Awards and citations:


1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for investdrinks.org

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award




Thursday, 27 October 2011

1855 (1855.com): correspondence with Fabien Hyon

 1855's offices in Paris

Before my latest news story about 1855 was published on decanter.com I exchanged several emails with Fabien Hyon, now managing director of the 1855 group. In view of the continued concern* over the delay in delivering the 2008 en primeurs as well as previous vintages, I think it is now helpful to post this correspondence in its entirety bearing particular attention to what Fabien Hyon says about 'de vente à découvert' (short selling or buying once the bottled wines have been put on the market) and that 1855 do have allocations with the Bordeaux châteaux.

* See three recent messages here from concerned customers of 1855.

*


My initial email to Fabien Hyon: 6th October 2011 

Dear Fabien Hyon

I have been asked by Decanter to write an update on 1855 and the outstanding Bordeaux en primeur deliveries.

I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions: 

Some clients of 1855 are waiting for en primeur orders back at least as far as 2001. When do you expect that 1855 will be able to fulfil these orders? How many cases remain to be delivered?

The 2008 Bordeaux en primeurs should have been delivered to your clients in June. From many messages I have received it is clear that a number of your clients are still awaiting their wine. When will all the 2008 Bordeaux en primeurs be delivered to 1855's clients?

What assurances can you give that 1855's clients will receive their 2009 and 2010 en primeurs?

As it appears that 1855 buys 'en primeurs' once they have been bottled and placed on the market, is it not misleading to describe these sales as 'en primeur'?

I will be filing this story tomorrow morning, so I would be grateful for your response by 9.30 (French time) tomorrow (7th October) please.

Regards 

Jim Budd   

*

Response from Fabien Hyon: 6th October 2011

Jim Budd,

- As far as "old Primeurs" are concerned, we still experience some delays in deliveries but, as you have surely noticed and will no-doubt mention to your readers, many clients that you have been in contact with have received their wines since then. Deliveries are still going on and all clients will receive their wines.

- As far as the 2008 Bordeaux Primeurs are concerned, they are delivered from june through december 2011. Deliveries have started and will take place until the end of the year. All our employees work hard on making sure we do not experience further delays.

- Regarding the 2009 and 2010 Bordeaux Primeurs — as mentioned in previous emails —  you do need to read the Annual Report of our company, listed on the french stock-market, as measures have been taken to improve quality of service since 2010. DELOITTE has audited the Bordeaux Primeurs portfolio and then wrote on  the « évolution du modus operandi en matière de Bordeaux Primeurs » and then clearly  stated that «  la société a soldé la totalité de ses positions ouvertes de vins de Bordeaux vendus dans le passé à ses clients à travers des commandes à prix fermes et définitifs. Elle achète désormais ses primeurs au moment des ventes au fur et à mesure de ses besoins, à prix fermes et définitifs. » This will ensure that everything will get better. Therefore your statement mentioning that " 1855 buys 'en primeurs' once they have been bottled and placed on the market" is false and misleading.

Please confirm reception of our answers.

_________________________________

Fabien Hyon
Directeur Général

1855
Le plus grand choix de vins sur internet

10, rue des Moulins - 75001 Paris, France
Tel :  +33 (0) 1 42 61 64 55

*

My response: 7th October 2011

Dear Fabien Hyon

Thank you for your response.

If 1855 is now truly buying all the en primeurs its customers order during the en primeur season rather than 'de vente à découvert' this is a welcome development. However, it is clear that the "old Primeurs" were not bought en primeur. If they had been then 1855's problems with its en primeur deliveries – now dating back at least to the 2001 vintage – would not have happened.

Regarding 2008 these were originally due to be delivered to your customers in June. Delaying the delivery from June to December suggests that 1855 did not source all of the 2008s at the time your customers placed their orders. Otherwise why could these orders not have been delivered on time? In December other merchants will be starting to deliver the 2009 en primeurs.

Regards   

Jim Budd  


*

Response from Fabien Hyon: 7th October 2011

'If 1855 is now truly buying all the en primeurs its customers order during the en primeur season rather than 'de vente à découvert' this is a welcome development. However, it is clear that the "old Primeurs" were not bought en primeur. If they had been then 1855's problems with its en primeur deliveries – now dating back at least to the 2001 vintage – would not have happened.'

No, false. You even received messages from Châteaux saying that they already delivered all their wines to 1855... which means that we had allocations. Writing that "it is clear that the "old Primeurs" were not bought en primeur" is a false statement, misleading for which you received contradictory information and would therefore decide to hide to serve your purpose. I understand that it would "sell better" your way, but it is simply not the case. Stick to the facts.

