Wine as an Investment, where to start? 

Collectors vs Investors?  

We all enjoy a glass of fine wine, but what is the fundamental difference between a wine connoisseur and those of us who have a sophisticated wine cellar? In our Midas interview with Andrew Azzopardi, Founder of Vintage’82 Wines, we asked him how investing in wine is different from buying rare and expensive bottles for your collection? He explained, “The difference between collecting and investing in wine, is that you know what the intended outcome may be, you take more time and extra care in the process.”  

Investing in wine can be overwhelming for those new to the scene. A general rule of thumb is to learn the value of the specific vineyards and vintages. The next step is then to gain knowledge of the market. As Andrew explains “you need to know your peers/buyers/creditors.” Andrew makes it simple, “Collectors vs Investors is simply the selling on of the wine. Investors are investing to sell off the wine to make a profit.” 

 

Know your source 

Like with anything of value, there can be fakes, fine wines are no different. To ensure you have a good bottle you need to know the ‘pedigree’ of the wine.

“Knowing and trusting your source is crucial,” says Andrew. “Authentication is key, you need to make sure your suppliers are genuine!”

Because it’s difficult to ascertain the classification of wine before it’s opened, you need to rely on expert opinions. As a result, certain wine experts’ opinions can have a major influence on prices. Factors such as age, condition, and provenance all become crucial. Much like a work of art, each bottle comes with a history that needs to be certified. “In order to command the price, you must be able to prove the providence of the source,” Andrew tells Midas.

 

Its all about the storage!

In order for your wine to hold any value, you must have absolute proof that your delicate bottles have been stored correctly. Once you have purchased your wine, you must ensure and be able to evidence, that it has been held in a professional establishment. 

Andrew stresses “if your wine is not stored correctly, it has zero value. If you want to sell it, you need to go the extra mile with the storage.” This, he explains “is the humidity of 75% and a temperature of 13-17 degrees.”  

  • No heat 
  • No light 
  • No vibration 
  • No inconsistencies  

Andrew always offers his investors the option to preserve their wine safely in numerous locations including Holland, Malta, and France (Bordeaux). 

Once you have your wine stored correctly, the last step is to register it in your name and get it fully insured.  

 

What makes a good investment? 

The influential factors on the value of wine are its ability to age, the value on the secondary market, and the producers’ track record for producing outstanding wine. The quality of the vintage, provenance, and rarity all increase the value of the bottle. “The historical argument for investing in wine was largely based on a wine’s capacity to improve with age” confirms Andrew.

The limitation of the stock is also paramount. Scarcity drives the prices high, the number of bottles produced also influences the price. “The place of birth and year the wine is produced means that it cannot be replicated. Wine is, therefore ‘finite’. This is when a fixed number of something is made and it can no longer be produced. If it is from a vintage year, it can’t be made again (unless you have a time machine!)”

He continues “All the most valuable wines have a limitation, limited production. It is impossible, for example, for a château to produce more of its vintage, therefore, as the wine is consumed and becomes more scarcer, the price rises.” He continues to explain that “It boils down to there being a limited supply, making it a collectible item. It’s all about supply and demand, and that’s what makes wine so interesting….” he exclaims!

 

Who is the ideal investor?

In Andrew’s opinion, what makes him ‘tick’, is “someone who is enthused by the buying history, the religion and the culture of the wine.” Not just someone who wants to make a quick buck!

When rare Bordeaux wine is put up for sale and there is limited stock, an allocation list is sanctioned by the chateau, each dealer is given a set amount. The wine is passed to their preferred negotiants who, in turn, allocate it to their Client. Andrew makes sure that his top investors get access to the allocation of the best wines!

The top five ‘first Growth’ chateaus that are used for collectible wines are considered to be Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut-Brion, and Chateau Mouton Rothschild. It may surprise you to know, that only a small amount of the Bordeaux sold for investment come from the aforementioned. Those created in these top chateaus are generally sold for vast consumption.

Another interesting fact is that, more recently, Burgundy (where the acreage is a quarter the size of Bordeaux) has had the top auction bids for bottles to be laid down for investment. Its top performers are Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Leroy and Armand Rousseau. (Source, Morgan Stanley How to Invest in Wine)

As a bonus for his best Clients, Andrew can arrange for them to visit one of the beautiful chateaus estates. Once there, they can have exclusive visitation to the vineyards, lunch with the winemakers, and even attend a gala dinner.

