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Deutsch Relaunches Peter Lehmann As Australian Wine Rebounds

June 17, 2016

With the Australian wine category returning to health in the U.S. market, Barossa Valley-based Peter Lehmann Wines aims to capitalize on the segment’s growth.Acquired from Hess Family Wine Estates by fellow Australian winemaker Casella Family Brands for about $50 million in 2014, the brand is currently relaunching in the U.S. under Casella partner Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, unveiling new packaging across a streamlined portfolio.

Ian Hongell, chief winemaker for Peter Lehmann Wines, tells SND that prior to the relaunch, the brand had been absent from the U.S. market for around 18 months. “We now have a chance to come back and energize the brand,” Hongell says.

Peter Lehmann’s new U.S. push will center on the core Clancy’s Red Blend ($16 a 750-ml.), which accounts for around half of the franchise’s U.S. volume. Made with Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot, Clancy’s is positioned as an approachable, food-friendly blend. Other focus wines include Portrait Shiraz and Portrait Cabernet Sauvignon ($19), which have traditionally performed well on-premise at national accounts and steakhouses such as Ruth’s Chris. About 15,000 cases of the Clancy’s blend have been imported annually in recent years, while the current 2014 vintage of Portrait Shiraz and Cabernet combine for around 7,000 cases. Also, later this year, Peter Lehmann will release its Stonewall Shiraz, which plays in the $100 a 750-ml. range, targeting high-end dining and retail accounts.

The relaunch comes as Australian wine’s prospects improve in the U.S., particularly at the premium-and-above level. Shipments to the U.S. increased 4% by value in the 12 months ended in March to about $337 million, according Wine Australia, with the average value of Australian bottled wine up 12% to $2.87 a liter, the highest level since 2010.

“At one point, our business was around 75% or 80% exports, but the strong Australian dollar changed that,” explains Hongell. “In the last five years, we’ve seen it flip to around 30% exports and 70% domestic sales. But with this relaunch, there’s much less headwind and a better Australian dollar—and there’s now much more opportunity for Australian wine in the U.S.”

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