The issue was (and it was clearly mentioned in my initial email but you choose not to take it into account) that we could not pay — due to financial issues in 2008 — the REMAINING amount of SOME of the Bordeaux Primeurs ALLOCATIONS to negociants. And what do they do then ? Cancel and sell it to somone else as prices went up and we therefore had to get SOME of the wines back. Not ALL of them as you try to state in your email. 

Bottom line : FACTS. Do we still have wines to deliver ? Yes. Are we late, Yes. Do the facts say than the situation is better than a year ago when you contacted me ? Yes. Do you have proof of it with the messages you receive from delivered clients ? Yes. Will you write that the situation is improving ? No. Why not ? It does not sell your side of the "end of the world is coming soon" story. And I am pretty  sure you will ignore this message as it goes against — with facts — your misleading statements as you did the last time your wrote in DECANTER. Sad but true, and I can not do much about it.


'Regarding 2008 these were originally due to be delivered to your customers in June. Delaying the delivery from June to December suggests that 1855 did not source all of the 2008s at the time your customers placed their orders. Otherwise why could these orders not have been delivered on time? In December other merchants will be starting to deliver the 2009 en primeurs.'

No. False. As you already know, we had many deliveries delayed of Primeurs, and as you can aknowledge — but that you will not do because it does not sell your own story — from the emails you received from customers, 1855 has delivered many of them over the last few months. This has requested energy, people and means that could not be put into delivering all 2008. And again, all deliveries have not been delayed, deliveries are happening and it just takes time to do everything. And to be clear, there are some Primeurs 2009 that were already sold in September ins stores... and that does not make some of our competitors that will deliver in december having problems, does it ?

Well at least we do agree on one thing, to use your own words "Shamefully poor sloppy and irresponsible journalism RVF!"  When all clients will be delivered, and that you will therefore have no longer any reason to go personal, I will gladly meet you to discuss the RVF journalism. I am sure it will be interesting.

*


My response to Fabien Hyon: 7th October 2011

Dear Fabien Hyon

Thank you for your message.

I fear you are mistaken I have not received any messages from the Bordeaux châteaux saying that they have delivered wines to 1855. As you believe this to be the case please forward me details of these messages.

On the contrary in two instances clients of 1855 have passed onto me supportive mails from châteaux owners – one of them Florence Cathiard, who wrote to 1855 earlier this year:

'Monsieur,

Voici une lettre qui nous scandalise.
Merci de livrer sous 48 heures nos 2005 à Mr. *****.
Vous m’aviez assuré que ce genre d’incident ne se renouvellerait pas.
Veuillez tenir votre promesse ou jeudi prochain je suis à Paris et j’en réfère de vive voix à votre actionnaire avant d’appuyer une action légale.'


Florence Cathiard
Château Smith Haut Lafitte
F-33650 MARTILLAC
Tél. : 05 57 83 11 22
Fax : 05 57 83 11 21
f.cathiard@smith-haut-lafitte.com

When this produced no response Smith Haut-Lafitte wrote again to 1855 in late July:   

'Voici une nouvelle pièce pour nourrir le dossier à charge que nous constituons au Château contre vos pratiques lamentables, et qui rejoindra celui monté par les groupes organiques qui préparent une action collective.
Il ne se passe pas un mois sans que nous ne rencontrions des gens furieux de n’avoir pas reçu les vins qu’ils ont pourtant payés au moment où vous leur demandiez.
Je vous demande de retirer nos vins de vos listes de vins primeurs, d’autant que vous ne respectez pas les prix de revente que nous avons recommandés aux négociants.
Vous nous avez annoncé fièrement l’acquisition de ChâteauOnline au mois de Mars, et nous recevions le même jour une plainte de Mr Krivine qui attend toujours la livraison des 2005 qu’il a acheté en primeur ! Je vous ai écrit en suivant et vous n’avez même pas fait l’effort de répondre. Même intolérable non-réaction  de votre part après ma réponse à votre message du 29 Avril annonçant des bénéfices de 528k€ (sur des données préliminaires non auditées…).
Je vous épargne volontiers le détail des conclusions que j’ai pu tirer ce cette situation, de ces plaintes régulières d’amateurs qui ont cru en vous et en vos annonces. Il va de soi que notre soutien sans faille sera apporté à ces clients lésés, puisque vous ne m’avez jamais répondu.
A vous de me prouver que mon idée sur votre entreprise est fausse.
Maintenant que la campagne primeurs est terminée, et puisque visiblement les expéditions ne vous prennent pas trop de temps, peut-être pourrez-vous me répondre ?

