Cult Insider

EDITION 017 | MARCH 2024

Cult Wines’ Data-Driven Journey to Wine Investment Explained

Written by - Cult Wines Marketing Team

At Cult Wines, we represent the marriage of tradition and innovation, where the timeless allure of fine wine meets the cutting-edge world of data analytics. Led by Tom Gearing, CEO & Co-Founder of Cult Wines unwavering passion, we're on a mission to redefine wine investment through the lens of data-driven insights.

In an exclusive series of videos, we invite you to dive into the data tools and analytics that underpin our approach. From unveiling proprietary features to exploring the market trends, each video offers a tantalising glimpse into the future of wine investment.

Video 1: Unveiling the Wine Visualizer

Our journey begins with a revelation of our crown jewel - the Wine Visualizer. Rooted in our steadfast belief in the power of data, this internal tool offers a panoramic view of the wine market, encompassing pricing dynamics, market depth, liquidity, and more across over 25 vintages. Partnering with industry titans like Wine-Searcher, CellarTracker, and Liv-ex, we've forged a path towards unrivalled market analysis, poised to empower our clients with a competitive edge.

Video 2: Navigating the Wine Matrix

Building upon our foundation of data-driven innovation, we introduce the Wine Matrix - a revolutionary feature designed to navigate the labyrinth of wine prices effortlessly. Witness firsthand as we traverse through scores, prices, and regions, uncovering hidden gems and unearthing market anomalies.

Video 3: Decoding the Relative Grading System

In our final instalment, we delve into the heart of our investment strategy - the Relative Grading System. Crafted by our visionary Quant Dmitry Selemir and championed by our investment luminary Olivier Staub, CFA, this model unveils the true essence of wine investment. Join us as we dissect market dynamics, pinpoint undervalued treasures, and navigate the currents of market liquidity.

We extend a warm invitation to all enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike to join the conversation. Your insights, your feedback, your passion - they are the lifeblood of our journey. To watch the full videos and contribute to shaping the future of wine investment, visit our website or reach out to us directly.


News in brief

News 1


Sommelier Training Enhances Cognitive Abilities

A groundbreaking study titled 'Sniffing out meaning: Chemosensory and semantic neural network changes in sommeliers' reveals that sommelier training not only hones taste buds but also significantly remodels the brain. Conducted by the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, the research found that sommeliers exhibit structural brain differences, particularly in regions associated with taste and language, compared to casual wine drinkers. This enables them to better identify and articulate the complexities of wine. The study, which involved functional MRI scans of sommeliers and casual drinkers as they tasted various wines, underscores the profound impact of professional training on cognitive functions, suggesting that sommeliers' superior flavour recognition abilities stem from enhanced tasting and language circuits.

News 1


Post-Brexit Tax Reforms to Spike Wine Prices in Britian

British wine lovers face price hikes for their favourite reds, with increases potentially exceeding 40p per bottle from next year, due to complex post-Brexit tax changes. Ignoring the wine industry's appeals, the government's new alcohol duty system, effective February 2025, will introduce 30 tax bands for wine, up from the current single band, complicating administration, and inflating costs. Industry leaders, including Majestic Wine and the Wine Society, criticise the plan as "ludicrous" and burdensome, fearing significant price rises and administrative challenges for sellers. Despite industry lobbying for a permanent easement on the new rules, the Treasury plans to proceed, prompting concerns over increased prices and operational viability for wine businesses.

News 1


50p Wine Glass Shocks Viewers of Antiques Roadshow

In a thrilling episode of BBC's Antiques Roadshow at the Eden Project, expert Andy McConnell left a guest visibly "shaking" after valuing a seemingly modest 50p wine glass at a staggering £2,000. The glass, acquired by the guest's father from a bric-a-brac stall for five times its asking price of 10p, was revealed to be an incredibly rare item over 300 years old, dating back to 30 years after the invention of lead crystals by George Ravenscroft in 1676. McConnell's revelation of its "heavy baluster" design and significant historical value left the owner astounded, marking another memorable moment of surprise and delight on the beloved show.


