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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Southampton Boat Show – Intercontinental Wines Ltd – 15 years experience ... Really!

'15yrs experience – unparalleled access'  
(full text below) 

From The 2015 Southampton Boat Show website 

'About Intercontinental Wines Limited 
'Intercontinental Wines Ltd is a Luxury Fine Wine Merchants based in Hampshire. We specialize in sourcing Investment Grade Wines for drinking or as an alternative investment vehicle. With over 15yrs experience surrounding the Fine Wine Market we have the contacts to provided (sic) unparalleled access to the worlds greatest chateaux's' (sic).

'With the market showing an average increase in value of 14.9% per annum over the last 20yrs it is hardly surprising people are flooding to the market. So whether you are looking for a single case for drinking or assistance in the creation, purchase and storage of a world class portfolio our team on hand to help.

'Contact the team today to find out more, alternatively visit our website.'


'over 15 years of experience and knowledge 
surrounding the fine wine investment market'

Although Intercontinental Wines Ltd claims over '15 years experience and knowledge surrounding the fine wine investment market', there is no company record filed at the UK's Companies House that would support this claim nor has David Angel, the company's sole director and sole shareholder (£1 share capital), provided any evidence to support his claim of having worked in the fine wine market since the early 2000s. 

On August 28th I emailed Adrian Danson, commercial director for British Marine & British Marine Boat Shows, with my concerns over the claims made by Intercontinental Wines Ltd as a Platinium Partner of the show.

Danson came back to me after the Bank Holiday:

'I'm sorry to hear that you still have concerns about the business. Owner, Dave Angel, is very happy to answer any further questions you have about his background, experience and the company itself.

'Dave is incredibly busy with the business and sponsoring the Show so is unable to meet you but would welcome the opportunity to address any queries you have. Please feel free to send your questions across and he will endeavour to get back to you by the end of the week.' 

I duly sent the following questions to David Angel on 2nd September. I received an acknowledgment and a promise that I would receive a response in the next few days. I am still waiting.  

Questions for David Angel 
Many thanks for agreeing to answer questions that I have about Intercontinental Wines Ltd and your experience and track record to offer wine investment advice.

1.    Intercontinental Wines Ltd claims ‘over 15 years experience around the world of fine wine’. However, the company was founded in 2011. As the sole director of the company what experience did you have in fine wine prior to the formation of Intercontinental Wines Ltd.
2.  What expertise do you have that qualifies you and your company to give potential investors  sound advice on wine investment?
3.  Does intercontinental Wine Ltd trade from Threefield House, Southampton and have a staffed office there? If not from what address do you trade?
4. Does Intercontinental Wines Ltd have a storage account with a bonded warehouse? If so which one please? *
5.  There is no mention in your terms of business of the 2013 Consumer Contracts legislation and the right to cancellation. What are your cancellation terms?
6. In the section ‘becoming a client you state that wine is ‘exempt from Capital Gains Tax’. This is at variance with advice from HMRC. On what do you base your claim that profits on wine are free of capital gains tax?
7. What advice do you give your clients regarding inheritance tax?

  * Although Intercontinental Wines Ltd features Vinothèque, London City Bond's fine wine division, the company has never had a a trading account at Vinothèque.   

    I have now received replies to my questions from David Angel. They can be found at the end of this post.


You have to wonder what checks The Southampton Boat Show (British Marine Federation – Company number: 02592536) carried out to satisfy themselves that David Angel's claims posted on The Southampton Boat Show's website are credible:

'We specialize in sourcing Investment Grade Wines for drinking or as an alternative investment vehicle. With over 15yrs experience surrounding the Fine Wine Market we have the contacts to provided (sic) unparalleled access to the worlds greatest chateaux's' (sic).'

'With the market showing an average increase in value of 14.9% per annum over the last 20yrs it is hardly surprising people are flooding to the market.'

Intercontinental Wines Ltd was incorporated on 16th June 2011. On 15th June 2011 a case (12 bottles) of 2005 Château Lafite would have cost £12,300 from Ditton Wine Traders (wine-searcher). Today a case could be purchased for £5950 – a fall of nearly 52%.   

A little due diligence on the part of the British Marine Federation would reveal that these claims by David Angel are at best dubious and are quite probably utter nonsense

How can a company be a 'specialist' in 'sourcing Investment Grade Wines' when it may well not have a trading account at a UK bonded warehouse? A four-year company with 'unparalleled access' – better than long established companies like Farr Vintners, Wilkinson Vintners, Berry Bros & Rudd, Corney & Barrow and Justerini & Brooks!!!? 

Interesting that Intercontinental Wines Ltd stress access to world's greatest châteaux when almost all of the top Bordeaux wines are sold through the Bordeaux négociants. With 'over 15 years' experience' you would think they would be aware of this....

I find it astonishing that the British Marine Federation is apparently happy to have such claims relating to an alternative investment published on their website.   


