Following our SPA wine tasting we thought it might be interesting to find a little out about our MC for that event, Peter Lunzer from Lunzer Wine Events.
Hi Peter, you seem to be involved in many aspects of the wine world, how did it all start?
I was convinced from an early age that I wanted to be involved in the world of design and Architecture seemed to me to tick all of the boxes. After school I was enrolled at the Oxford School of Architecture but amusingly, both the tutors and I agreed before the end of the second year, that I was unlikely to become the next Sir Christopher Wren. So I left the course and went to work for a small wine company thinking that it would be a useful way to earn some cash whilst looking for a proper career. Over thirty five years later I am still pondering what that career might be and in the meantime I have three strings to the wine bow, so to speak. The areas I focus on, in fluctuating orders of importance, are the Wine Themed Events business, trading ultra-fine wines and acting as an advisor to people who see fine wine as a potential investment vehicle. Either way there is usually an excuse to have a sip of something rewarding.
What type of Wine Themed Events do you arrange?
The story of wine is almost infinite and people seem to want to know more. My success is built on a wide variety of adaptable wine themes to make wine a pleasure rather than something too academic. The most popular themes are probably The Marriage of Food & Wine where we specialise in showing how a wine can be made to jump through hoops with different foods before serving some food which is idyllically complimentary. Another one is What a Difference a Year Makes where we present pairs of wines, from the same producer, but grown one year apart for people to judge simultaneously what they prefer. Wine is all about making perfect grapes to turn into perfect wine but if your growing season is marred by low temperatures and cloud, then producing perfection is a real challenge. We carefully select consecutive years where the weather was totally different resulting in very diverse wines.
The main point, regardless of theme, is that palates differ as much as people’s preferences for art and music and finding pleasure from wine is sometimes as simple as varying the food with which it is served or trying many vintages of the same wine, to work out which one you prefer.
When it comes to wine trading what are the driving forces?
There are many iconic wines from all over the world and people who enjoy drinking them because they can afford to, or others simply wanting to add those wines to their tasting bucket list. Either way there is money to be made by buying popular wines and advertising their availability to a broad international audience. As some wines get older the taste improves and people trawl the planet to be able to buy more. The task becomes increasingly difficult with time and the result is usually an increase in price from which profits can be derived. I am involved as CEO of one business (Barrique Vintners Limited) where our average price is around £250 per bottle but our most expensive is over £15,000 per bottle. Price is a factor of quality in a smallish part but exclusivity is one of the main drivers. The £15k bottles are from Burgundy where Domaine de la Romanée Conti make around 200 cases of ‘Romanee Conti’ each year, for a planet with 7 billion people – the only defence is price…
Has Wine Investment been a lucrative pastime?
There is no simple answer to this but when running wine investment funds as I have, the key that has allowed my clients to make money is to charge small fees and to buy wines at the Bid rather than the Offer. Wine selection is key and if all the factors are aligned then returns of 6% to 10% per year on average, are not unrealistic. It is a very simple model of a high quality commodity with diminishing supply and so when demand outstrips availability, the prices rise. My motto has been “you do not need to be an expert to make money from wine, just work with one”
What sort of wines do you drink at home?
My wife and I readily admit that we enjoy a glass or two on a fairly regular basis, but with my connections in the wine world the goal is to drink rewarding wines at a sensible price – for us that budget is between £8 and £20 per bottle.
Some of our favourites which we also supply to clients include as follows:
Pinot Blanc, 2016, Hugel, Alsace £11.75 per bt
Te Mata, Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 Hawkes Bay, NZ £13.75 per bt
Chablis, 2017, Domaine William Fevre £16.90 per b
Chateau Lamothe Cissac, 2015 Cru Bourgeois £12.95 per bt
Prats & Symington, Post Scriptum 2016, Douro, Portugal £15.50 per bt
Vergelegen, DNA, 2013, Stellenbosch, South Africa £17.60 per bt
Away from the wine world how do you like to spend your time?
I had a very agreeable 15 years playing Rugby and whilst I hung up my boots years ago I still follow the fortunes of Richmond FC (In 1861 they did not use the letters ‘RFC’). As an ex Richmond Heavy (veterans side) I am becoming more involved in their cycling antics. I also sing with a Chamber Choir and without a doubt, the wine helps!
Cheers and thanks for your time Peter!