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Palm Bay’s Esprit du Vin Eyes New Opportunities In Bordeaux

February 24, 2016

Esprit du Vin Fine Wine Merchants, a division of Palm Bay International, has been named the exclusive U.S. importer for Bordeaux’s Domaine de l’A, the flagship winery of renowned winemaker and consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, and tells SND it’s on the hunt for more Bordeaux offerings.

It remains rare for a Bordeaux winery to go exclusive with one importer in the U.S., rather than selling to negoçiants on the Place de Bordeaux. But according to EDV vice president, division manager, Matthew Green, “There’s a desire by the chateau owners to have more understanding and ultimately control over where their wines are being sold, how they’re being distributed, priced and perceived by the consumer. As an importer, we gain a beachhead in a dynamic category with an extraordinary producer in Stéphane Derenoncourt, who’s committed to building the Domaine de l’A brand, which will create a nice halo effect for us.”

While Bordeaux has suffered a series of tepid futures campaigns in the U.S. market, the region’s exports to the U.S. were up 4% to 1.5 million cases in the first nine months of 2015, according to Impact Databank, while value leapt 22% to €156 million ($172m).

Green believes that more 8,000-15,000-case Bordeaux chateaux will ultimately follow the lead of Domaine de l’A (retailing around $40) in going exclusive, with pricing stability being one of the key benefits. Fellow Bordeaux label Chateau Greysac (about $25), which has been with EDV exclusively for the past five years, has been one of the few to take the path less traveled. Greysac has been growing at around 5% annually and is now north of 13,000 cases in the U.S., “without sacrificing pricing,” Green notes.

Esprit du Vin isn’t alone in seeing U.S. opportunities for Bordeaux at more accessible price points. Pasternak Wine Imports, a subsidiary of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), will introduce a new Bordeaux-sourced Legende brand this spring, with its core Blanc and Rouge wines retailing at $20, and Médoc, St.-Emilion and Pauillac bottlings ($35-$60) offering trade-up options.

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