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Investors offered cheap claret over Lafite

Instead of long-awaited cases of Château Lafite or Latour, investors in the failed, Paris-based, 1855.com, are being offered basic Bordeaux Supérieur in compensation.

Jim Budd - wine investment's Crimewatch
Jim Budd – wine investment’s answer to Crimewatch

The offer from 1855’s parent company – Héraclès, is likely to enrage the firm’s 10,000 customers owed money. They claim the total including 1855’s sister company, ChateauOnline, comes to €42 million, most of which is owed for wines bought en primeur that never arrived. The company puts the amount at €8m.

For aggrieved creditors, the Château Les Eyraux 2012 offered in lieu, may leave a bitter after taste. With its €9.95 price recently discounted to €5.50 in a French supermarket, it is hardly investment grade claret. The supposed ‘payment in kind’ is for those owed between €300 – 5,000, while an eight year repayment plan has been proposed for larger creditors.

The plan was examined by the Tribunal de Commerce in Paris on October 21st with the next hearing postponed until late November. “1855 is still in administration with its future yet to be decided,” Jim Budd who writes the investdrinks blog, told the drinks business. “I would not trust any offer made by 1855 as they have broken too many promises in the past. Also Bordeaux Supérieur is hardly a substitute for much of the en primeur outstanding.”

Despite being in administration since last September, 1855.com was offering half bottles of Château Yquem 1998 as recently as March, though at least the vintage does exist unlike the mythical Yquem 2012 it offered last summer. Budd suspects the firm “has protection at a high level. I am amazed, given all the complaints and court cases, that 1855 has not been closed down in the French equivalent of public interest.”

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