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Spanish Sparklers Quietly Surge In U.S.

June 7, 2013

More than 7.7 million cases of imported sparkling wine were shipped to the U.S. last year—a 50% jump in just three years. Italian sparklers are responsible for much of that growth, but Spanish sparklers are quietly playing a key role.

Sparkling wine imports from Spain have grown by nearly 40% over the past five years. In 2012, Spanish sparkling imports grew by nearly 3% to 1.65 million cases, almost 200,000 more cases ahead of Champagne in the U.S. market.

Spain has four brands in the U.S. market’s top 10 imported sparkling wine rankings, according to Impact Databank, and all four achieved growth last year. The top three—Freixenet, Jaume Serra Cristalino and Segura Viudas—are all Cavas. Freixenet, long the U.S. market’s top-selling Cava, was up by 1.5% last year to 544,000 cases, while Jaume Serra Cristalino rose by 8.3% to 390,000 cases and Segura Viudas grew by 6.8% to 237,000 cases.

Surprisingly, the recent growth of Spanish sparklers has been driven more by Moscato than Cava. Opera Prima, a sparkling pink Moscato in the Cristalino portfolio, grew by more than 25% to 176,000 cases last year and entered imported sparkling wine’s top 10 brands. In the previous year, Opera Prima’s U.S. sales nearly doubled.

“Clearly the sweetness has helped grow Moscato,” notes Vince Friend, president of Opera Prima’s importer, CIV USA. “It has also gotten great press, and somehow transcended the stigma White Zinfandel had that no serious wine drinker would drink it. Moscato’s success has expanded the sparkling wine category to an even wider audience.”

Attempting to leverage the surging popularity of its pink Moscato, CIV USA extended Opera Prima with a Sparkling Brut last winter. The new entry got off to a promising start, and its future seems bright—as it does for the entire Spanish sparkling wine category in the U.S. market.

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