David ORNON
Directeur Commercial
Château Smith Haut Lafitte
33650 BORDEAUX-MARTILLAC FRANCE
Tel : +33 (0) 557 83 11 22 - +33 (0) 678 27 56 27
Fax : +33 (0) 557 83 11 21
d.ornon@smith-haut-lafitte.com'


**** *****  received his 2005 en primeurs in August 2011 but two and a half years late. Two and a half years of unsuccessful letters and phonecalls, emails and letters to Brocheton (DGCCRF). 

Regards

Jim Budd 

*

Response from Fabien Hyon: 7th October 2011

1 - It is actually a fairly simple fiunamental of journalists : check your sources :
- ask CATHIARD if she had given allocations to 1855 in the past ? I give you a hint : YES.
- ask M. ***** if he has received his wines ? another hint : YES

2 - Do not turn around what I wrote again : I did not write that we had support from Chateaux, I said that they have delivered allocations in the past ant that you writing that "it is clear that the "old Primeurs" were not bought en primeur" is a false statement, misleading for which you received contradictory information and would therefore decide to hide to serve your purpose. I understand that it would "sell better" your way, but it is simply not the case. 

Again, stick to the facts.

_________________________________

Fabien Hyon
Directeur Général


*

My response to Fabien Hyon: 7th October 2011

Dear Fabien Hyon

Thank you for your message.

This morning you claimed that 'You even received messages from Châteaux saying that they already delivered all their wines to 1855... which means that we had allocations.' 

I told you that I had not received any messages from any Bordeaux château about sending wine to 1855. I asked you to send me details of these messages. Do you have these details please?

'ask CATHIARD if she had given allocations to 1855 in the past ? I give you a hint : YES.' 

This is not at issue. Florence Cathiard was complaining in 2011 about 1855's failure to deliver 2005s to a client, who should have received their wines during 2008.

'ask M. **** if he has received his wines ? another hint : YES'

My previous message makes it clear that M. ***** did eventually receive his wines after two and a half years of frustration.  

Florence Cathiard is not alone in her anger, here is a recent message to a frustrated 1855 customer from a leading Pauillac château: 

'Dear Sir
Reading your mail we totally understand your irritation. Unfortunately you are not the first customer of 1855.com who complain about the failure in delivery. As wine-producer we don’t sale any wines to this company which is known for selling wines they don’t have in stocks and never bought .It’s just a financial business using internet for gambling…we suggest you to try to be refund as quick as possible! We feel very sorry for you (and us) to see this type of business trying to kill the image of our production.
I, dearly hope that they will be send in justice once again.
Sincerely yours'  

'Again, stick to the facts.'

Sticking to the facts: two further questions please:

a) How bottles of  "old primeurs" remain to be delivered to your customers?

b) How many legal actions have been brought by customers against 1855? Comments on La Passion du Vin forum suggests that this is somewhere between 100 and 1000. What is the current figure please?

Regards

Jim Budd   

*

Response from Fabien Hyon: 7th October 2011

‘I told you that I had not received any messages from any Bordeaux château about sending wine to 1855. I asked you to send me details of these messages. Do you have these details please?’

We have all invoices from all châteaux since we started the company. You ask the question, you have our answer and position. Should you read the documentation on our company for the last five years, you would find all this info.
Now, it is a never ending story, should I provide you with anything, you will ask : is it true, is it fake ?  So call all  Chateaux (I will help you on this matter : Cos, Smith, Yquem, Lagrange,...) and ask if we had allocations of the vintages you mention. 



'ask CATHIARD if she had given allocations to 1855 in the past ? I give you a hint : YES.' 
This is not at issue. Florence Cathiard was complaining in 2011 about 1855's failure to deliver 2005s to a client, who should have received their wines during 2008.

Great, but do not return the situation : you answered to the fact that Chateaux do not give us allocations by this letter. Glad to read that you do agree that it has nothing to do with allocations.



