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Amid Rebound For French Wines, Domaines Paul Mas Targets 200,000 Cases In U.S.

August 22, 2014

After declining markedly through the 2000s, French wines have made significant progress in the U.S. over the past three years, adding nearly 2 million cases in bottled shipments from 2010-2013, according to Impact Databank. From 2000-2010, France’s bottled exports to the U.S. market dropped by more than 20% to 7.5 million cases. Since then, however, they’ve been back on the upswing, and tallied 7.3% growth to 9.4 million cases in 2013.

Among the brands making gains in the market are wines like rosé specialist Chateau d’Esclans—imported by Shaw-Ross and up 52% to 50,000 cases last year—as well as Languedoc’s Gerard Bertrand, which jumped 43% to 100,000 cases. The category also got a vote of confidence earlier this summer when Pernod Ricard launched Café de Paris, a line of Bordeaux-produced fruit-flavored sparkling wines at $13 a bottle.

Another standout French performer in the U.S. of late has been Languedoc-based Domaines Paul Mas, which has expanded from 35,000 cases two years ago to about 120,000 cases currently. This summer, the company relaunched its Arrogant Frog brand, and proprietor Jean-Claude Mas tells SND the portfolio is enjoying ongoing growth toward its goal of reaching 200,000 cases in U.S. volume (including some airline business) within three years.

Arrogant Frog ($10-$11 a 750-ml.), which originally launched in 2005, has been overhauled with a new label deemphasizing its frog avatar and placing it amongst a vineyard scene. Arrogant Frog is also returning to a cork closure from its previous screwcap, which Mas says better fits the style of the wines when young. “Cork has an influence on my wines. For this style, in the first five years I believe cork is better, allowing a bit of evolution.”

While Arrogant Frog was previously Domaines Paul Mas’s largest brand in the U.S.—currently around 25,000 cases—it was recently overtaken by the growing Paul Mas Estate label (around $12), which is now at 35,000 cases. Overall, the group produces more than 100 wines from eight vineyards. 80% of its U.S. business is handled by Palm Bay and its EDV unit.

In addition to Paul Mas Estate, another expanding brand within the portfolio is the under-$10 Côté Mas, which has been in the market only around 12 months and has depleted 10,000 cases. “Côté Mas Cremant Rosé is doing very well, surfing the sparkling rosé trend,” Mas says. The brand also includes red blend, white blend and rosé still wines.

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