 

What are the risks?

As the bottles are delicate “physical damage to the bottles is the first risk.” Then Andrew goes a little deeper. He explains to Midas that “more complex issues, such as Sociological and Political issues” can also affect the value of a bottle. One such event was the “2008 financial crisis, which affected the demand for wine in Asia.” Overall though, the investment in wine is widely positive. In 2021 wine investment “outperformed the S&P 500 and was one of the safest areas to invest capably of providing a higher return than gold and diamonds” He explained.  

Andrew clearly loves what he does! He enthrallingly tells Midas that his favorite kind of investors is those “who want to have fun with their hobby! Drink the wine and make some money too!” He encourages clients to enjoy the wine more than the financial outcome. The financial outcome is just the cherry on the cake” he says, “so enjoy the journey!”  

If our article has intrigued you, we at Midas, are on hand to advise you as you take your first steps into the exciting world of wine investment. We can organise an exclusive consultation with Andrew, all you need to do is email us at hello@midas.mt or phone +356 99 380 982.

Quotes are taken from Midas Interview with Andrew Azzopardi, Founder of Vintage’82 Wine, February 2022  

 

Space travel – a once in a lifetime opportunity

 

It can be argued that once you see the earth from space, your perspective on the world changes. This is called ‘The Overview Effect’. “From this height you see all diversity and beauty of the world, and no amount of prior study or training can fully prepare anybody for the awe and wonder this inspires,” said Astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan.

We all gaze into the stars at times, letting our inner child wonder if blasting off into orbit is an experience only accessible to the elite. ‘Space, the final frontier’ does not have to be a topic of sci-fi’s anymore, as space travel for private tourists is not that far away. Right now, there are companies attempting to make exploring the orbit accessible to all. Their time frame may surprise you too, with the commercial space flight industry predicted to ‘take off’ within the next 5 years, space exploration will soon be possible for you! 

This article will guide you on how to get your first orbital adventure underway. We discuss your training, what to expect for accommodation and your daily activity options and experiences once you explore deep space. 

As you may know, the first commercial astronaut was Sir Richard Branson, who boarded his Virgin Galactic Rocket plane back in July over New Mexico. In his 1.5 hour mission, he reached an altitude where the sky turned black and the earth horizon curved. He plans to make this sub-orbital experience available to paying customers who can look down upon the earth for $450,000 a ticket.  

 

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Richard told the BBC “And why shouldn’t they (the general public) go to space? Space is extraordinary; the Universe is magnificent. I want people to be able to look back at our beautiful Earth and come home and work very hard to try to do magic to it, to look after it.” 

Morgan Stanley’s research forecasts that the global space industry could generate revenue of USD1 trillion or more in 2040. Other companies such as Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, which has a Federal Aviation Administration license for human spaceflight, is hoping to start space tourism flights in early 2022! Elon Musk with Space X, their competitor, is also planning to make longer orbital space travel soon possible.

Unchartered territories provide unchartered dangers. Training, of course, is paramount, but where would you go, and what does it entail? Zero Gravity training (weightlessness) is a much-needed skill for your launch and return to earth. It can be provided in one of the few global, purpose-built training centres that supply bespoke courses executed to fine-tune your body ready for launch!

You can experience Zero Gravity in a specially modified Boeing 727 called G Force One. On board, the pilot flies at an angle of 45 degrees until you achieve weightlessness. Once this is obtained, the fun can begin! You can do acrobatic space manoeuvres (parabolas) and experience lunar gravity (one 6th your body weight) and Martian gravity (one 3rd your body weight). 

Now in this new territory, where will you stay? The future is coming, imagine a holiday orbiting the earth? The Gateway Foundation has announced that the Voyager Station is deemed to be the first high-end hotel being created for space accommodation. Construction starts in 2026 and is due to open its 50,000 sq meter venue in 2027. It will be able to accommodate 440 guests in their own personal sleeping pods, and from its realm, you can witness the sunrise 16 times in one day! The hotel will orbit the earth and is deemed only fit for those with a sense of adventure, coupled with the appreciation for the finer things in life. 

