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Pernod Eyes Bigger Piece Of New Zealand Pie For Brancott Estate

December 24, 2015

With New Zealand wines flourishing in the U.S.—expanding by nearly two-thirds over the past five years to approach 6 million cases—Pernod Ricard’s Brancott Estate is among the brands enjoying marked gains.According to Impact Databank, Brancott is poised to cross the 200,000-case mark for the first time in 2015, having achieved positive growth each year since 2009. Despite the solid progress, though, Brancott’s pace has lagged that of other players in the fast-rising New Zealand category. To change that dynamic, Pernod has begun courting younger LDA female consumers with Brancott’s low-calorie Flight Song range, while offering trade-up options with its Letter Series and Chosen Rows offshoots.

“Our growth has been a little under the New Zealand category,” acknowledges Patrick Materman, Brancott Estate’s chief winemaker. “But the U.S. has enormous potential to grow high value brands, and part of our approach is to do more at high price points, as well as offer well-differentiated products.”

Led by its core Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio ($13 a 750-ml.), Brancott extended in 2014 with Flight Song ($15), a low-calorie line made using grapes harvested earlier in the season. Flight Song features a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio and has been attracting Millennial women and broadening the brand’s appeal.

“There’s been a checkered history with low-alcohol and low-calorie wines, largely from a quality point of view, so we’re making a concerted effort to deliver the same quality as traditional wines,” Materman says. “Flight Song is also opening up different drinking occasions for us.”

Meanwhile, Brancott is upping focus on its super-premium Letter Series, which in the U.S., centers on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Retailing at around $20, Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc has shown particular promise on-premise lately, and is well-positioned to expand from its current 5,000 cases.

At the luxury level, Brancott debuted Chosen Rows Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc last year at around $50 a bottle. The second vintage of Chosen Rows, a 2013, will follow in February, priced from $65-$70. “There’s been a price ceiling of around $25-$30 for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc,” Materman notes. “But if you look at any other varietal and where it’s best grown around globe, those wines generally command $100+ a bottle. And Marlborough is arguably one of the best places for Sauvignon Blanc.”

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