Using technology to nurture a passion for wines and spirits

Crurated – Innovative company offering complete transparency in the buying of wines and spirits

Originally from Italy, Alfonso de Gaetano has spent the past 15 years in Dubai. After an ankle injury, he made the leap from a professional soccer player to a career in business and technology. He has spent the past decade at Google, where he was the Director of Google Publishers business across EMEA Emerging Markets. Burgundy is the region that made him first fall in love with wine, and he often makes long drives from Burgundy to his wine cellars around Europe to ensure bottles arrive safely and in perfect condition.

Prior to Google he worked in strategy consulting and M&A for Booz&Company, CapGemini, and Dubai Financial Group. He received an MBA from STOA Business School and did his undergraduate in materials engineering at FedericoII University. 

Alfonso founded Crurated in 2021 to create a community of fellow connoisseurs that could come together virtually and physically around the globe to discover, learn and acquire wine from the hands of the best domaines themselves.

What is the mission of Crurated?

The mission is about becoming the best platform for the next generation of collectors. We are techcentric, meaning we really use technology to nurture the passion of people around wines and now spirits.

Our goal is to use the value of blockchain and bring transparency in terms of where the bottle comes from and what are all the different steps before the bottle reaches the table of the client.

CL Bourgogne Aligoté Les Champs d Argent 2018

After all, the big challenge for many collectors to think about before buying or opening a bottle is where does this bottle come from? And they know the difference of a bottle coming from a cellar – especially if it’s an old vintage – from a bottle that you might find in a shop which may not be stored at perfect temperatures.

Our experience told us that if we have to use blockchain for traceability, the only way for to do it is to work directly with each producer. Buying a bottle in the market offers no clarity about the journey until it reaches the specific distributor or shop and so on.

What makes you different?

Being able to prove that every bottle comes from the cellar of a producer, especially old vintages, I think it’s a great differentiator.

The other thing that makes us unique is the business model – we don’t buy and sell. We work closely with producers to sell their wines directly from the cellar to the clients. We have built a company to bring more value to these fantastic producers. We wanted to make sure that everything that we do is super transparent. The producers know when they give us wines, what’s happening to the wines, and in which markets are they going. This kind of transparency is great not just for the client, but also for the producer.

CL Bourgogne La Croix Blanche 2018

The other thing that is differentiating is that we are really developing a lot of interesting technology. For example, in January we announced the launch of the first metaverse with blockchain. You will be able to put a VR on your face and be able to walk in your cellar and see all the bottles that you bought, as if you are in your own real cellar. When you touch a bottle, when you take a bottle, you can actually start to see all the information in blockchain.

How did you actually change the paradigm in wine in Hong Kong?

What we learned, especially here inHong Kong, is that the client is very sophisticated, and what they really love about Crurated is the fact that they can see where the bottle comes from. I think it makes a big difference – especially in Asia – because a lot of bottles are going around the world before landing on the table of a client. Knowing the perfect provenance of the bottle from the producer going directly to client, it’s a massive differentiator. And getting that certainty was really important in getting a lot of fantastic collectors from Hong Kong. 

Are you seeking to change the paradigmin spirits in Hong Kong in the same the same vein?

Today we have around 5300 members from all around the world. I think Hong Kong represents around 7% or 8% of that total. And most of them are wine centric, but they also like spirits. Some of them are big in both, but the approach is very similar. When we decide to work with a specific supplier, we want to make sure that first of all, everything comes directly from them.

We now work with some of the top winemakers, and in spirits, we are trying to do exactly the same, getting some very special casks and some exclusive relationships.

Are there any characteristics about the Hong Kong market which makes Crurated suited to servicing the client base in Hong Kong?

I believe that, people here, they really love a couple of things. They like access the top links, and we have many, such as all the top names in Bordeaux. We only work with the very best producers, mainly from Europe at this stage.

And the other thing that we really try to do is to focus on what we call the rising stars. We have seven people in our team just focusing on the research on the new great young producers in the regions that we cover. We visit and meet a lot of new producers. And select if we want to work or not with specific new producers and bring that new producer on our platform.

Our clients know that everything we have is something that we recommend. And I think that in this market, there are a lot of curious wine lovers that love to try the new young producers.And when they try something new and they love it, that’s how you build even better connections and trust with the client base. We see in Hong Kong more curiosity than we see in other Asian markets. The clients are much more sophisticated.

Who do you think would benefit in Hong Kong from becoming members and what are the benefits?

We have different membership schemes where there are different levels of access to the collections that we sell. Another priority is being part of the events or the wine tools that we offer.

We also have one membership that is free, that we call explorer, where people can explore to the platform. But it’s a great way for people to try the platform for free. They can then upgrade to other membership tiers.

We also have one membership that is free, that we call explorer, where people can explore to the platform. But it’s a great way for people to try the platform for free. They can then upgrade to other membership tiers.

There are quite a lot of benefits, from shipping to free storage. I think the most important thing is the access to these great producers. We also launched fractional bottles, where you can see the bottle and you can select how many litres you want, and then you can decide to convert in the formats that you like.

The most important thing for every client is that everything they do on the platform is available in real time. The moment they buy it, they can see on the platform exactly what they have, and then they can also see the provenance of each bottle.