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Led By Italy And New Zealand, Premium-Plus Imported Wines Are Surging

May 11, 2017

While overall imported table wine depletions were flat at 67 million cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank, the category’s premium end is painting a much brighter picture. In 2016, the U.S. market’s top 10 premium-plus imports—defined as being at least $10 a 750-ml., on average—collectively posted a 12.6% gain to nearly 8.3 million cases. A bevy of upscale Italian offerings, as well as several super-premium New Zealand brands, have helped drive the segment’s rapid progress.

Riboli Family Wine Estates’ Stella Rosa brand—the market leader among premium-plus imports—surpassed 1.3 million cases last year. The Italian range, best known for its sweet and semi-sweet taste profiles, has averaged about 28% annual growth since 2010. Also hailing from Italy is Constellation’s Ruffino, which is fast closing in on the million-case mark (excluding its Prosecco, which accounts for another 300,000 cases). The brand’s success has been built on its Chianti business, which comprises about a 20% share of the Chianti category and nearly half the luxury Chianti segment.

Other leading premium-plus Italian players include E.&J. Gallo’s Ecco Domani and Santa Margherita USA’s namesake range, both of which were flat last year. On the other hand, Palm Bay’s Roscato and Zonin USA’s Castello del Poggio are both clearly in expansion mode, with each carving out well over 20% growth in 2016. “We’re pretty confident Roscato is going to be our next million-case brand,” says Palm Bay president and CEO Marc Taub.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand category continues to thrive stateside, with segment leader Kim Crawford eclipsing the million-case mark last year. “We see great growth opportunity for Kim Crawford in the on-premise by-the-glass segment,” says Julie Rossman, marketing director, imports at Constellation. Currently, Kim Crawford does more than 80% of its business off-premise. Fellow Kiwi player Oyster Bay also continues to rise by double-digits, and Kim Crawford portfoliomate Nobilo is likewise benefiting from the buzz around New Zealand, surpassing 600,000 cases on nearly 10% growth last year.

While Italy and New Zealand clearly dominate the premium top 10, by the end of the year Australia’s 19 Crimes could also potentially join the fold. The Treasury Wine Estates label doubled in size to more than a half-million cases in the U.S. last year, and TWE CEO Michael Clarke recently told SND that further extensions to the upscale Aussie brand are on the way.

Top Ten Premium-Plus Imported Table Wine Brands in the U.S.1
(thousands of nine-liter case depletions)
Percent Change3
Rank Brand Importer Origin 2014 2015 2016 2014-2015 2015-2016
1 Stella Rosa Riboli Family Wine Estates Italy 840 1,020 1,330 21.4% 30.4%
2 Kim Crawford Constellation Brands New Zealand 815 955 1,150 17.2% 20.4%
3 Ruffino2 Constellation Brands Italy 850 885 945 4.1% 6.8%
4 Alamos E. & J. Gallo Winery Argentina 865 900 900 4.0%
5 Ecco Domani E. & J. Gallo Winery Italy 785 805 805 2.5%
6 Oyster Bay Oyster Bay Wines USA New Zealand 549 629 694 14.6% 10.3%
7 Santa Margherita Santa Margherita USA Italy 698 670 670 -4.0%
8 Roscato Palm Bay International Italy 350 507 650 44.9% 28.2%
9 Nobilo Constellation Brands New Zealand 500 560 615 12.0% 9.8%
10 Castello del Poggio Zonin USA Italy 368 442 539 20.0% 22.1%
Total Top Ten 6,620 7,373 8,298 11.4% 12.6%
1 at least $10 per 750ml bottle, on average2 excludes Prosecco

3 based on unrounded data

Source: IMPACT DATABANK

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