wines – namely Screaming Eagle, Opus One, Dominus, Harlan Estate and Ridge Monte Bello, and unsurprisingly there’s some cross over here too, with all five wines appearing in the top ten.


The first wine that we have recommended appears at number 8.  Joseph Phelps’ Insignia hails from Napa Valley and the first vintage was produced in 1974.  This Bordeaux Blend is made with fruit from cooler Napa sub-regions, such as Stag’s Leap District and Oak Knoll.  Insignia ages very well but its relatively large production helps to keep prices quite grounded. Nether-the-less the average six-year appreciation sits at 53%, and its global following and growing popularity led to our first Insignia recommendation in January 2018.


At number 7, the Colgin IX Estate Red and although the Colgin family had been making wine since the early nineties, the first vintage of this particular wine was made in 2002.  A great deal more attention was given to this winery in 2017 when luxury goods giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group (LVMH) took a 60% stake.  The IX Estate Red is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot grapes grown in the Pritchard Hill area of Napa Valley. Less than 2000 cases are produced in most vintages and the average six-year appreciation sits at 63%.  We first sold Colgin in April 2017 for £1,780 per six which has since grown in value by 19.5% to reach a market value of £2,128.


Harlan Estate placed 6th in the rankings and will be a name very familiar to many of our clients.  Founded in 1984 in the Oakville district of Napa Valley by William Harlan, this estate has developed from humble beginnings to become one of the most desired Napa wines on the market. Harlan has been popular since its first vintage in 1990 and its bold flavours, great structure and ability to age well have kept it at the top of collectors’ wish lists. The Harlan Estate brand has been popular with our clients since we first highlighted its potential in July 2017 and the average six-year appreciation sits at an impressive 64%.


Ridge Monte Bello hails from the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation and the first vintage was produced in 1962 – making it almost ancient in Californian terms!  In fact, number five of the top ten has the longest track record of any of the top collectable Californian wines.  The only wine of the bunch to be made outside of Napa Valley, Ridge is renowned for being firmly structured, complex and the ability to withstand very long term ageing.  Production quantities sit higher than most on this list at around 5,000 cases but this hasn’t got in the way of some very rapid growth of late, with the brand’s average six-year appreciation sitting at 67%.  However, we sold the 2013 vintage in March 2018 for £1,190 per six which has grown by an impressive 44% to today’s market value of £1,715 – just one example of why these wines are so exciting and full of potential.


Fourth place is reserved for a very special wine, Opus One  This is the first Californian wine we recommended, way back in 2010.  Back then we were offering twelve bottle cases of the 2006 vintage for £1,915 and today the same case has a market value of £3,060!  The other ‘special’ feature of Opus One is the partnership between Iconic Napa winemaker Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Bordeaux.  This direct connection to Chateau Mouton Rothschild has helped the estate to raise its global profile and become a market leader.  Aiming to create a wine using Californian fruit and French techniques, Opus One really hit the spot with consumers and has become the first American wine to be sold through official French negociants on La Place de Bordeaux, alongside other fine wine royalty.  Production is colossal compared to other wines on the list but at 22,000 cases this only proves the power of the brand, as Opus One has still averaged a six-year appreciation of 71%.


Number 3 reveals one of Napa’s most collectable wines – Scarecrow.  We introduced clients to this winery in April 2017 via the 2014 vintage and it soon became a firm favourite.  Demand for this small production Cabernet Sauvignon is so great that there is a waiting list to get on the waiting list!  The Inglenook property was purchased in 2002 by photographer Brett Lopez.  The existing vineyard had been planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in 1945 by the previous owner, Brett’s grandfather J.J.Cohn.  Mr Cohn had been the Chief of Production for MGM and was heavily involved in the making of The Wizard of Oz.  Lopez paid homage to his grandfather when he produced his first wine in 2003 by naming it after the brave character from the classic movie.  Production sits at around 2,000 cases and the average six-year appreciation for this wine sits at 80%.


Just missing out on the top spot is DominusOwned by Christian Mouiex of the famed Bordeaux wine merchant family and owners of Petrus, this is another example of French influence offering a helping hand.  Christian studied oenology at the University of California and fell in love with the region in the 1960s.  Famed for its minimalist stone winery at Napanook, the brand has demonstrated its power and finesse through consistent and long-lived, classic style wines.  We introduced a range of the very best vintages to our clients in May 2018 but keen collectors have been stocking up on Dominus for a few decades.  In recent years Dominus’ rate of growth has started to equal that of the region’s top performer, with a six-year appreciation of 93%.


