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Luxury Power 50

In our first of five installments, we count down from number 50 to 41 of the 50 most powerful people in the world of luxury wine 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.

Had this been a straightforward power list, the outcome would have been significantly different. Wine giants such as Miguel Torres and Gina Gallo would have certainly made the cut, but each person has been chosen purely for their influence over luxury goods production and consumption, hence a significant number of entries from Bordeaux and Champagne, with a sprinkling from Burgundy and Italy. The inclusion of influential importers and distributors in China reflects the current focus of demand for the expensive and ostentatious in the East.

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

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50. Tony Conigliaro

Age: 40

This bow tie-wearing former art student has been a force in the London cocktail scene for years, taking inspiration from perfumery, science and gastronomy. One of the world’s best-known mixologists, Conigliaro opened the quirky 1950s north London cocktail bar 69 Colebrooke Row in 2009, and this year took the helm at top new London nightspot Zetter Townhouse, where cocktails come with a vintage twist.

Tony C’s “modern classic” creations include a reinvention of the Prairie Oyster, the Twinkle, and the Liquorice Whisky Sour, which reside on drinks menus across numerous luxurious London bars.

49. Karl Lagerfeld

Age: 78

Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld was commissioned this year to design the 2009 label for Margaux super-second Château Rauzan-Ségla, which was bought by Chanel in 1994.

The German fashion designer created a bespoke label, featuring a coloured sketch of the château, to celebrate its 350th birthday. A savvy move, the Lagerfeld label will have immediate appeal in China, where Chanel is the second most lusted-after luxury brand behind Louis Vuitton.

Lagerfeld is no stranger to drinks design – he collaborated with Dom Pérignon to create a bespoke, gold-studded bottle for the 1998 vintage, as well as shooting the ad campaign for the Champagne.

48. Yasuhisa Hirose

Age: 61

Hirose heads up Enoteca, Japan’s biggest player in Bordeaux’s en primeur market. With its 31 stores in Japan and three in Hong Kong, as well as a wholesale outlet, Enoteca has its home base of 130m population covered.

Founded in 1988, Clos des Papes, Vieux-Télégraphe and Sassicaia are among Enoteca’s impressive list of agencies, and draw many high-profile winemakers to Japan for dinners and tastings. Bordeaux accounts for a third of sales, but Enoteca’s range totals more than 1,000 wines.

47. Thierry Servant

Age: 70

The erstwhile chairman of L’Oreal Spain is now the majority owner of Lavinia, billed as “the world’s only significant international wine retailer”.

The privately held company started life in Madrid in 1999 and now operates stores in Paris, Barcelona and Geneva, alongside a franchise in Kiev.

Aiming to be the midpoint between the impersonal supermarket and intimidating independent merchant, the 1,500 square metre Paris store boasts 180,000 bins, making it the largest wine shop in the world.

46. Nicolo Incisa

Age: 74

He may have handed winemaking duties onto his stepson, Dottore Sebastiano Rosa, but Incisa still pulls the strings at Sassicaia maker Tenuta San Guido.

“The marchese is still very much in charge. He is the one making the decisions. I am only carrying them out,” says Rosa.

Incisa’s icon wine came 29th in the Liv-ex Power 100 this year, ahead of Ornallaia (37th), Tignanello (52nd) and Solaia (64th), proving the original Super Tuscan still has the most pulling power in terms of fine wine investment.

45. Shin & Yuko Kibayashi

Ages: 47 (Shin) and 50 (Yuko)

The brother and sister duo behind famous Japanese wine manga comic The Drops of God work under the pen-name Tadashi Agi. Their series, which follows the quest of Shizuku Kanzaki to uncover 12 great wines in order to inherit his late father’s wine collection, is arguably the most influential wine publication of the past 20 years.

Japanese airline All Nippon Airways recrafted its in-flight wine list to include wines from the comic, while in one edition, Right Bank Bordeaux Château Mont-Pérat 2001 is described as “like the voice of Freddie Mercury, sweet and husky”, which resulted in rocketing sales in Asia, including one importer selling 50 cases of the wine in two days.

44. Richard Geoffroy

Age: 57

Born amid Chardonnay vines in the Champagne town of Vertus, Geoffroy has one of the most important jobs in Champagne as chef de cave of Dom Pérignon, where, since 1996, he alone has been responsible for deciding whether or not to declare a Dom Pérignon vintage.

Exactly how many bottles of the prestige cuvée are made each vintage is Champagne’s best-kept secret, but it is thought to be in the region of five million.

Geoffroy is also custodian of Oenothèque, a range of re-released vintage Dom Pérignon from exceptional years.

43. Mariah Carey

Age: 41

R&B songstress Mariah Carey launched her own Champagne brand – Angel – in the on-trade last year at an eye-watering £800 a pop.

Targeted at hip-hop-club-frequenting women, each bottle of fizz is coated with four layers of platinum finish and inset with diamond-cut Swarovski crystals.

In a scene from US TV channel Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, one character is seen serving Angel Champagne to her dog.

In September, the fizz won a listing at famous Beverley Hills restaurant Mr Chow, and was also served at this year’s Emmy awards.

42. Prince Robert of Luxembourg

Age: 43

The bespectacled prince presides over Château Haut-Brion and the lesser-known châteaux in the Domaine Clarence Dillon profile: La Mission Haut-Brion, La Tour Haut-Brion and Laville Haut-Brion. “He brings to Bordeaux a sense of elegance and dignity, both qualities found in the wines of Haut-Brion,” says Pétrus owner Christian Moueix of the prince.

A radical overhaul and streamlining of the names, and reinvestment in winemaking and quality has led to a surge of momentum among the properties.

Haut-Brion has been one of the most successful estates this year, with sales at auction even outperforming the likes of Lafite and Latour.

41. Gary Boom

Age: 52

Boom set up Bordeaux Index in 1997, launching Live Trade in 2009, an online marketplace trading 60 of the world’s top wines.

In its first week, more than £1.5m was traded. Boom is also advisor for The Vintage Wine Fund, a Cayman Island-based investment company.

Last month, Boom admitted that the market had “corrected” fine wine prices, but remains confident about the security of wine as a medium- to long-term investment: “Compared to other asset classes aside from gold, fine wine still continues to outperform its rivals,” Boom said.

Bordeaux Index remains on track for another record year, with turnover for the year close to £100m.






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