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New claret investment companies

Published:  23 July, 2008

by Jim Budd

A number of new claret "investment" companies have emerged during 2001, including Vaz & Alexander Ltd, founded in October 2000. It is offering a half-case of Lafite 1996 for 2,375. A full case can be bought elsewhere for about 2,000. Boington & Fredericks Ltd of 16/19 Southampton Place, London WC1 is offering Lafite 1996 at 4,300. Frederick Achom, one of the directors, worked for City Vintners. The Burbridge King Group of 302-308 Regent Street, London W1 has been selling 1996 Troplong-Mondot for 4,200 a case. 245 will secure a case from Farr Vintners. Peter Fretwell, who ran Harrington Ross Ltd and Pembridge Villiers Ltd, is involved in the Burbridge King Group. Harrington Ross and Pembridge Villiers, which offered overpriced Bordeaux as an investment, are understood to have ceased trading. They are both currently in breach of company law having failed to file any returns or accounts. Harpers has recently received a letter from Peter Fretwell stating that "Burbridge King Group seeks no further new or existing clients in fine wine". This year the DTI has closed Ashley Witter Ltd and Ashley White Ltd in the public interest. Lynton Guest was the sole director of Ashley White Ltd and Aurora Menon the senior dealer. The company was closed because it failed to buy all the wine it sold. Now Guest and Menon are the two directors of Harley Fine Wine Ltd whose registered office is 1-7 Harley Street, London W1. The trading address appears to be 7a Cheniston Gardens, London W8. Aware that potential clients will wonder at the discrepancy between "claret web" prices and the usual market price, some ingenious stories have been concocted. Vaz & Alexander claimed to one putative investor that "they only dealt with Bordeaux direct and each bottle was x-rayed to prove it was the very best and the price was higher because of the guaranteed quality". A client of Liquid Acquisitions Ltd was told that the cheaper wine was probably "not of the same quality and that some wine is casked and then bottled at a later date, so not being worth as much". He was also told that it may be bin-soiled and that the labels might be peeling off, or that it may not have been looked after properly.