'ask M.*****  if he has received his wines ? another hint : YES'

My previous message makes it clear that M. ***** did eventually receive his wines after two and a half years of frustration.  
Florence Cathiard is not alone in her anger, here is a recent message to a frustrated 1855 customer from a leading Pauillac château: 

Again, read my previous messages this morning, you have the answer below again in case you missed it. People are right to be angry for our late delivery, but we are delivering and working on it to improve.
That does not serve your story, sorry for that, but these is facts.
"
Bottom line : FACTS. Do we still have wines to deliver ? Yes. Are we late, Yes. Do the facts say than the situation is better than a year ago when you contacted me ? Yes. Do you have proof of it with the messages you receive from delivered clients ? Yes. Will you write that the situation is improving ? No. Why not ? It does not sell your side of the "end of the world is coming soon" story. And I am pretty  sure you will ignore this message as it goes against — with facts — your misleading statements as you did the last time your wrote in DECANTER. Sad but true, and I can not do much about it.
"

a) How bottles of  "old primeurs" remain to be delivered to your customers?

b) How many legal actions have been brought by customers against 1855? Comments on La Passion du Vin forum suggests that this is somewhere between 100 and 1000. What is the current figure please?

All information that is to be shared is available all in our rapport annuel. it is public and certified by DELOITTE. Cross-check the figures, check your sources.


In any case, from reading your answer, I understand that any answer (even based on audited facts and figures) that do not serve your story will be dismissed or turned into a personal attack. I can not do much against that.

*

My response to Fabien Hyon 7th October 2011

Dear Fabien Hyon

There appears to be continued confusion here. You claimed this morning in your email of 09.11 that: 'You even received messages from Châteaux saying that they already delivered all their wines to 1855... which means that we had allocations.'

Once again I have received no messages from any Bordeaux châteaux about deliveries to 1855. Whether or not 1855 have allocations is not germane here. All I'm asking is for you to back up this allegation.

Regards

Jim Budd

    


Name plate@10 Rue des Moulins, Paris





21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see Mrs Cathiard's Smith Haut Lafitte 2010 en primeur is still on sale on the 1855 site, despite her request that Mr Hyon delist this château.

Luc Charlier said...

I cannot believe it, Jim.
And the time you put in it !
Even given due allowance for the nuances and subtleties that will be “lost in translation” in the case of M. Hyon, this guy goes beyond all limits of treachery.
By the way, I met gracious Florence Cathiard and her husband several times just after they had taken over Smith Haut-Lafite. Never would it cross Léon’s mind to refer to her simply as “Cathiard”, although I don’t belong to their privileged world.
I can only repeat what I already mentioned in several posts: look at the videos of these 1855 people, the “mon père m’a fait un beau cadeau”-story and all that, at how they introduce themselves, what they think of themselves, how they consider business and especially customers. Foulness drips from all they touch. They stink ! Even the heavy traffic’s fumes of la Porte Dauphine were they once went to college will not allow their b.o. to vanish.

Jim Budd said...

I couldn't possible comment Luc!

As the leading Bordeaux châteaux sell through Le Place (the négociants), there is presumably no way they can stop any company listing their wines or stop them from buying the wines.

It is very regrettable that the Bordelais have yet to summon up the balls to warn potential customers that there are problems with 1855 and that they would be better off sourcing their en primeurs from other more reliable sources.

Anonymous said...

Mister Fabien Hyon wrote - 7th October 2011 : [i]"The issue was (and it was clearly mentioned in my initial email but you choose not to take it into account) that we could not pay — due to financial issues in 2008 — the REMAINING amount of SOME of the Bordeaux Primeurs ALLOCATIONS to negociants. And what do they do then ? Cancel and sell it to somone else as prices went up and we therefore had to get SOME of the wines back."[/i]

The only question to stick with as long no clear answer is given is :

How comes 1855.com did not have enough money to totally pay its allocations as every bottle ordered "en primeur" by a customer is always immediately paid by him at the asked 1855.com price (no order is officialized as long the total amount due is not credited to 1855.com’s bank account) ?

A sufficient price allowing 1855.com :
. To buy immediately every ordered bottle from its source (Chateau or main negociant) during the "Primeurs" period of selling.
. To make some good benefit on each bottle regarding the normal difference between the price paid by a professionnal getting direct allocations from domains and the final suggested "retail price".

Do they used/use the money paid by their customers to other tasks, that the one and only they shall pursue when they receive such sums ?

In such a case 1855.com and Mister Fabien Hyon could be indicted with embezzlement a serious criminal offence.

Regarding that issue:

Year after year at the time wines were supposed to be delivered, 1855.com asked to its customers to pay the remaining VAT on their orders – a tax payment, which shall be requested only when bottles are actually in 1855.com’s stock.

But obviously every time 1855.com was not able to deliver, the company and it’s managers knew they were requesting this tax payment without any bottle to be delivered.
That shall also be regarded as embezzlement, a criminal offence.

Jim Budd said...

