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Frescobaldi Projects Double-Digit U.S. Growth, Taps Unlikely Source For New Wine

November 8, 2013

Despite challenging global economic conditions, luxury Italian wine producer Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi tells SND its sales growth is likely to accelerate in 2013 compared with last year, with the U.S. projected to see an advance of 10%. In 2012, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi—with global volume of 10 million bottles across estates including Nipozzano, CastelGiocondo, Castiglioni, Ornellaia, Pomino and others—posted a 1% increase in revenue to €84 million ($116m), representing a doubling of the business over the past decade. This year, says newly appointed president Lamberto Frescobaldi, the group is tracking global growth of around 4%-5%.

In the U.S., which accounts for around 15% of sales, Frescobaldi explains that while competition remains stiff at the upper echelons of the imported wine segment and margins are under pressure, several wines in the portfolio are making good progress. “Nipozzano and CastelGiocondo are leading the way in the U.S., and all three Ornellaia wines are doing well,” he notes. Frescobaldi’s wines are imported stateside by Folio Fine Wine Partners.

Building on its existing portfolio, Frescobaldi has added to its U.S. offering this year. This summer it introduced wines from Tenuta dell’Ammiraglia in Maremma, ranging from $18-$25, with a higher-end entry, Ammiraglia Maremma Toscana IGT ($60), slated to launch next year. Also new to the fold is a limited edition Artist Series for CastelGiocondo, retailing around $230. That initiative—intended to be renewed each year moving forward—features magnums of the estate’s Brunello di Montalcino bearing labels designed by a rotating cast of artists.

For what may be its most intriguing new release, Frescobaldi looked well beyond its estate vineyards in Tuscany. Its Gorgona white, hitting the U.S. this fall, was sourced from the Tyrrhenian island of the same name, which houses an agricultural penal colony with about 50 inmates. The “Frescobaldi per Gorgona” project—financed by Italy’s Department of Penitentiary Administration—offered these inmates the opportunity to learn winemaking techniques and job skills under the supervision of the company’s agronomists and winemakers. The resulting wine, made from a blend of Vermentino and Ansonica grapes, retails at $90 a bottle. Out of total production of 2,700 bottles, 1,000 are coming to the U.S. market. Pleased with the results of the project, Frescobaldi has committed to hiring some of the inmates who helped produce the wine once they’ve paid their debt to society.

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