Robuchon and Magrez to form an epic union

Posted by on July 09, 2013
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Multi-Michelin starred chef, Joël Robuchon has publicised plans to launch a 50- seat restaurant in collaboration with French wine tycoon Bernard Magrez by early next year.

This is an impressive union, Bernard Magrez’s Bordeaux portfolio includes Château Pape Clement,  Château Fombrauge, Château La Tour Carnet, and the Sauternes premier cru classé Clos Haut-Peyraguey. Robuchon is holder of 26 Michelin stars, as well as a world-wide restaurant empire.

The French national newspaper LE Figaro, reported that the new restaurant will be built apposite to L’Institut Culterel Bernard Magrez, an arts and culture centre that the Magrez founded in 2010.

The cuisine will be Bordelais focused, Robuchon told Le Figaro that “In particular, I’m thinking of cooking dishes [on a fire] using vine cuttings. I recently tasted a paella cooked in this way and it was sumptuous”.

The restaurant, which will include seven hotel suites is due to open in January 2014.


China’s anti-dumping inquiry unlikely to dissuade consumers

Posted by on July 09, 2013
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China’s anti-dumping investigation is unlikely to discourage Chinese consumers and domestic producers from buying European wines.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce officially launched its anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against EU wine imports, last week on the 1st of July.  Making the announcement that that they will be evaluating the ‘damage’ that these measures have inflicted on the Chinese wine industry between 2009-2012.

According to Guangzhou Daily, after the anti-dumping investigation has been submitted, there will be a period of six months to a year before the preliminary ruling is defined.

The investigation has received robust support from The China Alcoholic Drinks Industry Association, who had submitted the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy applications on behalf of the domestic wine industry.

They are of the belief that it is central to safeguarding the interests of the domestic industry, as well as protecting the rights of local producers.

The association proclaims that the China’s wine industry has always operated within a market environment that had ‘healthy and orderly competition’.

However, the domestic market has been greatly threatened and impacted in recent years, due to the EU wine import volumes experiencing a significant increases of 67.61% per year between 2008-2011, and market shares that soared from 4.94% in 2008 to 14.32% in 2011.

Conversely, some domestic wine organisations have voiced suspicion towards the real benefits of the investigation, declaring that the investigation would not discourage wine consumers in China from purchasing EU wines.

An importer remarked that the majority of vines planted in China are suited only for table-grape production, and wine grapes are short in supply.

He stated that ‘many local producers simply purchase their base wines from within the EU and then bottle it as their own product’. Increasing the tax on EU wine imports would definitely increase the cost burdens on them.


Italy cracks down on inebriated gondoliers and appoints “Prosecco policemen”

Posted by on July 09, 2013
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Venice’s iconic gondoliers are facing alcohol and drug tests as their increasingly drunken behaviour has been exposed to the police. This was triggered by a number of complaints lodged against the gondoliers.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the tip of the iceberg, involved an incident whereby an aspiring gondoliers’ assistant underwent a “hazing” ceremony, which involved him having to jump naked into the Grand Canal.

City councillors condemned the act as “despicable” and said in a statement: “Gondoliers represent our city in the world and must therefore respect historical and traditional values, as well as human dignity.”

Ironically the president of the gondoliers’ association, Nicola Falconi, acted conversely, requesting the drug and alcohol testing however.

He told the news agency, Ansa: “Given that unruly behaviour is on the increase, I’m proposing tests, which would be conducted without warning.

“We don’t yet know if it’s practicable but we at least need to try to tackle this growing problem.”

Additionally, the Italian government has apparently elected a young oenology graduate to act as a “Prosecco policeman”.

Andrea Battistella, who has been heralded “007 Prosecco” by the Italian media, has been tasked with cracking down on fake Proseccos by the ministry of agriculture and to ensure it is always served from the bottle rather than from a tap or decanter.

Offenders face a potential fine of €20,000.


Experts predict that India’s government tax reductions on wine imports will have little effect

Posted by on July 09, 2013
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Experts have hypothesised that potential price slashes on European wine imports enforced by India’s government, will have little overall effect, as states will ultimately devise their own taxes.
The federal government in India has motioned that a decrease of wine import taxes from 150% to 40% may take place.