Coming in at number one is the current reigning king of Californian wine, Screaming Eagle.  This highly collectable wine has been produced since 1992 from their Oakville winery in the Napa Valley.  Growing from initial annual production of around 200 cases, Screaming Eagle has changed hands and grown over the years and now produces around 800 cases per vintage.  Despite quadrupling their output, secondary market prices have remained high due to the collectable and iconic nature of the brand.  The current winemaker Nick Gislason has done a sterling job of keeping quality consistent and over the last six years, this wine has appreciated by 103% on average, a true jewel in the Californian wine crown.


Californian wine has been at the forefront of wine news over the last couple of years for many reasons – breaking auction sales records, consistent secondary market growth and, of course, the horrendous damage caused by annual wildfires.  The wine market has been broadening for several years now and one of the biggest land grabs has been the rapid rise of California’s share of trade by volume.  This has been matched by its price performance and is the reason why we have been recommending Californian wines as a worthwhile diversification for nearly a decade.

As the chart above shows, California’s top wines have outperformed Bordeaux by quite some margin.  This progress has reduced Bordeaux’s share of trade but this only reinforces our general outlook that a wine portfolio should be varied and represent as many of the world’s prestigious wine regions & brands as you can accommodate.  Regardless of the fantastic growth that these wines have shown, it’s still a sector of the market that is finding its feet globally and as a result, there remains ample opportunity to take positions at relatively affordable prices.

We believe that a healthy portfolio should have a good spread of regions.  Options will differ over what the ideal share should be depending on your financial plans and budget, but we are on hand to provide assistance interpreting the information or offer recommendations for balancing your portfolio.

California will continue to be an area of focus for us and our clients as we move into 2020.  If you would like to find out more about the opportunities with Californian wine, please get in touch and speak with your Portfolio Manager who will be happy to discuss wines that will fit your budget and complement your wider financial plans. 


Given the stark price difference between premium Italian & Burgundian wines it makes sense to sample what Italy has to offer, even if it means purchasing multiple cases to increase your return.


It’s no secret to us that Italian fine wine has been making great price movements in recent years but market statistics have recently placed Italy just behind Burgundy in terms of the growth it has delivered. As covered by various articles in both the trade, and regular press – Italian wine is somewhat of the market’s darling right now and its performance is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future.Even though the price of premium Italian wine on the secondary market trails far far behind that of top flight Burgundy, the price performance gap is closing. Over the last five years the Burgundy 150 index which tracks the price performance of Burgundy’s most tradeable wines, has grown by 97%. Over the same five year period Italy is the next best performer at 39%. To be fair, both statistics are appealing but if you compare the buy-in price of prime examples from both regions, Italy’s 39% comes at a much more cost effective level – a good Burgundy can cost considerably more per bottle than a top Tuscan example does per case.

You could take a position with a very good Super Tuscan wine for less than £1,000 but a similarly scored example from Burgundy could cost more than £10,000. Given the stark price difference between premium Italian & Burgundian wines it makes sense to sample what Italy has to offer, even if it means purchasing multiple cases to increase your return.


Italy’s market share has risen from 6% to 8% (over 2 years), a sign perhaps that the region’s potential is only now being discovered

Anthony Maxwell,
Liv-Ex Director, August 2019

None of the above is news to Cult & Boutique. We have been recommending top flight Italian wines regularly since 2013 and many clients that purchased Italian wines through us have seen good growth and sold at a profit. Here are a few historical examples:-

Although Tuscany dominates Italian trades, taking more than two thirds of total sales but this level of performance is not limited to the traditional go-to Super Tuscans. Other regions are also taking big strides – top wines from Piedmont have grown by more than 12% since December 2017 and trades in Piedmontese wines have risen by an astonishing 3,300% over the past ten years, with price performance year-to-date reaching 40%.


Other regions are also taking big strides – top wines from Piedmont have grown by more than 12% since December 2017


If you missed out on our previous Italian recommendations there is still time to act. We have an impressive range of Italian wines currently available, at varying price levels that allow us to cater for all budgets. Speak with your Portfolio Manager directly to discuss your options and find a wine that suits your budget, and also fits in with your wider investment strategy.