Tom Gearing, CEO & Co-Founder - Cult Wines - 2014 Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir Trenton View

What we’re drinking

2014 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Pinot Noir Trenton View

Tom Gearing, CEO & Co-Founder - Cult Wines

  • • A wine that epitomises the elegance and complexity for which this region is renowned. Nestled in the heart of Sonoma County, the Russian River Valley benefits from the cooling fog and breezy climate, creating ideal conditions for Pinot Noir grapes to develop their signature depth of flavour and aroma.

  • • The cooler climate of the Russian River Valley, influenced by fog and sea breezes, contributes significantly to the wine’s delicate flavour profile and aromatic finesse, making it a standout representation of Sonoma’s Pinot Noir.

  • • This Pinot Noir features a compelling nose of red fruit, notably cherries and strawberries, with an underpinning of vanilla and oak, showcasing the wine’s layered complexity.

  • • On the palate, it presents a rich tapestry of flavours, from ripe berries to subtle earthy notes, all carried by a smooth, velvety texture that leads to a satisfyingly long finish.

  • • The 2014 vintage was particularly favourable in the Russian River Valley, allowing for optimal ripeness and depth of flavour in the grapes. This vintage is noted for its balance, structure, and potential for aging, promising to evolve gracefully over time.

“Mature in appearance and colour. Burgundian in style. Perfumed, candied cherry and strawberry on the nose. Light and balanced with earthy undertones, and nice acidity and savouriness. Pleasantly surprised and enjoyable Pinot with a bit of age from Russian river. A Californian Pinot for Burg lovers.”


Our fine wine feature

Should Pinot Enthusiasts Start Looking to the Mornington?

Written by - Jonathan Kee – Client Account Manager, APAC - Cult Wines

The term “Pinot-philes” – a playful term used to describe enthusiasts of Pinot wine – might conjure images of flushed-face, merrily-inebriated older gentlemen gathered in fancy restaurants around tables usually cluttered with greenish-hued empty bottles. To outsiders, observing these men and their austere-Renaissance-labelled bottles might seem overly contrived. To us Pinot lovers, however, nothing really matters outside our shared moment of Pinot-fuelled conviviality.

Compared with other grape varietals, Pinot Noir just seems more adept at evoking an emotional and often visceral reaction. Most unabashed Pinot lovers I know are sometimes reluctant to admit that they did not start off drinking Pinot. Appreciating the nuances of a Pinot is almost like an acquired taste (and vice for some).

Jancis Robinson has been known to speak about her “Pinot Epiphany” with a 1959 Les Amoureuses Chambolle-Musigny, and I believe many of us have such our own experiences.

I love my Burgs, those I've acquired and mostly others I have had the privilege of tasting. I also fantasise constantly about the day I can join a special-access Cult Wines trip to Burgundy.

Should Pinot Enthusiasts Start Looking to the Mornington?

But my own “Pinot Epiphany”, or at least the one I think I had, did not come from a Burg. My love for Pinot Noir began when I put my lips to an unlikely Australian Pinot from the Mornington Peninsula.

Alas, I hope my fellow Burgundian purists and faithfuls will still read on, as I attempt to share my own understanding and encounter with Mornington Pinots.

For simplicity, this article would focus just on the unique climate, terroir, and consequent tasting profiles of Mornington Pinots; and why perhaps, a truly eclectic Pinot “junkie” should give this small region a go!

The Climate in Mornington

Just an hour’s drive south of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula holds roughly 980 Ha of planted vineyards, ranging from sea level to 300m about sea level.

The Peninsula’s unique location and surrounding seas have somehow insulated the region from the greater effects of global warming over the past 60 years compared to other regions in the Southern Hemisphere. The cooling influence from the sea plays a significant role in the wines from the region, with no vineyards in the Mornington being more than 10km from the sea.

Rarely do other regions collectively showcase Pinot Noirs, where the refreshing sea breeze plays such a distinctive role. While the Mornington Peninsula experiences a cool maritime climate, there are variations across its subregions due to differences in elevation, aspect, and topography; creating microclimates that could vary to a great degree.

“From when the vines wake up, to flowering and fruit set, and through to vintage time, there can be a difference of two or three weeks between different sites, so individual weather events and different seasons can affect every part of the Mornington Peninsula differently,” says Moorooduc Estate’s Kate McIntyre MW. “The different combinations of soils, aspect, altitude and latitude add up to many unique sites that express themselves through Pinot Noir in their own, diverse and special way.”Young Gun of Wine

The Terroir in Mornington

Much like Burgundy, the Peninsula carries different soil types that are widely believed to imbue certain characteristics in its wines.

