Thought leadership  

07/06/2017

Rethinking wine – the next generation of collectors

Wine_Intranet-M.jpg

According to the International Wine and Spirits Research1 (IWSR) and Vinexpo, global wine consumption is set to rise by 1.4% between 2015 and 2018. Whilst the US charts at number one as the world’s top consumer of wine, millennials’ changing tastes and preference for beer and spirits are due to temporarily slow down growth — whilst in China and Hong Kong the opposite is predicted. A younger generation of consumers see wine as ‘new’ and are helping to shape a burgeoning wine culture and industry.

It might come also come as a surprise to learn that the UK is set to overtake France to claim the number two spot as the world’s second largest still wine market in 2018, due to growth of the ‘premium’ category — wines falling between the £7 and £14 mark.

It is clear that habits are changing when it comes to buying, experiencing and acquiring wine. We explore what motivates a new generation of wine collectors, and how collecting wine is changing in the modern day.

 

Geordie WillisWine_GeordieWillis_300.jpg
Creative Director, Berry Bros. & Rudd

What do you think motivates people to collect wine?
I’m always a little suspicious of people whose motivation for starting a cellar isn’t a love of wine. Whether you are buying for future drinking or for investment, my advice would always be to buy wines that you can imagine yourself enjoying in years to come. At its best, wine can be a catalyst for creative thinking – but only if you open the bottle.

Do you think there is a new generation of wine collectors emerging?
I think attitudes to wine are continually changing and that is exactly what makes it exciting. Twenty-five years ago, our customers at Berry Bros. & Rudd were a pretty traditional bunch, mainly interested in Claret and Burgundy. The new generation of wine consumer is more open-minded. I was based in Hong Kong for several years and it was fascinating to witness the evolution of an emerging market. Initially I met a lot of collectors who were more interested in the ‘points’ that a wine had earned rather than what was in the bottle, but this began to change rapidly in the time I was there. The speed of learning was quite astonishing.

Tell us about the story behind one of your favourite wines…
My grandfather started a cellar for me when I was a child and stocked it with six bottles of a 1982 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste from Pauillac in Bordeaux. It was the wine that started my collection and sadly I enjoyed the last bottle in 2012, a few days before leaving Hong Kong where I’d been living for four years. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a glass a few weeks ago at Noble Rot in London. It immediately took me back to the last time I tasted it; wine can be wonderfully evocative like that.



Wine_DrMichaelSutherlands_300.jpgDr Michael Sutherland
Lecturer in Physics, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

Why do you choose to collect wine?!
For me, my collection is a memory bank. There are wines that I have bought on visits to vineyards in France, Italy and back home in Canada, or that I have enjoyed with friends at a restaurant or at wine tastings. I like the idea of being able to open a bottle and have an immediate connection with the past.

 

Each of the colleges within Cambridge University have their own wine cellar. What role does wine play within the academic institution?
Communal dining is a huge part of the culture of the colleges, a tradition that stretches back centuries. Both students and dons from all over the world regularly share meals (and a glass or two of wine), exchanging ideas and learning from one another. Many colleges also cellar wines for private dinners, the income from which helps to fund the education of the next generation of students. So in the Cambridge context, maintaining a good wine cellar is not necessarily about wealth or status, but about providing the means by which further academic discourse is conducted.

Tell us about the story behind one of your favourite wines…
One of the great dining traditions, still practiced in some of the Cambridge colleges, is ‘combination’ – retiring after dinner for conversation, cheese and dessert wine. Port often makes an appearance, and I have happy memories of staying up into the small hours discussing everything from quantum physics to the flora and fauna of Crete. Here I once tasted a 1963 Fonseca LBV, a bottle I have since gone to great lengths to source, which I’m saving for when I’m a little greyer.



Maxime Debure
Founder, WineFunding

What do you think motivates people to invest in wine?
Investing in wine has a different “flavour” compared to other types of investments such as stocks or real estate. Wine investors typically have an interest or a passion for the product, as wine connoisseurs and for the lifestyle around wine. However, I believe investors should not only analyse investment opportunities based on beautiful pictures of the vineyard or proclaimed quality of the wine, but consider carefully the more rational and classic investment criteria. We strive to select investment opportunities that are as secure as possible and structure them in a balanced way between the winery receiving the funds and the wine investor feeling confident in their decisions. Investment criteria for wineries include having clean past balance sheets, a reasonable liquidity timeframe (5-10 years) and a fair asset valuation of the vineyard, land and building, which we conduct via an independent third party expert.

WineFunding is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to own a stake in French wine domains. Do you think there is a demand from a younger generation to invest or engage with wine in a non-traditional way?
Yes I do, and this is the reason I started WineFunding. When I was working in management consulting and private equity, many of my colleagues, partners or clients were wine amateurs. Often, they would ask me if I had some good wine investment advice as they knew I was previously a winemaker and director of wine companies. They were already buying wine “en primeur” every year but they were looking to be more deeply involved in the wine industry. However, they did not have millions to invest, nor were they prepared to quit their job, so taking over and running a wine estate was not an option. Like many executives, they have a good salary and want to use some of it to be part of the adventure of wine. In the case of equity investment, we warn the investor that when investing in shares of an unlisted company, there is a possibility that he may lose part or all of his/her investment. This is why a well-structured shareholder agreement and a strict selection process have been put in place. In the case of debt, we use bonds or mini-bonds, which can have a higher yield (6-10%) to compensate for the higher risk than government bonds. However we always look for collateral and guarantees to reduce the risk of default.

Can you tell us more about one particular wine in your collection?
The 1978 Santa Rita from Chile. It was given to me by Don Pablo during my internship in his wine estate south of Santiago. We were in his personal cellar when he asked me my date of birth, and gave me a bottle from my birth year. He was a senior entrepreneur and pioneer in the Chilean wine industry who helped put Chile on the world wine map. I have great memories from my stays in Chile and have kept strong ties with good friends. It might not be the best wine in my cellar, but it was given to me at the very beginning of my career and confirmed my passion for this amazing product, the fantastic people involved and the adventures that have followed.



Rebecca GoodallWine_RebeccaGoodall_300.jpg
Wine Director, Hawksmoor Restaurant Group

What do you think motivates people to collect wine?
Some people like to invest in higher-priced wines, unearth rarities from sought-after producers, buy bottles young to watch their character develop over the years, or simply because a certain vineyard won them over with its charm. Personally, I collect for two reasons: for my restaurants, I want to both satisfy and challenge my customers, many of whom travel from all corners of the world to dine and drink with us. For my own collection, my only desire is to share them with wonderful friends.


What are the benefits of Hawksmoor as a restaurant cellaring their own fine wine collection?
Each Hawksmoor restaurant has its own cellar, mostly for service but always with a space for long-term storage. Our customer base is international and our ‘bring your own’ Mondays attract a lot of wine collectors who have become regulars over time, and it’s not uncommon for us to store some of their personal bottles, just in case they pop in one afternoon.

Tell us about the story behind one of your favourite wines…
Jean Foillard, Morgon, Côte du Puy, 2000 is one of those wines that is so distinct that I can recognise it immediately. To anyone who thinks Beaujolais doesn’t age, take a trip to Jean Foillard’s winery and see if you can get some of this vintage. 17 years on and it is still as vibrant and elegant as the day it was bottled.

 


https://www.forbes.com/international/#6fd3250260c6

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