The state laws on wine are a hindrance to the entire industry, even wine producers. To further this, when national government lowers taxes, state governments often raise them.

Whilst India with its epic population of over one billion has a rapidly expanding market for wine, indicated by the rising sales of 30% a year during the next three years, a report carried out by the Indian office of French trade promotions body Ubifrance outlines the prominent hurdles faced. Namely, high import taxes and varying rates of additional state taxes, India’s nascent and protectionist domestic wine industry, and the array of different labelling rules specific to each state.

Sommelier Magandeep Singh also outlined the issue of state versus national taxes. ‘The last time [national] duties came down, states made some super-golden hay by increasing the excise taxes. These state levies vary from state to state, ranging from 60% of [the landed price] value plus importer’s margin in Delhi to an inexplicably alarming 170% in Andhra Pradesh.’

In 2012, France was the leading wine exporter to India, accounting for  €7.3m, and total wine imports totalling €19.4m,  Ubifrance said.
European Union negotiators have recently rejected a recent offer by India to lower wine import taxes to 40%, stating that taxes of 30% were the highest they could accept.


Private Client Portfolio Manager

Posted by on July 05, 2013
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£35-45k 1st Year OTE / £60K-80k 2nd Year OTE

Cult Wines are one of the UK’s leading fine wine specialists providing private client portfolio and investment services to an international client base.

We are looking for exceptional sales people with existing experience within either the wine trade or financial markets to join our Sales team

This diverse and challenging role will require the applicant to drive sales through effective account development with both prospective and existing clients within a global marketplace. Responsibilities include demonstrating to prospective clients the benefits of investing in wine and the subsequent selection and management of a profitable wine portfolio.

The successful applicant will be responsible for developing and managing their own client accounts. As such they will need to be confident, have an excellent command of the English Language, and be focused target driven individuals. The role will require strong organisational skills & IT literacy and be able to work well within a small team. Further to this effective communication skills whether by email, phone or in person are a necessity.

Candidates who can demonstrate the following are of particular interest;

  • Bilingual (English & Mandarin)
  • WSET Qualifications and/or excellent knowledge of fine wine
  • Wine Industry Experience

The role is based at our UK head office in Richmond, South West London and you should therefore live within an easily commutable distance.

If you are interested in applying for this role, please send a brief email introducing yourself and a copy of your CV to

Graduate Career Opportunities

Posted by on July 05, 2013
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Start a sales career with Cult Wines and be part of an exciting, innovative and rapidly expanding business.

Cult Wines are one of the UK’s leading fine wine specialists providing private client portfolio and investment services to an international client base.

We are always looking to recruit talented individuals who have a strong work ethic and are keen to develop a sales career in this unique market.

One of our objectives as a business has been the recruitment and development of graduates as an integral part of our small but highly effective and specialised team. We offer excellent career development through our market leading in-house training and development, and are always interested in hearing from individuals who would like to join our team.

If you believe you have something to offer the company, please do get in contact by emailing us a copy of your CV and explain what you can bring us as an individual and why you’re interested in joining Cult Wines.

All applications will be reviewed in complete confidence.

Send any CV’s and covering letters to - We look forward to hearing from you!


Posted by on July 02, 2013
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Dear Investors,

In a month when there was wider financial market uncertainty, a standoff between China and the EU over solar panels and wine imports and a continued fall in the price of Gold – wine managed to hold pretty steady in comparison. This time last year, the disastrous 2011 en primeur campaign put paid to the first quarter gains as stock holders were forced into a sell-off to provide capital for EP allocations that weren’t selling. Many could be forgiven for expecting the same to happen this year, but in the month when one would expect the most damage to be done, it was in fact markedly flat and that’s a good thing considering how the financial markets in general have been behaving.

