London-based Crurated has announced it has raised €3m (£2.5m) to further build-out its business, which aims to better connect fine wine connoisseurs to world-class producers.
Investors include wine expert Chris Van Aeken, as well as other private fine wine collectors and entrepreneurs, said Crurated.
Founded in May 2021, Crurated sources bottles direct from top wineries, with an initial focus on France and Italy, such as Champagne Louis Roederer (Cristal), Domaine Meo-Camuzet, Domaine Arnoux Lachaux and Biondi Santi.
Wines are then offered to its members via a sealed bid process, and those making successful bids are notified within 72 hours of the offer window closing. Buyers then have 48 hours to complete payment, which includes a 2.5% processing fee, according to the group’s website.
Since launch, the group said it has attracted more than 500 members and generated revenue in excess of €5m.
Wines are only sourced from winery cellars, the group said, with blockchain technology being used to offer buyers a guarantee of provenance.
Each wine entering Crurated’s storage facilities in Burgundy is assigned a non-fungible token (NFT), a digital tool that can act as an ownership certificate but which also has a number of possible applications in the wine world.
Fresh funding will be used to ‘further build our blockchain and NFT technology’, as well as to expand the company’s reach in Tuscany and Piedmont, and in the Rhône, it said.
‘We offer clients full traceability from the moment it leaves the producer’s cellar to the moment it arrives at their own,’ said Crurated founder Alfonso de Gaetano, who launched the company while continuing in his role as a director at Google, based in Dubai.
As a collector and enthusiast of fine wines for several years, he told Decanter that he became interested in how a digital-first company could benefit producers by connecting them more closely with collectors, while also ‘giving the possibility to clients, especially new, younger collectors, to actually access wines that are almost impossible to get [on the market]’.
As part of a sealed bid auction process, Crurated members can submit only one offer for a wine.
Sometimes prices can match or even top those on the market, particularly given the pristine provenance of the bottles, but in general ‘the prices that people are paying are on average around 20 to 30% below secondary market price’, de Gaetano said.
The emphasis is very much on buying wines to drink or keep. ‘First of all, we want people to drink. If you go to our platform you will never see any words about investing in wines,’ he said.
There are four tiers of membership, ranging from the free-of-charge ‘explorer’ level to ‘ambassador’, which costs €6,000 per year or €600 per month. Some wines are only available to certain member types.
Looking ahead, de Gaetano said the group has plans to expand on the tech side but is also keen to increase its roster of producers. ‘We are going to cover all the best producers in general in France and Italy before moving to other markets,’ he said.
Crurated has also been hosting dinners and events for its member community, in partnership with producers. ‘On one side we are really pushing technology, but on the other side I love the idea of bringing the people back around the table,’ said de Gaetano.
A shareholder meeting to mark Crurated’s one-year anniversary will be held in Alba, Piedmont.