In this episode of Behind Fine Wine Warren Porter sits down with Adam Gungle of XPEDITR and a bottle of 2009 Marcassin Estate Chardonnay for IronGate.Wine’s interview series, Behind Fine Wine. In this episode Warren and Adam discuss XPEDITR‘s experience in shipping wine for clients who have large collections, such as the Bill Koch collection to the Sotheby’s Rare Wine Auction. Adam also shares tips and valuable insight into the safe care, storage and shipping of your vintage wine collection.
Warren: Hey everybody, thanks for joining us, I’m Warren Porter with IronGate.Wine and this is our video podcast called “Behind Fine Wine” where we talk to folks from the industry, from behind the scenes in the business of fine wine, and today I’d like to introduce you to my friend Adam Gungle, from XPEDITR, welcome Adam.
ADAM: Thank you Warren.
Warren: Nice to see you buddy. Adam has a wine shipping company that Wwe use exclusively. I met Adam quite a number of years ago when the shipping company that we used became- let’s just say less than stellar, and the last thing I want when we’re shipping our clients’ best wine is anything less than stellar. So, somebody introduced me to Adam, the reviews on Adam came in Incredibly well and he’s proved to be one of our greatest assets ever since, so, I’m looking forward to talking to Adam a little bit about the background end of getting wine from place to place, it sounds easy but I know: it’s not, there’s a lot of intricacies to it and while we do that, we’re going to have a 2009 Marcassin Estate Chardonnay. Are you a California wine drinker?
ADAM: I am, I drink everything.
WARREN: It’s summer- it’s starting summer, so I thought we would do a Chardonnay. So, give that guy a rip.
WARREN: Cheers. I was at an auction in Chicago, and they were offering this wine, and it was about to pass at a great price, I quickly lifted my hand and then-
ADAM: That’s delicious.
WARREN: I was quite surprised when I got to the airport in Canada, where they chose to charge me an enormous amount of money on taxes. After looking it up on wine-searcher.com and telling me that the guy in midtown Manhattan sells it for about $900 a bottle, therefore, that’s what they’re going to charge me tax on.
ADAM: so you’re looking at either 40% if you take it across yourself, or 106% if you take it over-
WARREN: Well exactly, I take it across myself so it’s 40%, but as you know, the cost of wine varies greatly depending on whether or not you are in midtown Manhattan and you have overhead to the tune of 100grand a month or if you are in auction. Or whatever. But, Anyway, that’s here nor there. So, I Hope you enjoyed that wine.
ADAM: Thank you for sharing.
WARREN: I really like it, it’s one of my last bottle in the case, and I’m happy to share it with friends.
ADAM: Wow. I appreciate that.
WARREN: So, I’m always curious how someone gets into their business. How did you wind up, let’s say in shipping specifically, but more importantly, fine wine which is a real narrow niche? So, tell me about that.
ADAM: well, it started with- I was shipping highly explosive, temperature controlled resins from Germany to North America, then-
WARREN: What do you mean resin like-
ADAM: So basically, we needed to make paint, and it was part of a recipe for paint, to go for BMW, Mercedes, Honda, things like that. So I actually got attuned to the logistics business and trained through that company, bringing in these explosive materials. So, what we did was; we we’re shipping in probably six tots- six truckload tots a week to match the demand. And I was doing that while I was going to school, University at the time. So, from there, I went to Pernod Ricard, which is a French liquor distribution company, and I was doing a supervisory role there, and I was shipping all the wine and spirits that you see in the liquor stores today you know like Jameson, Malibu, Absolut,all these big names. So, when I was working there, I just saw how many breakdowns in communication between brokers, between truckers, between Pernod Ricard and those truckers and also customs. And I also saw that customs were always changing their regulations of how to deal with alcohol coming in across the border, I mean, it’s not the same as milk, it’s a controlled substance, so, it was then when I had my call to adventure, my call to action, and I founded XPEDITR you be a problem solver for these issues.
WARREN: Wow, okay, what year was that?
WARREN: And so, you started– you left Pernod Ricard and launched XPEDITR. How does Somebody– because I know at Iron Gate Canada, we started it in wine storage and it took us forever to find clients, so, how did you wind up- I mean, you find your clients how? How did you wind up becoming the top of the game now in a period of only 10 years?
ADAM: Well, interesting enough, actually, we were just doing such a good job at what we were doing that we were getting referrals, people were calling us, I actually got a call one day from this guy and he said to me; ” I’ve got this pallet of wine, it’s a four by four pallet of wine, it’s $3000 a bottle, so it’s a million-dollar pallet, can you get this done for me? I need you get this from point A to point B. If you can do this, you should be able to do this”. And I said-
WARREN: That’s a lot of Mateus, that’s what you say.
ADAM: Yeah, so, I looked around in the market to try to find a solution to this, and again, we’re the problem solver in the industry, there was no one that was doing it, no one that was doing it right. And so, there becomes an issue of insurance, there becomes a risk issue, and also a trust Issue. You have to trust that that wine is going to get there, temperature controlled, properly at 56 degrees Fahrenheit or 13-14 degrees Celsius.
WARREN: So all you guys do is temp control, because I’ve got people that ask us; “can we ship in this shoulder season, which is going to be like spring and fall, because the ambient temperature outside is 13-ish degrees and so”, if the wine doesn’t mean that much or isn’t overly expensive, then sometimes I say okay, but not if it’s with you guys. If they’re sending it through FedEx or whatever so-
ADAM: everything we do is temperature controlled weather it’s the proper temperature outside or not. We will ship it at 56 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for that; when you’re going along a far route, let’s say from California to New: York or vice versa, the temperature is going to change throughout the night, through the mountains, altitude, you have to think of all that, and a lot of people just assume that