In general, the central north-eastern zones, including Moorooduc and Tuerong, feature sandier soils and lower elevations. Influenced by warmer bay-side breezes, grapes tend to ripen earlier, resulting in darker, richer, and fuller-bodied Pinots.

Venturing south to the central zone, yellow duplex soils overlay well-drained clay in areas like Dromana. Higher elevations in locales such as Red Hill and Main Ridge carry red-brown basalt soils, coupled with increased rainfall, which foster fertile conditions and yield more delicate wines.

In the south-eastern parts like Merricks and Balnarring which are closer to the sea, brown duplex soils are more common, and the cooler conditions result in later ripening. The Pinots here tend to be lighter-hued, refreshingly aromatic, and more fine-boned.

The Taste of Mornington Pinots

Regrettably, my personal exploration of Mornington Pinots has been limited. However, prevalent winemaking practices and the achievements of key producers have steadily shaped the expected flavour profile of a Mornington Pinot.

The finest Mornington Pinot Noirs exhibit a rich tapestry of primary fruit aromas and flavours, spanning cherries, plums, and raspberries. Wines from higher elevations like Main Ridge lean towards red fruits, while those from lower elevations like Moorooduc tend towards darker fruits.

Savoury complexity, the same kind of alluring forest floor and mushroom you get from the good burgs, is common. And with vine age increasing, I have personally heard winemakers noting that their wines are starting to see more structure and depth. These are two factors which I tend to find lacking in other New World Pinots.

In general, oak usage in Pinots across the Peninsula tends to be restrained, though winemakers may vary in other aspects of their approach, like the extent of whole bunch fermentation in Pinot production. The maverick winemakers of the Mornington are also continually experimenting with new techniques to improve the quality of their wines.

Imagine Burgundy's excellence as a standard, fuelled by the pioneering spirit of New World vintners. For instance, clonal selection and experimentation to produce exceptional and intriguing wines, is quite commonplace. Take Eldridge Estate, for example, where vineyards are meticulously divided according to clones and each site tailored to optimise conditions for these specific clones. Their single-clonal wines, like the MV6 which I have personally tried, are truly outstanding.

In Summary

Perhaps Mornington Pinots still have some way to go before rivalling the outstanding GC Burgs. In all its glory of fruit, nuance, and sea-kissed aromatics, a beautiful Mornington Pinot might still seem too clean or just a little short of that - Burgundian Forest Floor – that Burgundy enthusiasts crave.

Yet, at its current price point and value, the wiser (and self-serving) thing for us Pinot lovers to do would be to safeguard this Pinot hack for as long as we can.


Explore & travel

Discovering Salisbury's Favourite Wine & Cheese Bar

Written by - Alexa Atkinson - Cult Wines

In the historic and charming town of Salisbury in Wiltshire, a hidden gem beckons to those who cherish the finer things in life — Maul's Wine and Cheese Bar. This establishment is not just any bar; it's a sanctuary for the senses, where each visit tells a new story of flavour, aroma, and culture. Under the stewardship of Andy Maul, the esteemed "Master of Wine," Maul's has become a cornerstone for wine enthusiasts and foodies alike, offering an experience that transports locals all over the globe.

At the heart of Maul's lies a philosophy that wine is not merely to be consumed but celebrated—a spirit clearly evident in the meticulous selection of wines that grace the menu. Andy has carefully curated a selection of wines spanning the regions we all know and love, as well as new ventures I didn't consider to be wine regions, like the rolling hills of Scotland — more known for whiskey, but wine, who knew?!

The Gooseberry & Elderflower Wine from Cairn O'Mohr stands out as a testament to Maul's commitment to showcasing unique wines. This medium-sweet wine, with its vibrant gooseberry flavours and delicate elderflower notes, encapsulates the essence of a sunny afternoon in Scotland. I questioned whether it was an orange wine because it was just so exciting and nothing like I'd tasted in my WSET Level 2 course!