 

A three-night stay in the Voyager Station will be $4.8 million, that’s 1.6 million per night! Although prices are now steep, the Gateway Foundation knows that they have to drop their charges dramatically to attract more customers-so watch this space!! (Pun intended).

In 2023 you can board the Soyuz rocket for a 10-day adventure, during which time you can experience several chosen ‘missions’. Imagine witnessing the earth rise over the bright side of the moon from less than a mile away. Visiting the International Space Station, where you can participate in research experiments for science, education, human factor research or commercial activities. However, the most exciting adventure of all would have to be conducting your very own spacewalk!

This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and would put you with only a handful of others in the world. You would be a pioneer of space travel, enjoying new orbital experiences.

We at Midas can launch you straight to the forefront of space tourism. Only 550 people have travelled into this uncharted territory since the beginning of space travel, and now, with our help, you can be the next!

 

Diamonds Are Forever!

Diamonds, the most popular gemstone, have connotations of high class and sophistication. They are associated with power, success, glamour and, of course, the symbol of devoted and ever-lasting LOVE.

1477 was the first time that diamonds were documented as the material symbolism of love when Archduke Maximillian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgund using a diamond ring. This is the oldest record of these precious gemstones being used as part of a marriage proposal.

This suggestion is optimised in the cleverly crafted 1947, De Beers advertising campaign, which used the tag line ’Diamonds Are Forever’. Diamonds are indeed indestructible, they will never wear down, scratch, or be destroyed. The symbolism behind being gifted a diamond indicating that a persons love will last forever and never fade. Diamonds in a ring indicate a lifelong commitment. They will last forever and can be passed down through generations to come as a precious family heirloom.

In the 1950s Marilyn Monroe reaffirmed that ‘Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend’ in the hit movie    ’Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. This increased their popularity furthermore. But what are the other reasons why they are known to be our ‘best friend’? 

  • They are a good investment, they can be traded at any point too.
  • They are seemingly ‘crisis-proof’ and hold value. 
  • The fact that they are highly quality controlled also makes them an even more attractive investment/purchase.

We all enjoy these glistening stones of beauty, but what do we really know about them? Let me explain a little more about these objects of desire and how they came to be! And what better place to begin than at the VERY beginning….

Formation

150-200 km below the surface of the earth, molten lamproite, and kimberlite magma combines, but the conditions have to be just right for diamonds to form. The pressure needs to be 45-60 kilobars and the heat 900-1300 degrees celsius to ensure the carbon atoms crystallise. 

The word “Diamond” comes from the Greek word “Adamas” which means “unconquerable and indestructible”. Diamonds are actually the hardest natural substance found on the Earth.

The oldest diamonds are believed to have been created around 3.3 Billion years ago, and were first discovered in India and shortly after in Brazil. South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Congo; however today, diamonds also found and mined inGuinea, Lesotho, Siera Leone, China, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Guyana, Central African Republic, Canada, and Australia. 

The top three diamonds mines in the world are: Botswana (24 million carats), Russia (17.8 million carats) and Canada (10.9 million carats).

Shapes

As we now know, diamonds are billions of years old, but it is only in the last centenary that the uncut diamonds have been transomed (cut), releasing their utmost beauty and light to become the beautiful items that we all treasure.

A facet is a ‘one side of something, many-sided, especially of a cut-gem.’ (Oxford English Dictionary)

With 57 facets, the most popular diamond cut and shape is the Round Brilliant (about three-quarters of all diamonds sold are round). Also popular is the Princess Cut, a square shaped formed from a crystal shape rough diamond. We also have the Cushion Cut that has become more popular recently as new technology has emerged to enable the diamond cutters to create even more facets.

For those who like the more contemporary style, there are the Emerald and Square Emerald cuts. The shape of the diamond refers to the outlines and the cut refers to facets/shape.

As in all fields of expertise, naturally, things evolve over time with the introduction of newer technology. Diamond cutters have thus found new ways to enhance the light. Great for those who love all things shiny as new shapes have now been introduced, The Pear, Marquise, and Heart shapes are some of these. But the newest one to hit the market is the highly sought-after My Girl Diamond. This beauty is deemed to be the only diamond in the world that has the perfect balance of fire and brilliance. 

How do you start to understand contemporary art?

‘This is not a pipe.’ 

René Magritte

Modern art replaces a proportional, harmonious, perfect conception of nature and the world as a whole. 

