NFT and Grand Cru: a great upheaval in the world of wine

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Laurent David, co-owner of Château Edmus (Saint Emilion), still can’t believe it. In May, through auction actor iDealwine, the 51-year-old former Apple executive put ten numbered collectible magnums up for sale. Starting price: 1 euro. The results of the auctions are worthy of the prices of such stars of the vineyard as Petrus. “Magnum No. 1 sold for 5,300 euros a bottle, and the average selling price was 2,400 euros a bottle,” according to this data from the French company Wine Tech, whose grand cru usually sells for about fifty euros a bottle. An explanation for this discrepancy? Laurent David created for each of his magnums a kind of digital twin signed by a very fashionable punk artist: tattoo artist Dimitri H.K.

It is a completely inviolable certificate of ownership based on blockchain technology that specifically insures bitcoins, called NFT for Non-Fungible Token (“non-fungible token”). Therefore, enthusiasts who flock to Edmus magnums are purchasing a collection wine, the origin of which is 100% guaranteed thanks to an electronic chip melted in cork wax, and which is stored on a site protected by iDealwine. At the same time, they indulge in a unique digital work of art. Laurent David and Dimitri H.K. brought the performance to the point that they provided each buyer with a printed edition of this work!

The Magic of NFTs: These certificates, like the wine they authenticate, can rise in value. Sort of like a stock. A little more subtlety: the original issuer, the one who created the NFT (here – the entrepreneur Laurent David), will receive a percentage of each resale. A way to fight the scourge of the wine market: speculation, which enriches intermediaries at the expense of owners. But the happy owner of NFT wine can also simply “burn” it, that is, take the bottle from storage and drink it. “In this case, the authentication disappears, the NFT no longer exists, but you inherit a digital signature certifying that you have tasted this bottle, which is also of interest to collectors,” says Laurent David. There is no limit to the narcissism of wine lovers…

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Has the world of great collectible wines found its martingale? Surrounded by speculation, insane prices, the ubiquity of fakes, the low profitability of land, and the difficulty of tracking down its end users, it is very interested in this promising technology. “The last point is undoubtedly central: large estates want to rediscover their relationships with their precious clientele, recycle them, just like houses in the world of luxury do,” explains entrepreneur Xavier Garambois.

This former head of Amazon’s online trading in Europe has been preparing for two decades to launch WineChain, its NFT marketplace, which will likely be up and running before next Christmas. The young escape has already raised 1.2 million euros to start offering prestigious castles the possibility of issuing special NFTs, with or without the collaboration of the artists. Xavier Garambois also points out that luxury homes since Balenciaga have been the first to experiment with NFT since 2020.

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In great wines, several experiments have already been undertaken since the end of 2021 by prestigious names such as Opus One, Angélus, Dom Pérignon… which does not necessarily guarantee success. Bordeaux-based wine merchant Lasserre & Papillon has just released a collection of several thousand ‘nefied’ bottles as part of its Wine Bottle Club art project. Another Bordeaux market pro, Maison Bouey, announced in May that it was launching its first Primeur bottle campaigns using NFT technology. “There’s a little Wild West side, so everyone is trying something new,” explains the champagne actor in the center. Indeed, in the absence (at the moment) of specific regulations, wine NFTs are sold freely, without any customs duties or taxes. Joy of the New Digital World.


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