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May 31, 2008

The Wines That Bind

By Spear's

Have you heard what a business consultant, a banker and an entertainer have in common? Denis Houles, ex-McKinsey man, Stanford MBA graduate and aerospace engineer has come up with the answer – The Claret Club.

Have you heard what a business consultant, a banker and an entertainer have in common? Denis Houles, ex-McKinsey man, Stanford MBA graduate and aerospace engineer has come up with the answer – The Claret Club. This society is a new members club that brings together high-flyers from all walks of life through their united love for wine and gourmand dining.

It charges a joining fee of £1,000 for individuals and up to £3,000 for corporate members, and offers at least one dinner per month complete with a selection of A list wines such as Latour, Margaux, Haut Brion, Sassicaia, and Vega Sicilia, alongside culinary delights from some of the world’s most renowned chefs.

The Claret Club prides itself on its members who mainly consist of CEOs, chairmen, senior partners, wine connoisseurs, artists and entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, Houles is resolute that the society is more than a networking community, explaining, that conversation flows as elegantly as the wine. ‘The common appreciation for great wines ensures stimulating conversations.’ Not that members usually remember everything of the bucolic feasts the following morning.

Houles, who began collecting wines at the age of seventeen, says his decision to leave McKinsey after three years in consultancy occurred when he finally realised that wine was his real passion in life, and ‘it is crucial to bring your passion into your career, if you can.’

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The club was founded in 2004. The idea for the establishment began when Houles noticed the limited event choices that companies had to entertain their clients. Though it may have taken a man with a degree in aerospace engineering from Sup’Aero in Toulouse, another in aeronautics from MIT and MBA from Stanford to figure it out, the result is that the Claret Club is now becoming increasingly name-dropped in HNW circles. Now, after almost four years in the business, Houles says the club’s reputation is in vintage shape. ‘Wine is a very strong tie and my reputation has opened some fantastic doors. I am sorry that I cannot mention any names. You will have to take my word for it…’

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  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
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