But the world is not all right, and contemporary art shows that there are problems in and around the community. It’s an unpleasant conversation that pushes the viewer out rather than engaging the conversation. And you just have to be prepared for that.

How do you start to understand contemporary art?

Behind many piece of art, there is a phantasmagorical story. You have to know it. Otherwise, you won’t understand the meaning of the work. You have to talk to artists.

Damien Hirst

Awareness is the key: follow awards, exhibitions, biennales, art fairs, read books, listen to lectures. The secret is simply to watch more.

Ask yourself questions, study history, look for answers, assume, look for metaphors; this will develop your intuitive perception of art. 

In addition to the hidden meaning of the contemporary artworks, attention must also be paid to the materials and form.

Malevich argued that art evolves like science and technology. 

“If a traditional painter depicted a tree and tried to make a perfect copy of it, a technician would cut it down and make a chair or a bench or build a house out of it. The art of representation should have followed the technique, then we would have avoided imitation, and there would have been no art of reproduction, but an art of creation”.

Kazimir Malevich

A good example of the use of modern technology and materials is the work of Jeff Koons, who creates art objects out of polished stainless steel, weighing several tons to look like inflatable balloon toys.

Jeff Coons

But as with everything, the theory is good, but it’s probably best to start moving on to practice. 

You have to start buying art. And when you start buying, you start taking risks. And because of that risk, you have to figure out what the artist has done. And a collector who invests his time and money has to understand art. The desire to buy is linked to understanding; collectors have this intuition.

Whether you would like to frequent exhibitions of contemporary art around the world, are thinking of purchasing a truly unique piece for your home, or are already a connoisseur and collector looking to acquire a particular artist, we can accommodate requests of all types and budgets. Our partner portfolio also includes talented artists with Maltese roots. Their unique techniques as well as the depth of philosophy reflected in their work will not leave you indifferent. 

Local artist

Malta holds mysterious aesthetics that embrace the culture and traditions of a myriad of nations, originating from the prehistoric times when the Megalithic Temples were built. Those which are already in the purest form, objects of modern art.

In this unique environment, a challenging artist is currently working and residing: John Paul Azzopardi

This artist works in a variety of techniques. His works of art are painstakingly crafted from handpicked materials. The author treats everything with great seriousness. In many ways, there is not only original meaning but also the authenticity of origin. 

John Paul Azzopardi

At the Venice Biennale, it was his work, made from the bones of small animals joined together in a lace pattern, that attracted the most attention.  John Paul plays with context ranging from ancient to contemporary philosophical notions, mythological, and social critique, aiming to deliver hidden psychological structures and phenomenological tensions. 

These pieces are so intricately crafted, one can sit and look at them for hours, slowly analysing the psychological intent each section at a time.

Cigars, what you should know (continuation)

SECTION 3

Stages of Cigar Making

Fermentation

Cuban cigars are made from specially selected tobaccos for the filling, strapping, and the cover sheet.

Firstly, the quality of the raw material needs to be improved. The tobacco needs to obtain the correct ratio of nicotine and resin to give a tangible flavour-aromatic property during tasting. The cigars acquire a unique bouquet, fragrance.

Under a cold temperature (2-3º) the leaves for the filling undergo fermentation. They are removed from the bags, inspected, and placed in oak barrels to evaporate any excess moisture. The raw material is aged until and then it is sent to the twisting room.

Sorting

Manual labour is used in the factory. The leaves are cleaned of debris, insects and dirt. The defective, damaged or deformed raw material is also rejected. They are sorted according to density, size, shade, and vein thickness.

The tobacco is made wet to remove the central vein. It is then graded. The coats must be textured, elastic, and without defects. Master craftsmen work with the material softly, gently picking tobacco from the stacks.

Blending – creating tobacco blends

This is the most delicate, complex and painstaking phase, only endured by a master craftsman. For this role, they need to have the skill of tasting aromas. They then classify the tobacco according to the type of aromatic oils.

The main types of tobacco leaves for flavour formation are-

Volado is low in strength. Seco has a medium strength and aroma and lastly Ligero is full-bodied and has a distinctive flavour.

Shaping and labelling

Using pre-pressed materials a Capote binder is used to shape the cigar. The next stage is coating. This is the most expensive stage, a kind of cigar cloth, is taken. The finished product is then labelled and boxed.