By Spencer Leat


I’ll never forget what the region went through October of 2017, there were multiple fires burning at the same time and going off in different directions. It was like living in a war zone

Jeff Bitter,
President of California’s Allied Grape Growers


It has almost become ‘the norm’ to hear about various wildfires breaking out in different locations annually around the world.  Of course the loss of human life, livestock, livelihood and property are heart breaking and the damage to the environment very concerning.  But there is another by-product of certain wildfires that could have an effect on your fine wine portfolio.California has suffered more than its fair share of wildfires in recent years, which has had a dramatic effect on the region’s ability to provide successive vintages of some of its most favoured wines.  The Californian wine industry is worth an estimated $114bn to the US economy and pays around £35bn in wages, not to mention $250bn of charitable contributions at the last count. So, any disruption to the big Californian wine machine could have huge knock-on implications.

The 2017 wildfires have proved particularly damaging, not only physically but also psychologically in the minds of consumers.  Only a fraction of the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon crop was directly affected by the fires and these were non-reserve grapes that would be destined for $60 – $80 bottles.  In fact, by the time the fires took hold around 90% of harvest had already been picked and stored from Napa and Sonoma growers.


At the recent Auction Napa Valley, we were able to connect with buyers and collectors from all over the world who are still concerned about the 2017 vintage.  There’s no way we wanted to compromise the brand we spent 25 years building and put out wine that might taste fine now, but could start exhibiting signs of smoke taint a year or more down the road. So we sold off about half of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in bulk. But at the Auction, we realized that collectors are still concerned.


Rich Frank,
Frank Family Vineyard


But direct fire damage is not the only concern on winemakers’ minds – grapes can also be affected by smoke taint, where smoke present in the air can be absorbed into the grapes themselves.  There is no definitive test for smoke taint and the majority of premium producers from affected regions have decided to pull entire vintages, in order to protect consumer confidence and reduce the risk of tarnishing their brand.  After all, wine develops over many years and a wine that tastes fine after a couple of years may go on to develop unwanted nuances of taste and aroma which would be catastrophic for many premium producers, who trade at heady prices based on the long held quality of their wine.

The fine wine investment market is a supply and demand environment and having most of the top producers from Napa and Sonoma reduce their supply to zero is bound to apply pressure on the overall supply and, in turn, put upward pressure on price as a growing number of consumers start to chase a dwindling number of bottles.  With climate change progressing and Californian wildfires becoming more frequent and widespread, it would be a good idea to consider taking a position in some of the unaffected vintages before demand pushes prices out of reach.


I got to the vineyard early on Monday morning [the first morning of the fires] and started tasting through the fruit. I knew right away it was gone

Nic Gislason,
Screaming Eagle


The upper tier of collectible Californian wines is already hard to break in to.  Most of the very best producers work with tightly controlled waiting lists, lasting for many years.  And if you dare to pass on a particular vintage release, you can be pushed to the back of the queue, just like snakes and ladders.  Working with Cult & Boutique is one way to gain access to some of these coveted wines, as our presence in the wine market allows us access to wines that otherwise would be out of the reach of most buyers.

Some of our recent Californian recommendations have performed well but you should always bear in mind that wine is a long term market that delivers the best returns over extended hold periods.  We will have to revisit these wines in five to ten years time to see what the full effect of the wildfires has been.

On a related note, if you are awaiting an allocation of Californian wine we have recently secured an impressive allocation of premium brands and will contact you soon with full details.  As always with this region, quantities will be minuscule so take what you can while it’s available.


According to the 2018 Knight Frank Wealth Report wine investments rose by 192% in the last decade.


When thinking about investing, most people only think about stocks, shares and other traditional services provided by banking and financial institutions. However, other types of investment are becoming increasingly more popular - cars, watches, art and wine are also investment options to invest your money and increase your profit.

Stocks are a well-known investment vehicle but due to high volatility you could lose your entire investment, as demonstrated during the 2007 financial crisis. Hence investing in stocks can be quite a high-risk choice. It demands in-depth research prior to each investment that will cost you more than a couple of hours, on top of the ongoing portfolio management. In addition, another disadvantage is that you will be competing with professionals such as Institutional Investors and professional traders that probably have a greater knowledge and more sophisticated tools and resources at their disposal. You should also bear in mind that if the company you chose to invest in goes bankrupt, stockholders are the last to be paid, in other words you will probably have to wait some time to receive your money, if  it does happen.