It seems that the sell-off that encompassed the general wine market last year, has only really affected the 2010 vintage this year. With stock of the 2010s still available in good enough quantities in Bordeaux a lot of the market plays this month have been in the sale of these wines to support the EP2012 campaign. As a result we have seen prices soften a little for the top 2010’s. Pontet Canet for example, despite being a double hundred wine (Parker & Suckling) has fallen to c. £1,525 per 12 from a high post-Parker scores in March of £1,650. This can be seen with Montrose, Pichon Baron, Pape Clement and Lafite to name a few. The good thing to take out of this, is the drops aren’t that significant and with the 2010’s long term investment potential assured it actually signals to us a strong buy play for those interested in picking up top quality stock. Furthermore, with their being a small number of genuine good buys from the 2012 vintage this year such as Lafite, Mouton, Pape Clement, La Mondotte, Lynch Bages, Rauzan Segla, Gazin – estates that priced their wines attractively – a repetition of last year hasn’t been forthcoming.

Elsewhere in June, there has been greater market focus on the 2003’s ahead of Parker’s annual 10 year Bordeaux retrospective that will see him re-score a lot of the top wines. This lead us to focus on Montrose 03 which is currently scored 97+, but has been scored 100 pts unofficially by Parker twice and 99 pts once, in his publication the ‘hedonists gazette’ over the past 5 years. This has lead us to believe it could be in line for an upgrade next month and if scored the ‘magical’ 100 – it will place it on the same level as the 2009 (£2,450) and 1990 (£5,250). Other top 2003’s worth looking out for are Pavie (98+), Leoville Barton (95+), Mouton (95 +), Petrus (95 +), Pichon Baron (94+) which were all scored with a plus point indicate they could be due an upgrade. Outside of these, perennial favourite Pontet Canet which Parker described as ‘One of the great successes of the vintage and certainly one of the most profound Pontet-Canets made over the last decade is the 2003’ could score favourably and following the Saint Emilion re-classification Angelus 03 could be one to watch.

Auction results over the month continue to point at increasing demand and interest from buyers for the premium vintages of mature first growth. Rare Burgundy has been leading the way in auction results over the past 24 months and continues to do well, but rare Bordeaux has seen renewed demand in 2013. Petrus, Lafite and Latour from the historic 1982 vintage have sold consistently over-estimate as have iconic vintages for Mouton (1986) and Haut Brion (1989).

Heading into the second half of 2013, again we find the wine market in an interesting position where it’s quite difficult to predict precisely where it will be headed. There are both positives and negatives to consider that would leave most bulls and bears sitting on the proverbial fence.

For the bulls, positive growth of 5% Year to date, with increased trade and a resilient market in the face of a potential sell-off following the 2012 campaign show that the wine market is in good health, and any short term softening represent good buy opportunities.

For the bears, the uncertainty of a China/EU trade dispute that could impact wine imports, as well as a lacklustre 2012 campaign and a potential stock-sell off looming suggest prices will soften.

As always though, with wine being a mid-long term investment, any potential short term volatility should be considered within this context and with positive data recently being published for fellow alternatives art and classic cars, as well as a growing number of millionaires in the Far East, one could expect this to be replicated in wine over a longer term horizon.

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‘Indian Wine Market and Industry’ by Dimple Athavia:

Posted by on June 24, 2013
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The Indian Wine Market is in its early stages of growth. The country has been stated as a potential emerging wine market for domestic wine production as well as imported wines. However, Wines in India are highly price sensitive products and hence affect the consumer’s purchasing behaviour.

Wine consumption in India can be divided among the different socio- economic classes, such as upper class, upper middle class and middle class. Due to various reasons, less than 1% of the population of upper/middle classes are possible imported wine consumers. Foreigners in India and Indians who have travelled in wine consuming countries abroad form a significant group of wine consumers. Labels with the words Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundies are recognized by wine drinkers as regions in France which produce higher quality, expensive wines. However, due to the lack of availability and knowledge about these wines, consumers are unaware of the Chateaux names or their Growth Classifications viz. 1st, 2nd growths in Bordeaux. In cheaper markets; Spanish, Italian, Australian, Argentinean, Chilean and South African wines seem to have found their place. These International wines are priced half or twice as much as the domestic wines. Indians have a sweet tooth and prefer slightly sweet to lusciously sweet wines as they go well with the spicy and aromatic Indian food. Men seem more fascinated by red wines while women are comfortable with whites and roses.