SECTION 4

Some interesting facts about cigars

The phrase, “Close, but no cigar,” originated in the day when a cigar was a popular carnival game prize.

In preparation for his first high-altitude aeroplane flight, Winston Churchill ordered the creation of an oxygen mask that would accommodate cigar smoking.

A highly skilled or specifically trained cigar roller is referred to as a torcedor, with them able to produce at least 200 cigars a day!

The tobacco plant belongs to the potato and tomato plant family know as Solanaceae.

1000 tobacco seeds can fit inside a thimble.

Legendary writer Mark Twain used to smoke 300 cigars a month. At one point he quit the habit, however, he ended up suffering from writers block. He then resumed his cigar habit and wrote a book in three months.

SECTION 5

How to be a cigar connoisseur 

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your cigar experience. 

Don’t let the cigar burn out – it’s best to inhale every 30-60 seconds. Also, unlike cigarettes, cigar ash is not actively shaken off – it will fall away on its own if you need to brush it off, just gently place the cigar on the edge of the ashtray.

When you have finished tasting a cigar, do not put it out like a cigarette – it is considered bad manners and it will also give off an unpleasant smell. Simply leave it in the ashtray and the cigar will put out by itself. If you leave a cigar in the ashtray for hours and then decide to light it, be prepared that it will be bitter and not as flavourful. Experienced aficionados do not light a cigar a second time.

To light your cigar hold the flame an inch or two away from the foot of your cigar. If you bury your cigar in the flame, it won’t burn evenly and you’ll taste a nasty mix of butane fuel and charred tobacco in the first puffs. Rotate your cigar over the flames taking a few puffs as you go. Once big blow the end until you have an orange glow over the whole base

Professionals advise to not take the band off the cigar until you are about an inch or two away from it. The heat from the cigar naturally loosens the band so you won’t tear the cigar removing the label 

It seen as good smoking etiquette to keep few spare cigars to give as handouts

Although there are obvious health problems linked to smoking today smoking a well-made cigar still has strong connotations with being well admired and quietly confident.

Cigars, what you should know

SECTION 1

History

The history of the cigar dates back to the 10th century. Historians believe that cigars were created by the ancient Mayans, who wrapped tobacco in palm or plantain leaves. This story is supported by an ancient Mayan pot that dates back to the 10th century, on this, there is an image of a man smoking a cigar shaped object! 

The first recorded Westerners to encounter tobacco were the Christopher Columbus team in 1492 when they arrived in Cuba. On initial arrival to the ‘new world’ Columbus was reported to be disappointed as he thought there was no ‘treasure’ to be found there. However, through trade, the local Indians introduced Cohiba (tobacco) to his team. They showed the eager spectators how to burn and inhale the leaves for pleasure. The men enjoyed this new sensation, in particular one lieutenant who was so taken with the new vice that he smoked it every day on their epic journey back home.

In Spain and Portugal cigar smoking started to catch on. The French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot, made cigar smoking popular back in his home country. You can see how much influence when you realise that the name nicotine is derived from his name.

Next cigars hit the rest of Europe, but it was the Spanish who developed the use of specialised papers instead of leaves to contain the tobacco. Tobacco started to be grown for customer consumption. Initially, the tobacco was grown in Spain until procurers discovered that the climate of Cuba was more suited for most productive growth. 

Other popular places for growing tobacco were Key West in Florida, New York, and the Philippines.

SECTION 2

Let us look a little more at the different elements of cigars.

Shapes

The Mayan Indians created the most commonly shaped cigar the Parejo. There are many subcategories of Parejo cigars, such as the Toro, Corona, and Carlota. 

A good marketing ploy used by the manufacturers was to name their cigars after those in the media spotlight who smoked them examples of this are the Churchill, Rothschild, and Lonsdale.

In the 1800s the irregular shape of the Figurado made them popular. Narrowed on both sides, the Figurado initially gives off only the flavor of the coating and binding leaves, and the true flavour of the blend is revealed only when the smoker reaches the widest part of the cigar. They were considered high end at the time and nowadays are seen as collectors’ items. Examples of these are the Presidente, Torpedo, and Toscano.

Other popular shapes of the cigar are Robusto, Torpedo and Viola. 

