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Moët Hennessy Extends Chandon Sparkling Brand In U.S., Amid Global Expansion

October 27, 2014

Best known for its powerhouse Champagne and Cognac brands, Moët Hennessy is putting new energy behind its Estates & Wines unit, which includes the globally-produced Chandon sparkling wine label, as well as Napa Valley’s Newton Vineyard, New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay, Australia’s Cape Mentelle, Spain’s Numanthia and Argentina’s Terrazas de los Andes and Cheval des Andes.

It’s been a little under two years since Jean-Guillaume Prats—former CEO of Bordeaux’s Cos d’Estournel—took the helm at the Estates & Wines division as chief executive. Prats tells SND one of his top priorities for Moët Hennessy’s wine portfolio is to continue the global expansion of the Chandon brand, focusing on Millennials in the U.S. while courting international consumers from Latin America to Asia.

With production spread across six countries—including the U.S., China, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and India—Chandon is already a truly global brand. This year, the franchise is unveiling a new offering, Delice, whose U.S. rollout begins in Texas and Florida November 1, with national distribution slated for February. Delice, which is line-priced at $20-$24 a bottle, is a Napa-sourced semisweet méthode Champenoise sparkler composed of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. “We’ll be promoting it not only on its own but also possibly in cocktails,” Prats notes. “We expect to draw in more young people with the concept.” Chandon was up 2% to 400,000 cases in the U.S. market last year, according to Impact Databank, and the company expects volume to near 500,000 cases annually with the addition of Delice.

Chandon’s Delice extension will also launch in the brand’s other key international markets, with the wine style and branding tailored to local tastes. For instance, the variant for Argentina includes late-harvest grapes for a sweeter profile, and in Brazil it’s marketed under the name Passion (Chandon owns more than half the sparkling wine market across Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay).

In addition to extending its product line, Chandon is tapping new markets with its core brand. Its Brut and Rosé bubblies debuted in China in September, and next year China will see the launch of a special market-geared Summer edition (called American Summer in the U.S.). “We’re also taking the brand beyond its domestic boundaries,” Prats says, observing that Chandon Argentina began exporting to Russia and the U.K. this year, and will be introduced in the Nordics as well. Meanwhile, Chandon Napa is present in Canada and the Caribbean, and Chandon Australia is sold throughout Asia Pacific. While much attention has been focused on China’s burgeoning wine market, India could be a game-changer for Chandon down the road. “We think it will be a bigger market for sparkling wine than China,” Prats says.

“If you add up all its vineyards, Chandon would be among the biggest Champagne houses,” Prats continues. “That was the vision for the brand when it was created: that the AOC of Champagne would never be extended, and that the world will be drinking more sparkling wine over the next few decades.”

 

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