Update: 7th September 2015
I have now received a response from David Angel:

'My experience started in 1997, when I worked in hospitality & catering at prestigious restaurants and hotels including 2 x AA Rosette, A la Carte Restaurants and Harrods. I was quickly given the opportunity to progress into management as a reflection of my hard word, determination and the expertise I'd gained.

'Throughout my experience and successful completion of the level 1, 2 and 3 courses in hospitality, I gained a high level of industry knowledge and was able to explore my passion and interest in fine wine. This was deepened when I moved into front of house management which further enhanced my specialist knowledge and expertise in the fine wine and champagne trade. I revelled in the learning experience brought on by how broad the market was and the real differences there were in quality and value.

'My next career step saw me manage an a la carte French restaurant, where I was responsible for the wine and champagne lists. This offered further opportunities for me to build on my passion and expertise in the area. As the business grew, I was soon taking orders on top of the restaurant trade from regular diners who were impressed with the range and quality of the wines available at the restaurant. This quickly opened my eyes to the demand that ran alongside the restaurant trade.

'After a lengthy period in the restaurant trade and enjoying the sales side of the business, I decided to take a different path. I spent the next few years finding my way through a few private buyers helping them to build their portfolios. This was purely for enjoyment whilst I worked in a full time role alongside. I had a number of private clients that I would help choose wines for and would advise them on good purchases for their collections. This was all terrific learning and revitalised my passion for fine wine.

'Following this, I spent time combining my experience in sales with my passion for wine through working for a wine merchants. Here I gained a fantastic insight into the market and seeing how certain wines performed so well. Whilst I was there I completed my Level 1 & 2 WSET qualification.

'Building on my extensive knowledge and experience, I decided the time was right to set up Intercontinental Wines, (we are based at Threefield House, Threefield lane, Southampton, SO14 3LP.) I am incredibly proud of the business that it has grown into today.

'With the the dramatic changes in the market I feel there are some great opportunities for people looking to buy for collectors and consumers alike. I always advise anyone looking solely as an investment to carry out there own research and due diligence before buying. People should be sure as to what they are buying as prices can go down as well as up. I make this clear from the outset to all our clients.

'We are excited to be involved with the Platinum Partnership with the Southampton Boat Show this year. It is a great opportunity for us to meet new clients and demonstrate our knowledge, experience and passion for fine wine and champagne.

'We are continuously updating our new website and are currently adding the page highlighting the tax considerations so buyers can be sure where they stand, dependant on what they are buying for. I would always advise clients to seek independent financial advise in this area.

'Below is our cancellation policy that is sent with all of our terms and conditions when somebody has asked to take the steps to making a purchase.

'Cancellation - 16. You are entitled in accordance to the 2013 consumer contracts regulations to cancel a purchase up to 14 days after delivery of stock. 17. If a refund is required you must return goods or show evidence of return to obtain a refund. This must be completed within 14 calendar days of cancelling the contract.

'We have had a storage account at Vinotheque since 2011. We noticed early this year that the charges to the account were incorrect and contacted our Account Manager there to query this. We were informed that the account had been set up incorrectly and requested that this be changed with immediate effect.

'I was surprised therefore to receive correspondence last week to say that it was still incorrect. Unfortunately, despite contacting the Trade Manger several times by phone and e-mail, they have failed to respond to my queries. We are continuing to chase them so that they rectify our position immediately.

'Regarding the wines you have mentioned, we have not sold those particular wines to any type of buyer.'

It is unfortunate that David Angel has not given details, apart from Harrods, of the restaurants and hotels in which he worked.  

Despite the claims of 'unparalleled access' David Angel is not known to Spear Communications, who organise the annual Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tastings in London. This is one of the most important annual events for the UK fine wine trade. 

Also, if Intercontinental Wines Ltd was trading regularly as its claims of expertise etc. on the 2015 Southampton Boat Show website would suggest, the problems with the account at Vinothèque would have come to their notice much earlier.  

I was not suggesting that Intercontinental Wines Ltd had sold Lafite 2005. It was included in the post to show that the blurb about the advantages of wine investment was absurdly over-optimistic and that some top Bordeaux wines have fallen very significantly in price over the past four years.      


Response to David Angel's comments about Vinothèque from David Hogg, Vinothèque's director:  

"Their account" may well have been set up in 2011, but we have certainly not set this up incorrectly as it was Intercontinental who completed a private storage application form, as opposed to approaching us to have a trade account.
I have no idea who their so called approach to the Account Manager is and it was an email to myself ( no doubt as the Trade Manager!) claiming that they had requested a change in April this year (some 4 years after the account was set up!) that, to date, I have not responded to.

'I have however gone through our records and my own emails and, funnily enough, cannot find any previous messages from them. I am a little bit surprised to see that his "email message" of 3 April abbreviates the date in a different way to his most recent message and also does not use a 24 hours clock!.
'I can also say, categorically, that I have never spoken to a David Angel.'


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