On the other hand, investing in alternative solutions could offer more stability and profit. As mentioned before, classic cars, vintage watches, art as well as fine wine are all alternative options to stocks. According to Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index from 2018(i) and 2019(ii), alternative or “passion” investments such as fine art, classic cars, watches, rare whisky and fine wine have been showing very strong growth in the last decade. Investments in wine has been as lucrative as art over both the last year, showing a growth of 9%. When compared to classic cars and watches, wine also showed better performance: 7% higher than cars and 4% higher than watches. However, rare whisky was the market leader last year showing 40% in annual growth. The Knight Frank Rare Whisky 100 Index (KFRW100), which contains 100 bottles of the world’s most desirable rare Scotch whisky and tracks UK auction prices, increased by almost 40% through 2018.

Taking a closer look at the fine wine investment market, according to Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index from 2018(iii), wine investments rose by 192% in the last decade and the most lucrative brands in this market have been rising in value since 2016 by 165% according to The Telegraph(iv). Demand for top Burgundies is stronger than ever, driven by the scant quantities produced in recent vintages. Sotheby’s October 2018 sale saw a single bottle of La Romanée-Conti 1945 fetch US$558,000(v). The sale highlighted the level of premium that the market is prepared to pay for impeccable provenance. Considered as a passion investment, it could become a lucrative hobby and more pleasurable to manage than traditional investments. Wine investment can also offer further advantages, such as

Low Levels of Risk and Stable Returns: It has been proven that when investing in wine, the returns are consistently higher when compared to traditional investments such as stocks, shares and commodities. The wine market has also been showing less volatility, as well offering comparatively lower levels of risk.

Physical Asset that Improves with Age: Fine Wines get better over time. This is another great characteristic of investing in fine wine. Your investment will not only improve with age but should consequently also rise in value. In addition, you have the possibility of investing in a particular vintage to mark a special occasion, such as the birth of a child or grandchild, wedding anniversaries or other landmark occasions.

A Tax Efficient Market: The tax efficiency of investing in wine is another great advantage that makes it even more attractive to invest in. Investing in wine doesn’t attract Capital Gains Tax since it is considered a wasting asset. You can also avoid paying VAT and Duty by storing your wine in a bonded warehouse. The Capital Gains Tax exemption is for UK residents and will depend on your tax status, for more detailed information we suggest you consult your tax advisor.

Positive Supply and Demand Correlation: Bordeaux and Burgundy are regarded as the blue-chip element of the fine wine market.  Due to tight controls and limited vineyard space, the quantity of wine produced by the best Chateaux is strictly limited. On the other hand, demand for these attractive wines continues to grow and tends to outweigh supply. This is a major driving force of the market and naturally pushes values upwards, which benefits investors.

Financial Securities: Your investment portfolio should have a mix of high-risk/reward and low risk/reward in order to minimize the overall risk of financial loss. Fine Wine investments are a perfect vehicle to diversify and protect against movements in traditional financial markets.

Support to Increase Your Knowledge: We provide a wealth of information and support to help create, monitor and manage your fine wine portfolio. In addition to our blog, we also provide up to date market information through a private online client portal and regular newsletters. You will have all the support needed to expand your wine market knowledge as well as your profits.

These are just some of the benefits you can enjoy when investing in fine wine. Apart from the obvious financial benefits, it is also a fun and exciting form of investment. For more information about the wine market contact us directly and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

If you are considering investing in fine wine the team here at Cult and Boutique are available to help on +44 20 8948 9430 with all you need to know about this market. For more information request our free wine investment guide.







The physical condition of stock is one of the biggest influences on a wine’s value


Our longer standing clients would have recently received storage invoices for 2018 and we thought we would take this opportunity to offer some detailed information on the quality of storage that we provide, the processes involved and the importance of good storage for fine wine.

We use the services of London City Bond’s Vinotheque facility in Burton-upon-Trent. Unlike many other bonded warehouses available, Vinotheque is dedicated to the storage of fine wines only, which offers a more mindful approach to handling and storage of your wine.

If you’re a stickler for security you should be impressed with the steps that are taken to protect your portfolio. Your wines are stored in a private reserve within our account, under your unique client reference and full name, so your wines are not deemed as part of Cult & Boutique or LCB’s assets. In addition to this, Vinotheque’s state of the art security system, which includes movement detectors, infrared beams, security cameras and a security guard, is also constantly monitored by an off-site specialist enabling LCB to deliver maximum security 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Vinotheque is a Grade II listed building constructed in the late 19th Century with metre-thick walls. This substantial foundation was built upon with the addition of a one million pound air conditioning system, described as unique within Europe and the most advanced air conditioning system within a warehouse. Together they create the perfect controlled environment for the long term storage and maturation of fine wine.