The biggest consumption of wine (up to 80%) is confined to the major cities, of which the largest are Mumbai (39%), Delhi (23%), Bangalore (9%) and the foreign tourist dominated market of Goa (9%). Majority of affordable quality wines are found in restaurants and cafes in the cities and some rare wine shops. Recently, wines have been allowed to be sold as beverages in selective supermarkets. The supermarkets such as Westside Gourmet, Reliance, Big bazaar, Dolce Vita and many more try to have a respectable mix of domestic and imported wines. Majority of the imported wines found in Restaurants or wine shops tend to be big international companies such as Gallo, Yellow Tail, Oxford Landing, Wolf Bass, Moet & Chandon, Frexienet and many more. Importers struggle to find a market for smaller wineries producing quality wines and a range of grape varieties. The concept of online shopping for wines has not quite been accepted yet, however, online wine companies such as and Brindco seem to be doing well in getting more and more customers interested.

Advertising Wines via use of Television, mass media, street billboard or newspapers is inadmissible. Creating awareness requires various creative strategies which need to be lucratively targeted towards the upper/middle classes. Financial as well as marketing support is required from the International Wine companies, who would be interested in a durable position in the Indian Wine Market, for educating the consumers as well as the agent/distributors and funding promotional activities.

The Wine producing regions in India are the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh. Maharashtra produces more than 90% of all the wine made in India. The major grape growing regions in Maharashtra are Nashik, Sangli, Pune and Satara with a total of 64 wineries in the state. Karnataka is home to the leading domestic brand Grover Vineyards. Most of the domestic wine is consumed in India; however, small quantities are imported to UK, France, USA, Canada, Singapore and a few other Asian Markets.



Producing wine in India can be very expensive. Not only is the agricultural land pricey, the wine making machinery and equipment has to be imported from Europe and the import duties on these machineries are very steep. French and American barrels have to be imported since there is no wine industry specific cooperage. Sometimes basic wine making chemicals and micro organisms (yeast, malo bacteria) strains also need to be bought from foreign lands. All this makes domestic wines to be highly priced once they reach the market and hence has an acute contest with the cheaper imported labels.

Duties/ Taxes and Market Sector for Imported Wines

There are 27 states and 7 Union territories in India and states such as Gujarat allow no sale of alcohol at all; while Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh allow no sale of imported liquor to protect their domestic market. Only States such as Punjab, Haryana, New Delhi, Maharashtra, Goa, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala are allowed sales of imported wines in Retail Sector.

Tax structure and duties imposed on Wines play a major negative role in advancement of the Indian Wine Industry. Buying and selling of imported wines is a complex and expensive procedure. The Government of India (central government) charges import levy and the State government charges additional taxes. These State taxes vary for every state and hence the permits and paperwork, labelling laws, registration fees etc. Furthermore, these taxes/laws are subject to fluctuation regularly. This limits the sales of wines between different states, restricting the availability of miscellaneous labels.

Hospitality sector of 5star Hotels and sumptuous restaurants buy 60% of the imported Wines. These 4 and 5 star hotels have the advantage of buying imported wines without paying taxes on their duty free licence. Importing wine directly from the Wine producers/wineries is logistically obscure and thus, these Hotels source their wines from importers and distributors. This makes it impossible to find a diverse range of wines from smaller producers and from different parts of the world even in the best of the Hotels. Retail sector accounts sales of 35-40% of imported wines which include wine shops and supermarkets. The sales of imported wines in India are controlled by individual state laws and regulations.


Reducing basic import duty (150%) would be extremely beneficial for the imported wines market in India. There is a considerable market for cheaper wines from the world and this would also provide a big boost in wine education and appreciation within the consumers. Domestic wines struggle to find their place in the highly price sensitive Indian market and have to constantly compete with the International labels. Domestic producers also have to pay the state taxes and adhere to the erratic regulation and registration fees limiting their exposure to the various states and hence also competing against other domestic producers. Putatively speaking, domestic producers would agree that they would suffer badly from any reduction in import taxes. Reformation of state laws and taxes would be beneficial and hassle free for sales of domestic as well as imported wines.