Anon. The practice of 1855 charging their customers for transport and tax for wine that appears not to be their possession, even though at the time of demanding payment 1855 normally claim that the wine will be delivered in 10 days time is seriously open to question.

Hervé Lalau said...

Interesting (French) debate on the Grand Jury blog about the RVF, 1855, advertising, etc..

http://gje.mabulle.com/index.php/2011/10/03/203329-un-vrai-malaise-a-la-rvf

Bon Vivant said...

Dear Jim,
Once again, i lift my glass to your action. Bravo for what you do constantly.
Nicolas de Rouyn

Jim Budd said...

Nicolas. Many thanks – look forward to sharing a glass ensemble! Jim

Jim Budd said...

Hervé. Certainly an interesting debate with RVF highlighting a poor performance by 1855 in 2010. Will be interesting to see the figures for 2011 once they have been officially audited.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim, thank you for being active on this matter. I personally ordered my fisrts 15 bottles of en primeur from 1855 only a few months these 2006`s were to be deliverd. I got three of these late-ordered bottles a couple of months late, but the remaining 12 bottles are still undelivered. Then came 2009 and the selling of 2008´s- a wonderful opportunity to buy some of the most prestigious wines rrelatively cheap. I jumped at the opportunity. Although I should have been warned by the delay of my still undelivered 2006´s, I went on buying a significant amount of 2009´s and even 2010´s.

Now, I have not received a single bottle of my 2008 premier growths, Palmer etc. and do not expect that I have a lot of a reason to trust in the reception of anything else (2009-2010), either- a total of around 5000 euros worth of wine...
I do not understand French, so I do not know what is going on other websites, but you gave a good update! I have to say that I have order a lot of wine (over 15 deliveries) from 1855.com and have always received (althoug late) everythíng else other than the en primeurs. I guess that´s why I trusted them in the first place.
Yours,

MP

Jim Budd said...

MP. Please email me details of the en primeurs outstanding. Interesting that you rather confirm my suspicion that the problem with deliveries is largely confined to en primeur purchases. However, no less reprehensible for that!

Phil Myers said...

I am having similar problems with Chateau Online oredr, 6 bottles of:

Château Grand Corbin-Despagne 2008
Château Prieuré-Lichine 2008

I have fully paid for them including duty and delivery. They do not respond to any emails

Anonymous said...

Having the same problem as MP here. I ordered bottles from 1855 which I received which made me think there would be no problem with en primeur orders. I ordered quite a few 2008 primeur including some chateau Lafite but have not received any bottles yet. I managed to contact them a couple of time but I kept being told that my wine would be delivered next month... (first call in April 2011). I would rather want them to tell me that they cannot deliver the wine than driving me crazy and continue to push deadlines without any explanations... I am so frustrated, what can be done?

Sylvain

eric said...

Jim, great blog!I have been waiting for some 2008 Primeurs for a while now. Also a recent order is now 8 weeks late.
DO you have any advice as to what legal action i should take to get my wines or my money back. Do you have any knowledge of a collective action i should take? thank you
Eric

Jim Budd said...

Eric. Thanks. For legal action I suggest that the best thing to do is to look at the thread – Retard du Primeurs – on La Passion du Vin. There is plenty of advice on legal action in France but many pages to read!

Anonymous said...

Jim!

I applaud your efforts with this case and the cool you show in your replies to Mr. Hyon. I have undelivered wine from as far back as 2005!

The bottom line is of course that 1855.com hasn't fulfilled their side of the futures agreement; they have spent our money on something else than originally was agreed.

As a listed company, a probe into 1855.com should be of interest to the French watchdogs. I can't believe Deloitte is putting their stamp of approval on their books.

Jim Budd said...

Anon. You are right to wonder about the inactivity of the French authorities. Innocently put an unapproved grape variety into a Loire PetNat and the response is draconian. Continually fleece your customers while supported financially by Jean-Pierre Meyers (M Bettencourt) of L'Oréal and Nestlé and you appear to have carte blanche to continue comme en veux!

Anonymous said...

Interesting reading and actions undertaken. Well done Jim. I have lodged a claim with the DGCCRF (deparment from the Ministry of Economy in charge of Competition, Consumption & Fraud). They have been very reactive. Awaiting feedback from 1855

Jim Budd said...

Thanks Anon. Jim

Felix B. said...

I am still waiting for my 'en-primeur' delivery of Pontet-Canet 2008.... Unfortunately it is now January 2012 and they missed another promise.

Anonymous said...

It is now March 2013 and I still have not received 2008 Primeurs of Latour and Haut Brion. I have had to sue 1855 in Paris and yet still they obfuscate.