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Languedoc Players Expand Portfolios As U.S. Growth Remains Solid

May 10, 2013

Two leading players in France’s Languedoc region—Gérard Bertrand and Domaines Paul Mas—are aiming to keep up their recent gains in the U.S. wine market with several new product rollouts each.

Gérard Bertrand tells SND he’s on a mission to build the southern French category in the U.S., and he’s making headway. Bertrand’s self-imported namesake brand—which includes Languedoc varietals at around $13 up through estate bottlings running up to $75—increased from 20,000 cases in 2010 to 45,000 cases in 2011, then jumped to 70,000 cases last year. The goal is to double the label’s size again in this year.

“For the Languedoc appellation wines, independent retail and on-premise chains are driving growth,” Bertrand says. “For the estate wines, growth is coming from fine dining.” Wines priced from $13-$25 at retail account for 80% of the group’s U.S. sales, he adds.

This year, the Gérard Bertrand brand is introducing a sulfite-free range, Naturae, to the U.S., importing around 12,000 cases across Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvigon, Rosé and red Corbierés offerings retailing at $18 a bottle. Also set to appear stateside is Bertrand’s Code Rouge, a Cremant de Limoux Blanc de Blancs sparkler packaged in a red bottle and priced around $30.

Domaines Paul Mas, handled by Palm Bay, also sells around 70,000 cases in the U.S. market, out of global production of 1.5 million cases. Owner Jean-Claude Mas says the company will expand its “everyday luxury” range Côté Mas in the U.S. this year with several new variants, including Rouge, Blanc and Rosé “house wines” at $10 a bottle, as well as both an AOP Cru Limoux Chardonnay and Red at $15. The Côté Mas brand debuted in the U.S. with a trio of Limoux sparklers (also $15) last year.

The Paul Mas portfolio also includes the Arrogant Frog brand, as well as Chateau Paul Mas and Paul Mas Estate, the latter being the largest in the U.S., led by its Malbec varietal ($12). Arrogant Frog ($10), which sells 25,000 cases in the U.S. and may be revamped looking ahead, will launch a rosé exclusive to BevMo this summer.

Like Bertrand, Jean-Claude Mas sees potential for Languedoc as it reintroduces itself to U.S. consumers as a premium category. “In the 1990s, Languedoc provided a lot of bulk wines to be bottled in California,” he says. “In the 2000s, Australia took over that business. Now we’re repositioning Languedoc on much better ground as a source for affordable luxury.”

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