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US e-commerce platform Lot18 set for UK launch

The New York-based wine e-commerce website Lot18 is launching in London this week, aiming to quickly repeat the success of its US and French models.

Blancaneaux: ‘small allocation’

Lot 18
, which launched in the US in November 2010, sources wines worldwide for limited-time offers to members.

Offers will typically expire in 48 hours: ‘The idea is not to build a gigantic catalogue but to have constantly-revolving stock,’ European general manager Will Armitage said.

The US site, which last year raised just under US$45m in venture capital fundraising, has 800,000 members. The French site, which launched two months ago after a deal with e-commerce site Vinobest. has 120,000 members.

In the US they work with around 550 wineries and said they would expect to have 200 wineries on the UK site within the first six months.

Armitage said the idea was not to supply wines cheaper necessarily, but to source difficult-to-find parcels, although there would be ‘efficiencies’ from the internet-based model.

The UK site will launch with a short-list of wines including Chateau Pontet Canet 1995 at £90 per bottle and Rubicon Estate Blancaneaux 2009 from Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook Estate in Napa at £42.50.

The latter satisfies the ‘difficult to find’ criterion: Inglenook’s importer New Generation Wines told Decanter.com they were given 20 six-bottle cases for the whole of the UK. Some of these have been passed on to Lot18.

Lot18’s buying team – 15 sommeliers and buyers operating worldwide – will source wines for all three sites.

Co-founder Philip James, who also founded wine site Snooth, said; ‘We hope to be the site for wine amateurs looking to grow and expand their knowledge and interest.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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