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The food is selected to complement the wine flawlessly. The homemade vegan pate, a revelation in taste and texture, challenges preconceived notions of plant-based cuisine. I genuinely had to ask, "Are you sure this is vegan? I can't tell the difference!" The selection of raclette cheeses — from earthy mushrooms to fiery chilli and luxurious truffle — was so delicious and just added to that level of escapism into the night.

Maul's is a special place where time seems to just slow down, allowing you to savour each sip and bite. The decor's understated elegance creates a backdrop that enhances the wine-tasting experience, making it intimate and personal.

When I arrived at Maul's, I thought, "I need to know more!" So, I asked to speak with someone, and up walked Andy, the owner of Maul’s, himself. I wanted to dive deeper into the wine selection process at Maul's and have a candid conversation to pull back the curtain of this local gem and reveal the passion and expertise that guide the establishment's vision. Thankfully, Andy was fantastic and agreed with open arms!

My Q&A with Maul's MOW

Q: Andy, could you share how you select the wines featured at Maul's, especially considering the diverse range from local Scottish fruit wines to international varieties?

A: The world of wine is so vast, with climate change being a real thing, traditional 'Classical' world wines are being given a run for their money by 'Modern' world wines. We balance picking wines from locations people know with finding wines from places starting to thrive in the modern climate. France, Spain, and Italy are always staple favourites, but we then introduce the likes of Syria, Israel, and Japan to help expand our customer's wine geography. If the wine has a compelling story, tastes good, pairs with the produce we provide and hits the right price point, then no country is off limits. We never settle for the safe options that other hospitality establishments in our city might sway towards in this financial climate, but instead, we pick the best we can find at that time!

Q: The pairings for the wine and cheese night were exceptional. How do you approach creating these pairings, and what do you consider ensuring they complement each other perfectly?

A: It's a real balance between trying to keep things simple and being a mad scientist with every wine and cheese list. We always have those easy pairings (soft goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc), but then we want to experiment to create the food experience our customers expect of us (Brillat-Savarin with jam and Champagne). Once a seasonal list is settled, we then start that process of thinking towards the next season. But with all things cheese and wine, it is always going to be subjective – but so far, we are hitting the right notes!

Q: With the interesting story behind the Gooseberry & Elderflower Wine and its producers, Cairn O'Mohr, how important is the narrative of a wine's origin to you and its selection for Maul's Wine Bar?

A: Wine reminds me of my past technical career, which involved years supporting, building, and deploying IT equipment. The production of wine is very similar, with the backbone of wine production having a binary structure with bespoke customizations being added last minute to that binary layer – a laptop will always have a CPU, RAM and Hard Drive – Wine will always have grape must, grape juice, yeasts – with that final customization being the story of where it's from, the region, the soil, the people that make it, the diversity in its production and so much more. This makes the story of our wines more interesting. With IT, people are now more "tech-savvy," and so you can't just get by with the basic layers when it comes to technology like phones or laptops. You have to have something more, and with wine tastings being so popular, people are more "wine savvy," so that wine story or narrative helps separate what and why we stock our wines.

Q: Looking ahead, are there any exciting trends or innovations in the wine world that you're excited to bring to the patrons of Maul's Wine Bar?

A: For us, we always try to cast our net far and wide to find as many exciting new regions as possible. With our current Autumn/Winter Wine list ending on the 23rd of April, the road to the Spring/Summer menu is always met with trepidation – "What if we select something wrong?", "What if the current favourites people miss", "Are the wines we like something our customers would buy" so the risk is high in every change. But isn't that the beauty of wine? Risking your pallet? So, although the trend towards Orange and Natural is something that doesn't really work here in conservative Salisbury, exciting locations like Morrocco, Mexico, Brazil, and beyond are exciting to showcase and are what we will look towards. Trends come and go in any industry, but a vine will always grow somewhere – we just haven't found it yet!

My New Local

Maul's Wine & Cheese Bar is more than just a destination; it is the wine lovers' heart of Salisbury, offering an experience that lingers long after the last glass is poured. Each bottle tells a story, inviting patrons on a journey through the senses that is both educational and deeply enjoyable.

I look forward to making this my local wine spot and exploring the seasonal menu, guided by Andy and his team's knowledge and passion. If you're ever in the area, I hope you take a detour to say "cheers" to the outstanding service and excellent wines.


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