The Wine You Keep

This article is ridiculous –  Wall Street Journal (requires a subscription, so I put a clipping at the end) the WSJ has the most interesting articles on wine. Anyhow, check out the bottom article ‘man buys $700,000.00 of wine in one shot’, basically for anyone in today’s society, if they save a little bit of money or live close to China-Town, almost anyone can get their hands on designer labels. In fact you can get lookalikes that are as good aesthetically as the real things, from Rolex to Tag Heuer, Diesel to Armani, designer labels don’t command the respect they used to. My friend who works for a Hedge Fund in (he’s the one I drank WSJ Article Zinfandel with in Central Park) says that most of the hedge fund managers (these guys are like 26, they worked for Goldman Sachs or Lehman Group for 4 years after going to Wharton, and then started managing their own funds, they’re all , intelligent, self-made and loaded and 3 years away from being 30) don’t use any brands. Its all about going back to the roots, they purchase antique solid gold watches and get their furniture at Sotheby’s.Capitalism has made luxury brands so accessible, that the only thing left for people to do if they want to stand above is to go backwards. These guys are looking for unique and rare… and they’re not a minority. Practically any male or female over 25 with a graduate degree in commerce (usually capped by an MBA) that works in LA, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta or Boston fit into the group. You don’t need any knowledge to purchase a , you just need to be a sucker for advertising on the front pages of any glossy. Designer brands are passe. Wine is the new bling. Not only wine, but truffle oil from Piedmont, Beluga Caviar, Oysters, Champagne, custom made Italian shirts (Sandy reckons that the market for bespoke tailoring in New York has shot up, and instead of going to Brooks Brothers for a $200.00 shirt, one can get a custom fit shirt made for $220.00, which a lot of people are opting for.)

Whilst I was in New York we had a really good friend who wasa graduate of Sotheby’s School in London. His parents are one of the wealthiest antique dealers owners in Brooklyn and once a week they hold educational sessions, where they talk about antiques (whilst serving expensive canapés and champagne) and 85% of the people who attend the evenings are under 30.

Hip Hop soon caught onto old-man WASP brands that no one ever thought the market would be attracted to. Now Hennessey, Courvoisier, Aston Martin, Polo and Brooks Brothers are falling onto themselves for this business. However, it takes no sophistication to purchase an expensive brandy; or to own an expensive suit, all it takes is an Amex or a Mastercard higher than silver on the colour scale. Wine on the other hand requires a lot more, it requires scholarship, an epicurean nature, an interest in history and geography, a passion for fine food and an appreciation of art.

No one wants to act like an amateur and the only way to avoid it is to elevate oneself to the position where they can differentiate between blatant branding and false equity from real value based on craftsmanship and tradition. A collection of wine is like a book-case. It tells a story not only about the life someone leads, but it speaks of what he has done at the same time that it alludes what he will still do. A cellar is the unification of a man’s past, his present and future. Just like you can judge a man by his friends, you can also know his life from the wine he keeps.Copy of Article Below

‘Just Send It’

For vendors, those empty shelves spell opportunity. In Los Angeles, retailer Wally’s Wine & Spirits began providing prefab collections as props for Hollywood studio shoots more than a decade ago, and now it fills a couple instant-collection requests a month, from $5,000 apiece to more than $1 million. The Wine Club, a warehouse-style store in Orange County, Calif., says overnight-collection buyers accounted for about 2.5% of its $40 million in revenue in 2006. At New York’s Sherry-Lehmann four years ago, a client fresh from a remodeling job asked for help filling his new wine room. “I put together a proposal for 400 cases of wine, anticipating him to say, ‘I’ll take this or that,'” says company chairman Michael Aaron. “Instead, he says, ‘I got the list. It looks good. Just send it.” The $700,000 tab remains the retailer’s largest instant-collection sale, Mr. Aaron says, but now the company says it fills about three turnkey-cellar orders each month.

Michael Lorber, a 27-year-old principal of a real estate agency, likes to buy wines gradually for the 400-bottle cellar in his New York apartment. But he took the express track for his new one-bedroom piede-terre in Boston, where he plans to entertain friends and business associates in a wine-bar area off his open kitchen. “Considering I’m only there two days a week, I can’t keep on top of it,” says Mr. Lorber. He spent a couple hours with a personal shopper at Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors, a chain in the Boston suburbs, spending $3,000 for 40 bottles, including Caymus from California, Bollinger champagne, Montrachet from Burgundy and some sweet French Chateau d’Yquem. “I completely stocked up,” he says.

Instant stashes have their detractors. Wine experts say the collections tend to be less diverse than those gathered over time because buyers are limited by what’s in stores or at auctions. Thanks to a recent collecting boom, the most desirable bottles have become pricier at retailers and auctions, while many bottles in stores now either won’t improve markedly with age or won’t be ready to drink for years. Simon Lambert, a senior sales manager at The Chicago Wine Company, a retailer that holds a monthly auction, says overnight buyers are practically guaranteed a sub-par mix. “At a one-stop shop,” he says, “it’s virtually impossible to get a good, well-balanced collection.”

Long-time oenophiles also don’t relish extra competition for already-pricey bottles, particularly from collectors who might not know their Domaine de la Romane-Conti from a Beaujolais Nouveau. It’s also, some say, an example of people buying the trappings of wealth. “It’s not that these people want to be considered , they want to be considered connoisseurs,” says Sharon Zukin, a sociologist at City University of New York who studies consumer culture. “It’s similar to buying books by the foot.”

Not all the new owners are depleting global stocks of Chateau Latour. Two months ago, Kurt Manley, 44 and his wife, Sara, 30, issued a challenge to wine store co-owner Kristen Kowalski: Their new house has a cellar with a vaulted ceiling and 18th-century French monastery floor tiles, and they had a week to fill it with 700 bottles, in time to host a fund-raiser for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “He was really complimentary,” says Mr. Manley, a real estate developer in Eagan, Minn.

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