The biggest challenges faced by the Indian Wine industry are the complex tax structure, state-run variable laws and regulations and prices of domestic wines leading to competition. Indian Winemaker Kailash Gurnani from York Winery in Nashik says “Lack of knowledge of wine to the Indian consumer, affordability of wine, overhead costs in the distribution and retail channel due to demand of high schemes, different alcohol norms in different states, lack of support from restaurant and retail owners to push wine; are the major obstacles faced by the Indian Wine Industry”. Solution to these issues will improve the wine availability and diversity which will in turn open a bigger market to the wine consumers and help increase their knowledge and interest in the Wine World.

About the author:

Dimple Athavia is from Mumbai, India. She is a traveling winemaker who studied Bsc (Hons) Viticulture & Oenology  at the University of Brighton, Plumpton College UK.

She has completed wine making vintages in France, Cyprus, UK and New Zealand. As well as working in production and business areas for 3 wineries in India, namely: Viz. Sula, Grovers and Vallonne. She is about to begin studying Msc in International Retail Management at the University of Brighton, and has plans to work in the Wine Business in Singapore.


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Trade dispute between EU and China cools down:

Posted by on June 24, 2013
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The threat of retaliatory controls on French wine imports to China appears to have lessened, with the Ministry of Commerce signalling that it has not yet begun looking at the possibility of a new anti-dumping tax.

There were fears that the new tax could be imposed as early as 5 August, this was triggered by a European tax on Chinese solar panels. Creating a situation that was alarming to say the least, considering that China is one of the main buyers of French wines, particularly high-end Bordeaux.

However, recent information suggests that any new tax would take at least 8 months to take effect, and would be more in the region of 10%, rather than the sometimes-quoted 40%.

Dr John Yong Ren, Beijing commercial lawyer told, that China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) is still at preliminary stages of talking to European authorities, and has not yet begun its investigation into tax options.

‘If they begin the investigation in July or August it would still take eight months for a preliminary decision to be made and a further four months for a final decision,’ said Ren. He said that until the eight-month preliminary decision is released, no new tax could be imposed.

‘It’s basically good news,’ said John Watkins CEO of China’s largest value imorter, ASC Fine Wines.

‘In any given year, European wines represent approximately two-thirds of our wine sales in China, thus ASC takes the current situation very seriously,’ he said.

He added that ASC ‘is in close communication with all relevant parties, including our European winery supplier partners, legal counsel, trade associations and government agencies.’

Watkins said he would be observing the situation and considering the current understanding of the situation, ASC ‘did not plan to increase or accelerate our shipments of European wines to China,’ but, that he was ready to do so as needed.


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Wines of Brazil aims to double value exports between 2012 and 2016:

Posted by on June 24, 2013
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The Brazilian wine institute Ibravin, have revealed figures showing that total wine exports were worth US$4.38 million, with a predicted increase of $5.3m in 2013. Additionally, volume exports increased by 23%.

Wines of Brazil have stated that the aim is to increase exports from the current figure of 3% up to 20% by 2025, to markets in China, the UK, US, Scandinavia, Canada and Germany.

This has been spurred on via the attention generated by Brazil’s role as host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

“In the first part of 2013 we have seen more than double the number of buyers visiting than in the whole of last year,” stated Wines of Brasil export manager Andreia Milan. “They are convinced that Brazil can be good business for them.”

The largest wine and spirit distributor in the US, Southern Wines & Spirits, have also closed an important deal.

The most prominent growth has come from China, which, despite importing virtually no wine at all from Brazil as recently as 2010, last year became the country’s largest export market for bottled wine.

As well as representing export value growth of 66% in 2012, China has of the highest average prices per litre for Brazilian wine exports of $8.49. Whereas, the UK figure last year was $4.23, and Canada, significantly higher at $10.08.

Whilst the majority of the 40 wineries who currently participate in the Wines of Brazil programme have acquired importers, Milan commented that around 100 of the country’s estimated 1,000 producers are primarily producing premium bottled wine.


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