In addition to the bricks, mortar and hardware within, all staff at LCB Vinotheque are enrolled on to the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 1 course in order to increase thier expertise and enthusiasm for the role. Some members of staff have continued to expand thier knowledge and pursued this to diploma level – so with staff this knowledgeable and and professional, you can be sure your wine is in good hands.

Vinotheque provides the ideal storage conditons for fine wines. Temperature and humidity are maintained at a constant, suitable level with light and disturbance also kept to a minimum. The physical condition of stock is one of the biggest influences on a wine’s value, so it’s very important to ensure that variables such as temerature, humidity, light and vibration are kept under strict control and continuously monitored. Vinotheque also has a purpose-built photographic studio to provide full condition reports, including bottle/case photographs and fill-level assessment. Such reports are available on request and can help with the sale of your stock should the buyer have any questions regarding condition.

Vinotheque has also been a recipient on the Best Supply Chain Innovation Award in recognition of the investments they have made to create the perfect environment for fine wine maturation. The warehouse is linked in to London City Bond’s national transport network and through Cult & Boutique your wines are fully insured, both whilst in storage and in transit. LCB’s transport drivers are equipped with the latest EPod units which provide real-time electronic proof of delivery enabling us to track shipments to their destination and confirm safe delivery with our clients where neccessary.

We include five years of storage and insurance with every purchase you make, so you will not be asked to pay any additional storage fees until you have held your wines for longer than five years. Once your inclusive storage expires we charge annually in arrears. If you would like to sell your wine before any additiional storage fees are due, you should contact us before your inclusive storage expires allowing enough time to arrange and execute the sale of your wine. If you are unsure of timescales it would be advisable to keep in regular contact with your Portfolio Manager who will be able to discuss these matters with you and offer information specific to the wines you would like to sell.

By Spencer Leat

In this series we follow five examples from multiple regions and winemakers using historic financial data from liv-ex the largest online exchange for fine wines to demonstrate the financial gains achieved within a five year period.

One of Italy’s world renowned Super Tuscan wines, Marchesi Antinori’s Tignanello has shown some very impressive growth in recent years. Available for purchase in January 2014 for around £495 a case, the 2009 Tignanello grew in value by 9% the following year to reach a value of £540. The next year saw just £40 added to the value of a case but performance picked up over the next two years reaching a market value of £668, a 35% growth against the 2014 purchase price. As the secondary picked up, the gains continued and after a full five year hold the market value has reached £850 representing a 77.8% growth, or 15.5% CAGR over five years. With such an affordable unit price you should consider buying multiple cases in order to maximise your potential returns.

In this series we follow five examples from multiple regions and winemakers using historic financial data from liv-ex the largest online exchange for fine wines to demonstrate the financial gains achieved within a five year period.

Rarity can be one of the biggest driving forces in the wine market and from this perspective, Chave’s Cuvee Cathelin fits the bill. Only produced in outstanding vintages, this single vineyard Northern Rhone Hermitage could be bought for around £25,800 in January 2014. And its financial growth has been fairly linear ever since.

The first year’s hold would have delivered you 21% growth taking its value to £31,200 and by the end of year two growth against purchase price would have stood at an impressive 48%.

Prices in the third year dipped back down, which isn’t out of the ordinary for fine wine but, as scarcity began to take effect, it recovered and by the end of the fourth year reached a value of £55,092 – a growth of 114%. Today a case of this wine will set you back around £70,000, if you can find it, which would be a financial growth of 171%, or 34.24% CAGR.

In this series we follow five examples from multiple regions and winemakers using historic financial data from liv-ex the largest online exchange for fine wines to demonstrate the financial gains achieved within a five year period.

This wine from the famous Napa Valley in California has been a great diversification for those looking to see what the new world has to offer. In January 2014 a case would have set you back just £1,620 but don’t be fooled by the comparatively low entry price. One year into a five year hold its value had risen by 18% to £1,910 and by year three it had grown by 85% to a value of £3,000. Performance over the following two years slowed but today’s value of £3,170 represents a growth of 95.7% over five years, or 19.1% CAGR. With this type of performance you could consider acquiring multiple cases to increase your returns and gain more flexibility when you sell.