Tired of having their bottles resold at exorbitant prices on auction sites, winemakers of prestigious appellations are now using tracking technologies for control and image reasons.
It has been a while since the virtual entered the world of wine. After Covid, there are also “virtual wine fairs” which offer remote tastings of mini-samples of 2 to 4 centilitres, allowing trade to be maintained while discussing via interposed screens. Gradually, at all stages of marketing, start-ups are gnawing away at shares in this traditionally “daddy’s” business, carried on in a family spirit.
One of the most astounding technology initiatives involves the quota system, which often frustrates wealthy collectors, surprised to be denied what they want. In summary: the winemakers of prestigious appellations produce a limited amount of wine each year, which means that bottles are reserved very soon for regular customers, restaurateurs, wine merchants and friends. Speculation, which some sites such as Idealwine specialize in, allows collectors to buy bottles put back on the market when restaurants close, collectors die or choose to lighten their cellars during their lifetime. This gray market penalizes winegrowers and enriches speculators.
“A real transparency problem”
To deal with this, a technological solution called “Crurated” arrived to disrupt the market in the spring. “We really felt there was a need for a change in this area“says Alfonso de Gaetano, a Neapolitan engineer based in Dubai, a wine lover, who has worked extensively for Google. Founder of Crurated, he’s felt the tide turn: “Before, distribution took place in a very traditional way, and there was a lot of anger: on the one hand the consumers who couldn’t get the bottles, and on the other the producers who saw that the money was going into the hands of speculators. Furthermore, c ‘there’s a real transparency issue about how wines are bought and resold in salesrooms and auction sites. Warning: To do business with Crurated, you need to have a lot of money. But unlike other sites, here the markup is returned to the manufacturer.
Let us take the case of Charles Lachaux. Vintner in Burgundy, his business has seen a spectacular rise in recent years. Voted best young winemaker in the world by the Golden Vines Awards in 2021, his wines are sought after everywhere. “We have bottles that have gone from 40 euros to 2,500 euros in two years. This can be explained in several ways: Burgundy’s rating has risen a lot, the scarcity of wines also plays a big role in this, and then our wines are valued at the Elysée! There were several fugitives” says the pro. Problem: if Charles Lachaux didn’t curb this increase in prices, his bottles would only be consumed by a small circle of the privileged. “We only produce 12,000 bottles a year on the market, but 85% of this volume goes to catering, where the bottles are sold for between 80 and 100 euros, so they remain affordable. The rest are sold on Crurated at a high price. When you sell high, the temptation to sell it to speculate is less because the margin will be lower. The very wealthy consumer will pay dearly for their bottles on this site, but these funds have allowed me to change my cultural practices about commerce.
“Certificate of ownership”
If you’re interested, a bottle of this winemaker sold as a shandy on Crurated costs between €600 and €800, or €3,600 for six. “We have negotiated the distribution percentage in advance, so there is no speculation,” continues the winemaker. In particular, every bottle that passes through this site is traceable by an NFT (per “non-fungible token”) which certifies a certain amount of information that will be of interest to collectors: “It’s a certificate of ownership explaining that such a person bought the bottle at time T, which left the warehouse on a similar day. When consumed, it must be scanned by its owner, who guarantees that it has been drunk and not resold. This technological solution now attracts the largest, as evidenced by the site’s catalogue: Domaine de Montille in Burgundy, Domaine Hubert Lignier in Burgundy, Domaine Bérèche & Fils in Champagne, Château Latour, Château Cheval blanc, Château Margaux in Bordeaux…
In six months Crurated has collected 1,500 subscribers and 12 million euros in turnover. From this figure “most of this income goes to the producers”, says the CEO of the application. “Some customers sometimes say: I no longer have the means to drink my bottles, on the other hand they have the means to buy them, to resell them! continues Charles Lachaux. These people buy to put them in the cellar, not to drink them, and it is this system that needs to be unlocked. It’s done.