Time

How many hours is a person willing to devote to smoking? It’s not an easy question to answer today because time “costs” much more than it did in Columbus’ day. That’s why shorter formats of the Robusto cigar are recently gaining in popularity. Small cigars are deemed popular as they also hold have less tax.

The flavour intensity of a cigar is influenced by its length. The longer a cigar is in the mouth, the longer the resins and ethers dissolve in saliva and the more the essential oils evaporate, so the smoker gets a better sensation so experienced smokers prefer larger formats.

A 60-ring-gauge Cohiba cigar also known by its factory name, Grandioso, is 7 inches long and is extremely rare. As part of the Cohiba 50th anniversary, 50 humidor were made, each containing 50 cigars, for a total global run of 2,500 cigars. The No. 1 humidor was auctioned at the 2016 Festival del Habanos for approximately $350,000. The other 49 humidors were auctioned to the main Habanos distributors around the world, with a base price of $227,000. Others have been know to sell for even more.

Thickness

Remember – the thicker the cigar, the better it tastes and the cooler the smoke. Because a thicker cigar has more tobacco, more flavour, and also more space to cool the smoke. Thin cigars, which have fewer leaves, are simpler and more even in flavour. They are virtually devoid of the flavour dynamics inherent in more powerful and full-bodied cigars.

To be continued…

History of Champagne: how the English helped birth bubbly

Champagne, a drink we all associate with the raising of a toast at a special or festive occasion. But what do we really know about its history? Firstly, like a lot of popular inventions, it too was discovered by chance.

In France, the Champagne region has been producing wines for hundreds of years. Some claim as far back as the Gallo-Roman period. ‘Champenois’, locals from the region, produced pale, pink-hued, still wines made primarily from Pinot Noir grapes. 

The winemakers would distill their wine, but due to the cold temperature found in the North, the fermentation process would sometimes be interrupted. The consequence must be praised though, as it became the bubbly liquid that we are all so fond of today! During the freeze, the undigested sugars and yeast formed carbon dioxide and made an explosive bubbly mix.

In the late 17th Century, the ‘vin mousseux’ (sparkling wine) in the bottles that survived the pressure, started to become popular with French royalty, and shortly after Parisian socialites. The drink was considered rare and only accessible to the affluent. 

By the 18th century Moët & Chandon, Taittinger, and Louis Roederer were all found in the Champagne region. They all competed to supply their produce at the most elegant and regal affairs. 

The trend hit London, and they too decided that they wanted to recreate the bubbly liquid. Many historians believe that the thick bottle and cork synonyms with the champagne bottle today, was in fact, invented by the English and not the French in the early 17th Century. Next, the bottled sparkles began to spread through Europe.

Another popular misconception is that Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon, invented champagne. The monk did indeed make wine, he was a cellar master at Huntvillers Abbey, but he was in fact trying to remove the bubbles, not create them. The myth of him inventing champagne was actually a marketing tool used in the 19th Century by one of the subsequent owners of the Abbey. Apparently, when Dom Pérignon first tried the sparkling wine he shouted ‘come quickly, I am drinking the stars’. This quote was used in an advertising campaign, again reinforcing the ideology that the monk invented the bubbly drink.   He used the myth to promote the vineyards when sparkling wine was becoming popular. Evidently, the marketing tool worked and consequently stuck!

Champagne today is not too sweet, with the name Brut often placed on their label to identify the dryness. Early champagnes, on the other hand, were loaded with sugar, but this was also used as a ploy to disguise any fermentation issues. 

It seems that a person’s palate and taste buds are significantly different depending on the drinkers nationality. Russians and Scandinavians like their bubbles honey-sweet, German, French, and American, semi-sweet, and for the English the drier the better. Over time, the English style has succeeded at becoming the most well received. 

So how do you know you are getting a quality bottle of champagne? Similar to wine, it’s all in the label, you need to look for the ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’. These are the regulators who make sure the wine is made under the strict guidelines and made using the ‘Champenois method’. To warrant this title they insist on a second fermentation in the bottle, only using the correct grape type: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane, and Petit Meslier. The name ‘Champagne’ can only be used under strict guidelines for sparkling wine that is made in the champagne region of France.  

