Wine Name:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bordeaux UK Ltd – officially bust – deficit nears £4 million

Marriott Hotel, Bexleyheath

Following a meeting today of the sole director and the sole shareholder (Ian Vanderhook/ Ian Van Der Hook in both instances), Bordeaux UK Ltd (founded in 2002) was placed in voluntary liquidation. The creditors' meeting, held at the Marriott Hotel shortly afterwards, approved the appointment of Nedim Ailyan (Abbott Fielding Ltd) as the liquidator.

Papers presented at the meeting showed that contrary to Ailyan's earlier optimism that the deficit might be less than £250,000, the actual deficiency is currently £3.780 million* (£3,780,112.49p to be exact). There are £3.1 in assets including £67,000 in the bank and the rest is stock. There are around 360 creditors – almost all of them private investors for sums ranging up to £559,000. The only wine trade creditors appear to be Ditton Wine Merchants in for £55,000 and Wine networks for £10,000.

For a number of reasons it is very likely that the deficiency will rise. Firstly Bordeaux UK has not submitted a tax return to HM Revenue & Customs since their 2007 return, so there is likely to be more corporation tax and PAYE to be paid adding to the £63,720 already owned to HMRC. Ailyan said that he was not satisfied that the company database was accurate. It was clear from the meeting that a number of creditors thought they were owed substantially more than was listed on the creditors schedule. There are also some 32 creditors who have zero against their name because what they are owed has not yet been established.

There is also some dispute over the value of the wine in the Bordeaux UK account at Octavian Vaults. The company estimates this to be between £700,000 and £800,000, while Octavian's value (cost price) is £289,101.

Ailyan suggested that on the current figures creditors may get back 47/48p in the £1. This will obviously depend upon what the deficiency is once all the figures are in and the costs associated with the liquidation. My guess after yesterday's meeting is that the payout may well be lower.

I was at the meeting representing HG, who had bought 5 cases of 2009 Château Mouton-Rothschild on 8th February 2010 for £10,000 a case totalling £50,000. I asked Ian Vanderhook (for the sake of simplicity I'll use this version of his name) how he was able to sell 2009 Mouton in February 2010 well before the château had released its price for the 2009 and how many cases it was putting on the market. In response to my question asking him when the price of the 2009 Mouton was released, Vanderhook blustered that the date varied from year to year.  He also claimed that the merchants and brokers with whom he dealt would have given him the price. This would appear to be highly unlikely as they would neither know the price nor the size of their 2009 allocation – a vintage that was obviously going to be in great demand. 

The price release date does vary for the First Growths but only between May and June, even possibly early July but most normally some time in June in the year following the vintage. The price is certainly never released in early February, which is a good six weeks before the wine world descends on Bordeaux to taste the latest vintage after which the en primeur campaign gradually cranks into action. It normally takes until late June before the prices of the top wines, like Mouton, are released.  The end of March/beginning April 2012 will see the 2011 tasted.

In the 'company history' presented to the meeting Vanderhook stated: 'The Company was set up by Mr Ian Vanderhook, who remains the sole director of the Company, in order to take advantage of his experience gained working for a company that specialised in the sale of fine wine.'
Despite this claim of 'experience' Vanderhook made it clear from this and other responses during the meeting that his understanding of how the fine wine market works appears to be still sketchy even after running a 'wine investment' company for the last nine years. Perhaps hardly surprising as Vanderhook admitted that 'his experience' came from working a maximum of two weeks for James Hewitt Associates Ltd, which was closed in the public interest on 12th September 2002 following a petition by the DTI. Bordeaux UK Ltd was fired up a week later on 19th September 2002 with 23-year-old Vanderhook as the sole director. Prior to his brief stint at James Hewitt Associates, Vanderhook told the meeting he was a lift engineer.

Vanderhook (VK) was asked whether Andrew Dunne, who effectively ran Ransby Hoare Ltd, Liquid Acquisitons Ltd and James Hewitt Associates Ltd - all closed in the public interest, had had any involvement in Bordeaux UK Ltd. VK said that Dunne had been involved in some staff training but was unsure when this was – 'might have been two or four years ago'. I asked VK whether he had met Dunne, while he was at James Hewitt Associates Ltd. "No," was VK's response as it was to my question whether the James Hewitt Associate's database has been transferred to Bordeaux UK Ltd.

VK insisted that Bordeaux UK Ltd had been set up properly with the assistance of his father, I understand is a policeman. Given VK's very limited experience in 2002 and continuing lack of knowledge about the fine wine market combined with his admitted weakness in administering a company, this all seems a decidedly unlikely scenario. More plausible is that Andrew Dunne chose VK as the next young man to follow on from 23-year-old James Hewitt.

A creditors' committee was formed at the end of the meeting. It includes someone from HMRC specialist investigations, which should ensure that the right questions are asked whether they will be to the liking of Ian Vanderhook remains to be seen.

Ailyan stressed on several occasions that both the FSA and Scotland Yard were investigating some other failed wine investment companies, although to date Bordeaux UK Ltd is not one of these.

* 18.11.2011. Please note that these figures (assets, deficiency etc.) are calculated from information supplied by Ian Vanderhook. Now that the liquidator has been appointed these figures will be investigated. It is not clear, for instance, whether the stock listed with a book value of £3,039,101 is calculated from the cost price value provided by Octavian Vaults or from a separate valuation.

