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Napa’s Quintessential Wines Rises To Become A Million-Case Player

July 18, 2016

Napa-based importer and marketer Quintessential Wines has been adding new producers at a rapid-fire pace, building a premium portfolio that will approach 1 million cases in volume this year, up from about 400,000 cases five years ago. At the start of 2016, Quintessential placed a big bet on the continuing rejuvenation of French wines with its deal to become the U.S. importer for Beaujolais’ Georges Duboeuf, taking over from Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, which had handled the brand for three decades.

“We’re going to focus in on the smaller-production wines,” says Quintessential co-owner Dennis Kreps. “Duboeuf represents 47 different domaine and estate wineries, which gives us the opportunity to discuss the differences among the various Beaujolais crus. The very best of them are under $30, so the value for the quality is the biggest selling point. With the 2015 vintage we’ll have an offering of 60-70 wines that will be in place throughout the country by October.”

As it looks to reintroduce Duboeuf to U.S. consumers with an emphasis on super-premium wines, one factor working in Quintessential’s favor is the high quality of the 2015 vintage. Franck Duboeuf says it’s potentially the best since 1947, adding that he’s set the goal of making the Georges Duboeuf brand the U.S. market leader in Beaujolais within five years. After years of declining volume, Duboeuf was steady at 180,000 cases in the U.S. market in 2015, according to Impact Databank. Louis Jadot, a key Beaujolais competitor imported by Kobrand, was flat at 390,000 cases last year.

In addition to Duboeuf, Quintessential has taken on a slew of new import brands of late. Last spring it became the U.S. marketer for Italy’s La Mannella Vineyards, including a Rosso di Montalcino ($37), Brunello di Montalcino ($72) and Brunello di Montalcino I Poggiarelli ($95). Then, in December, it added both the Toro’s Bodegas Fariña ($14-$50) and the Provence rosés of Chateau Ferry Lacombe ($17-$22). And this past May it bolstered its Argentine offering with Pascual Toso ($12-$80).

The core of the Quintessential portfolio remains Argentina’s Valentin Bianchi and sister label New Age, which have nearly doubled in size since 2010, combining for about 460,000 cases last year. Spain’s Bodegas Muriel, another growth brand for Quintessential, has more than doubled to 120,000 cases over the past three years. Looking ahead, Kreps tells SND he sees ample opportunity for expansion in the Spain and Portugal categories, with the Douro’s Quinto do Vallado red at $20 among the up-and-comers. —Daniel Marsteller

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