In the region of champagne, some of the oldest champagne cellars have become UNESCO world heritage sites. In Reims, one such site is the chalk tunnels below the city where champagne makers such as Pommery, G.H. Martel, Ruinart, Veuve-Cliquot, and Charles Heidsieck all established their cellars. If you are ever lucky enough to visit Champagne in person, then going on an exclusive tour of these relics is a must. 

At Midas, we are here to organises your exclusive tour of the Champagne region, just be sure to think of us when you raise your first toast!

Green tea – your healthy habit

Japan, your mind slowly drifts to images of elegant ladies dressed in kimonos, delicately pouring tea into handcrafted teacups. The way of tea, or Ichi-go ichi-e as it is locally known, is just as important as enjoying the tea. According to local tradition, during a tea ceremony, the underlying Japanese ethos is that you should treat your encounter with that person as if it is the first and last encounter that you will ever have with them. The preparation of the tea is used to provide a connection between the people.

There are actually 28 varieties of tea Sencha is the most common, sweet and mild. Gyokuro has strong aromas. Hōjicha is savory but the most classic is Matcha.

Let’s talk some more about Matcha, it is bright green and made from ground-up tea leaves that are grown in Japan. Matcha is created under shade-grown conditions and is a pure powdered form.  

Matcha had 3 grades. Ceremonial, Premium and Cooking. Ceremonial is used in tea ceremonies, Premium for everyday enjoyment and the cooking grade is used for sweets . Matcha can be made in two ways, usucha (thin) and koicha (thick). 

The thin tea is made using a bamboo whisk and is made with a creamy head. The thicker variation has no cream. It has a dense syrup like constancy and is dark forest green in colour.

In Tokyo, you don’t have to go to a formal tea ceremony to experience your Matcha, You can go to a tea house, which is a lot more relaxed and has a cafe-style ambiance. Nakamura Tokichi, founded in 1854 in Uji Shi, is one such place. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. It serves all varieties of Matcha and delicious desserts to accompany them. 

I’m sure this article has got you curious to try your very own Matcha, in Japan. At Midas, we are here to orchestrate this unique experience for you. We will look after all the details, remembering to dot our i’s and cross our tea’s!

Train travel can also be classy

When we hear the words Orient Express our minds drift to the 1930’s Agatha Christie murder mystery. But this is a different story, not Murder on the Orient Express, but Opulence on the Orient Express! Built in 1883, this has to be one of the most famous trains in the world. Dripping in history and elegance, a journey on her is a true step back in time. Right now, you can enjoy its full elegance visiting Venice, London, Paris, and Verona. This exclusive trip has to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not to be missed.

Another particular locomotive journey not to be missed is the magical trip through the Swiss Alps. Claimed to be the most sought-after seats in Switzerland, you travel across 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels, with an onboard concierge service catering to your every need. 

In upper-class cabins, you are guaranteed a window seat as you gaze at the Alpine panorama whilst sipping complimentary champagne. Enjoy your amuse-bouche before relaxing at a 5-course meal featuring traditional dishes accompanied by regional wines. Imagine yourself travelling through the Swiss Alps with an array of culinary delights to sample. Afterwards, you can enjoy drinks in their onboard bar.

If these beautiful train journeys have got you excited and ready to travel again, leave it to Midas to make it happen, but they are moving fast! Adventure awaits..

Have a sommelier come to your home

Would you like to host a wine tasting evening at your home, where you can taste and smell the origins of each wine?Invite your friends for a fun, interactive, and informative evening, where they are guaranteed to leave having learned something new, while enjoying a sundowner on your terrace.

A private wine tasting experience, presented in the comfort of your own home by a qualified sommelier, is a fantastic way to entertain family and friends. Sample exquisite local and international wines, have the process of each grape variety explained, as well as how to source for yourself excellent wines for your home or events.

This experience combines the past, present, and future. Listen to interesting facts about how these particular bottles have made their way from the grapevine to your home. Ask the sommelier to inspect your own wine cellar and choose the most appropriate wines for your dinner whilst explaining their source. Share this moment with your friends and family and remember the knowledge you’ve gained. Or if you have your own business, why not arrange a sommelier to come to your next corporate team building session.

Read more here about wine local in our Wine Treasures of Malta article.

Midas can orchestrate this enchanting evening for you, giving you the rest of the time to fully relax and enjoy the experience