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Luxury Power 50: No 20-11

In the fourth of five installments, we count down from number 20 to 11 of the 50 most powerful people in the world of luxury wines and spirits.

To coincide with our focus on all things liquid and luxurious in the December issue of the drinks business, we have compiled a list of the 50 most powerful people in the world of luxury wine and spirits.

For the complete list, see the December issue of the drinks business.

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20. Robert Shum

Age: 48

Shum heads up China’s largest wine retailer, Aussino, which he founded in 1995 as a food and wine importer, but switched solely to wine in 1997.

It operates across 200 stores in 100 cities, offering more than 1,000 wines from 200 producers.

In July, Aussino publicly criticised Left Bank Bordeaux wines, stating that their inflated prices made them “too dangerous” to continue to market in China.

The company subsequently cancelled a dinner with the Union des Grands Crus, due to be held last month, and has shifted its focus to the Right Bank.

19. Jay-Z

Age: 42

Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z has been so heavily associated with Champagne brand Armand de Brignac since it came onto the market in 2006, that the rapper, who is married to R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles, has been credited with its invention.

Known as “Ace of Spades”, or simply “Ace”, the Champagne, famous for its “bling” gold bottle, shot to fame after it appeared in Jay-Z’s Monaco-based music video for his song Show Me What You Got.

This July, gambler Don Johnson bought a 30-litre “Midas” bottle of Ace (the largest bottle of Champagne in existence) for £120,000 at Park Lane nightspot One for One, making it the most expensive bottle of Champagne ever sold in London.

18. Simon Berry

Age: 53

Seventh generation Simon Berry is at the helm of Berry Bros & Rudd, a quintessentially British fine wine merchant with a modern outlook.

Their recent online efforts have included a sleek website and an entertaining, informative blog.

Berry Bros sells five million bottles of wine annually, and has offices in Japan and Shanghai, as well as a retail outlet in Hong Kong.

Further illustrating Berry’s interests in China, sales director Simon Staples has been moved out to Hong Kong to head up and expand Berry’s burgeoning Hong Kong and Macau divisions.

Last July, Berry’s branched into spirits with its super-premium No. 3 London Dry Gin, while this summer the merchant dipped into the super-premium rum category with Mauritian spiced rum Pink Pigeon.

17. Don St Pierre Jr

Age: 43

Chief executive of China’s biggest wine importer, ASC, St Pierre Jr opened a Hong Kong office mere months after duty on wine was scrapped in the territory in 2008, and quickly set about stockpiling Latour 2007.

Establishing ASC with his father in 1996, the company now employs 900, and its portfolio of 1,000+ wines includes Bollinger, Gaja, Penfolds and Stag’s Leap.

He is currently working with Château Lafite on its Chinese vineyard venture in Penglai, the fruits of which will be available in five years.

Last year, Japanese drinks giant Suntory became a majority stakeholder in ASC.

16. Simon Tam

Age: 43

Christie’s head of wine in China, Tam is responsible for developing Christie’s wine sales in Asia, with particular focus on client relationships in Greater China.

The Hong Kong-born wine expert, who founded the Independent Wine Centre in Hong Kong and Shanghai, also created the world’s first Chinese food and wine pairing iPhone app, Flavour Colours.

This year, Tam made the historic decision of introducing Chinese tasting notes into Christie’s wine catalogues.

15. Vijay Mallya

Age: 55

The Indian spirits baron is the chairman of the United Breweries Group, which includes United Spirits, the world’s second largest spirits maker by volume. He also co-owns the Formula One team Force India.

His personal wealth is estimated to be US$1.4bn.

In May 2007, United Breweries Group announced the all-cash acquisition of Scotch whisky maker Whyte & Mackay, whose brands include Dalmore, Isle of Jura and Fettercaim, for £595 million.

14. Dominique Heriard Dubreuil

Age: 65

The chairman of Rémy Cointreau since 2004, Hériard Dubreuil has been hailed as one of the 50 most influential businesswomen in the world.

Her taking over from her father, André Heriard Dubreuil, has put the sparkle back into Rémy Cointreau, selling off marginal assets, while beefing up marketing of brands such as Rémy Martin Cognac and Cointreau liqueur.

Custodian of ultra-premium Cognac Louis XIII, Hériard Dubreuil is an expert in the luxury goods field.

In 2003, she fought (and won) the battle for the first ever female cellar master to be appointed in Cognac – Pierrette Trichet. This June, the company, which also owns Mount Gay rum, sold Piper and Charles Heidsieck Champagne to EPI for €412m.

13. John Paul DeJoria

Age: 67

With a net worth in the region of US$4bn, DeJoria’s ultra-premium Tequila Patrón, made famous by Tom Cruise when he orders it in Vanilla Sky, is now name-checked in songs by the likes of Bruno Mars and P Diddy.

Wooing film stars such as Clint Eastwood has helped take the brand from profits of $75m to $450m in six years.

Patrón is currently the world’s number one ultra-premium Tequila, accounting for 70% of sales in the category and outselling its nearest competitor in the US by eight to one.

The brand’s luxury offering has done much to shake off Tequila’s less-than-favourable image.

DeJoria also has interests in luxury Polish vodka Ultimat, sold through the Patrón Spirits Company, and Pryat Rum.

12. Christian Seely

Age: 51

The Harrow-educated Englishman has one of the most powerful positions in wine as managing director of AXA Millésimes, whose properties include super second Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Petit-Village in Pomerol, Suduiraut in Sauternes, Disznoko in Hungary and Quinta do Noval in Portugal.

He is also the president of the Compagnie Médocaine, a Bordeaux négociant wholly owned by AXA Millésimes. Seely also makes English sparkling wine in Hampshire through Coates & Seely Ltd, a joint venture with Nicolas Coates.

11. The Lurton Family

Pierre, Age 54; Henri, 50; Berenice, 41; Gonzague, 45; François: 53

In 2009, the ever-expanding Lurton dynasty joined forces through their Lurton Family website.

With 1,300 hectares across 27 domaines, they form one of the most powerful wine families in France.

Leading the pack is Pierre Lurton (pictured), who wields the power in two of Bordeaux’s hottest properties in his joint role as director of Château Cheval Blanc and CEO of Château d’Yquem.

Henri Lurton presides over Margaux second growth Château Brane-Cantenac, while his sister Berenice is head of premier cru classé Sauternes Château Climens, and brother Gonzague is at the helm of Margaux second growth Durfort-Vivens.

François Lurton has ventures in the Languedoc, Portugal and Argentina.

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