 22.11.2011: I have been informed by Nedim Ailyan that the value of the stock at Octavian is based on Vanderhook's valuation. This stock is due to be valued this week but given "the paucity of information" provided by Vanderhook to the liquidator it would seem all to likely that the stock in Octavian is worth less than the 'book value' of £700,000-£800,000 given to the meeting. The rest of the £3,039,101 is made up of 2009 (£2 million) and 2010 (£250,000) Bordeaux en primeur orders placed with UK wine brokers/merchants. 

Furthermore Ailyan believes that the tax bill will rise very substantially once HMRC completes it investigation into the tax affairs of Bordeaux UK Ltd and Vanderhook. Listed at £63,720 it may rise to £500,000 and even over £1 million if HMRC applies penalties, although apparently in cases where members of the public are involved HMRC may well be waived.                                


  1. One wonders if his policeman father, what has he been up to, has he helped his son dodge the proverbial bullet, has he helped him in anyway,,,,,, it stinks

  2. why don't you ask any of the Bordeaux UK clients If they ever spoke wilth 'William' also know as James Hewitt who has been at Bordeaux UK since the start.

  3. Anon. You just have asked any Bordeaux clients who read this blog. Among the self employed brokers were Ellis Threadneedle (!), Craig Chidgey and Jamieson Flamez. Chidgey and Flamez are now understood to be working for Vin Bordelais Ltd.

  4. I see the wolves are at the door this morning. Inaccurate blogging. Your headlines and figures, I believe, are false. You mention a deal completed in July 2010 for Mouton-Rothschild 2009 as a year earlier than completion. You attack the integrity of my Father and the Policeforce
    As I said to you in person yesterday all I wish for is that Bordeaux UK customers get their money. For many years I put tremendous effort into the company and a fact that I feel would never be addressed, particularly on this blog, is that hundreds of customers made literally millions of pounds of profit through their dealings with Bordeaux UK.
    I understand you have a job to do and for the most part it is a job you carry out well and fairly, however...the vast majority of comments on your blog are from wine brokers ( one in particular ) and you only seem to report on a select few. Curious
    I do not believe as you stated you were unaware of investment advice evenings with a company from whom you might buy investment grade wines as they discussed you and your website at the meeting at your request via email. BudMac
    There is more, but as I said yesterday I would prefer not to be pushed into discussing individuals or other companies as it is not my business, nor fair or relevant of me to do so.
    Your readers can be assured that your questioning of me was intense!

  5. VK (Ian Vanderhook):

    Thank you for your comments.

    Firstly you are correct that at one point in the para covering the sale of the 2009 Mouton I had in error put in 2010 Mouton. I have now corrected this and my apologies for any confusion.

    The facts according to the invoices sent by Bordeaux UK to HG are as set out in the first sentence of that paragraph and as I put to you yesterday at the meeting.

    On 8th February 2010 Bordeaux UK Ltd sent an invoice for £50,000 to HG for five cases of 2009 Mouton-Rothschild. Four months before the château released the price of its 2009 and equally showing the amount of wine it was releasing onto the market. When Mouton released the price of the 2009 in late June 2010 Corney & Barrow, for example, offered this at around £8000 a case – substantially cheaper than the £10,000 Bordeaux UK charged in February.

    In the 'company history'presented to the meeting you stated 'The Company also found that the price of en primeur wine was increasing making it difficult to achieve suitable margins.' It depends, of course, on what you define as a suitable margin but I would suggest that your margin on the 2009 Mouton en primeur was comfortable, especially bearing in mind you had HG's £50,000 for a minimum of four months before having to pay the brokers/merchants with whom you dealt.

    'Your headlines and figures, I believe, are false.'
    All the figures quoted come from the information you as sole director of Bordeaux UK Ltd presented to the meeting. If I have misquoted them, then please let me know and I will naturally correct them if I have made an error.

    For the reasons I outline above it think it is probable that the final deficiency will be over £4 million.

    I have not attacked the integrity of your father. I did, however, state my long held belief that Bordeaux UK Ltd was the follow on company of James Hewitt Associates Ltd. By your own admission yesterday your experience of the fine wine market and wine investment at the age of 23 when you set up Bordeaux UK Ltd was extremely limited. A few days experience gained only from a company that was closed in the public interest.

  6. Ian Vanderhook pathetically demonstrates his arrogance, hypocrisy and cowardice by describing his very victims as “wolves at the door”.
    Let there be no mistake, the only wolves at the door in this case were those in the snarling “money hungry” pack of self proclaimed brokers led by Ian Vanderhook, huffing and puffing and howling down the phone, using fictitious Dickensian names such as Ellis Threadneedle, at vulnerable and gullible old age pensioners up and down the country. The alpha male wolf is 52-year-old Andrew Michael Dunne, who had previously received a High Court ban in August 2005 preventing him from being a company director for 10 years. This followed a successful prosecution of Andrew Michael Dunne and his scam wine investment company, Liquid Acquisitions Ltd, brought by the Department of Trade & Industry. Andrew Michael Dunne and his fellow director were found guilty of “deceitful and dishonest conduct of business”.
    For more details, refer to this report:-

  7. Heard nothing more from liquidator or Vanderhook . Should i be thinking about contacting fraud squad?

  8. Anon I'm afraid you will have to be patient these inquiries tend to take time.

  9. Hi this is Darius, has anyone got any more news on what is happening with regards to this case, or how I can gett in contact with the people that might knoww more. You can contact me at

  10. Darius. I suggest that you contact the liquidator.