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Italy’s Masi Toasts Upturn In U.S. Fortunes

November 19, 2015

Italian luxury wine producer Masi Agricola, known for its Amarone offerings from northern Italy’s Veneto region, has long had a significant U.S. presence, but after a difficult period coinciding with the recession, the company is again enjoying solid growth prospects.

According to Impact Databank, Masi hit a high of nearly 90,000 cases in the U.S. in 2007 before receding in the years following the economic downturn. Last year, the brand finished at around 60,000 cases. But 2015 has marked a return to U.S. growth, with Masi’s Americas business showing a 14% sales rise over the first six months of the year, amid a 5% company-wide increase.

Masi, which exports more than 90% of its 1-million-case production, counts the U.S. among its key overseas markets, along with Canada and Sweden. Of the three, the U.S. is now increasing the fastest, says Raffaele Boscaini, president of Masi Technical Group and a member of the seventh generation of Boscainis to lead Masi. The U.S. portfolio is led by Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Serègo Alighieri Vaio Armaron ($85), which ranked eighth among Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2015. Vaio Armaron is sourced from the Serègo Alighieri estate—owned by descendants of the poet Dante and managed by Masi.

Also getting heavy focus in the U.S. are Masi’s Costasera Amarone ($64) and the ripasso-style wine Brolo Campofiorin ($30). “These are our three identity wines, which are driving growth for us both on- and off-trade,” says Boscaini.

While Masi has been a sustained presence in the U.S. market’s upscale Italian segment, it shifted among a few different importers before aligning with its current partner, Kobrand, in 2013. Prior to linking with Kobrand, Masi was handled by Folio Fine Wine Partners, and before that it resided in the Rémy Cointreau USA portfolio for much of the 2000s. With a clear distribution strategy now set in place and more favorable exchange rates providing a tailwind for imported wines, Masi is now positioned for U.S. expansion, Boscaini says.

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