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Slatebin

Tom Cannavan, 09/09

The unusual name 'Slatebin' refers to a slate-lined wine storage cellar, based on the classic stone cellars of Bordeaux, found in the town-houses of Edinburgh's famous Georgian New Town. The name has also been chosen by the partners in a new wine venture started in Scotland's capital, that offers something if not revolutionary, then a little bit different.

   David Scott, Tony Fasson and Alastair Boogert (left to right in picture) are the trio behind Slatebin, and have dreamed up this concept of a wine buying and cellaring club that is both a potential investment vehicle, and a social and wine appreciation club for those people who love wine, but hope to build a cellar that might increase in value too.

Each is a successful Scottish businessman involved in the wine, food or hospitality trade, and each brings unique skills to the club, as well as a personal passion - and collection - of wine.

David Scott has been one of Edinburgh's most successful restaurateurs for 25 years, creating the Howies group and running it for 17 years before selling up in 2006. His role in Slatebin is mostly in the marketing and administrative side, whilst partner Tony Fasson is in charge of IT, membership and logistics. Tony is the man who helped develop Toptable.com, now Europe's largest online restaurant booking service, and he sits on the panel of judges for the Scottish Hotel of the Year Awards. The final member of the partnership is the wine man, Alastair Boogert. Alastair's 'day job' is buyer for large Scottish wine importer and distributor, William Morton, who are UK agents for Undurraga of Chile, Seifried Wines of New Zealand and Newton Johnson of South Africa amongst others. Alastair has built up fantastic connections in the world's great wine regions, especially Bordeaux and Burgundy, and his role is crucial in securing allocations of wines for members of Slatebin.

Join the club

Membership of Slatebin is going to be capped somewhere below 100 people according to Tony Fasson, as the club wants to maintain personal relationships with all members. I suspect the founders are keen that this really is a 'club' and not just an impersonal sales or investment service. Already there have been well-attended dinners for members which are very much social events (indeed I was introduced to Slatebin at an excellent members' dinner within the cosseting luxury of Edinburgh's Prestonfield House hotel) and these, plus tastings, vineyard visits and other social events for members are an intrinsic part of the club ethos. Slatebin will also purchase the occasional parcel direct from Bordeaux or Burgundy, to be offered directly to the membership with minimum profit margin.

Members must invest a minimum of £100 per month in buying wine through the club, with the majority of funds allocated to 'investment grade' wines and the balance to wines for drinking over 3 - 6 years. Many members will invest much more of course, or will make substantial one-off investments in specific wines or offers, all of which will be handled by Slatebin. The club has also arranged its own secure, climate-controlled bond for the storage of wines, with full replacement insurance and independent auditing, with tracking and reports available through the private members area of the web site.   

Already the club membership includes some of Scotland's top wine collectors, well-known hoteliers and restaurateurs and ex-pat wine lovers in Tokyo and Australia, keen to build a collection back in the UK. Some of Slatebin's members are serious investors in fine wine, amassing prestigious portfolios, whilst others simply enjoy more modest collecting and drinking, and the social side of the club. Certainly, the members I met at the recent dinner certainly seemed to enjoy their evening of wine, food and conversation - in fact, almost as much as David, Tony and Alistair did themselves!

For more details of Slatebin see their web site and by all means contact the founders for an informal chat - they'd be delighted to hear from you.

Read about the wines served at the Slatebin dinner.