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Charles Heidsieck Finds New Life With Move To Folio

September 14, 2016

When French luxury group EPI acquired Champagne Charles Heidsieck from Rémy Cointreau in July 2011 for nearly $600 million, the historic Champagne brand was ailing. It had lost almost 90% of its overall sales since 1985. These days, however, the company is upbeat about Charles Heidsieck’s potential for expansion, especially in the U.S., the brand’s second-largest export market after the U.K., accounting for about 7% of its business.

In June of last year, Charles Heidsieck moved from Rémy Cointreau USA to Folio Fine Wine Partners. The brand had plummeted 35% in 2014, but it managed a 1.5% increase last year to 3,000 nine-liter cases. “Our destiny is very connected to the U.S. market, where there is huge potential for growth,” says Stephen LeRoux, Champagne Charles Heidsieck’s executive director. “Before the sale to EPI, Charles Heidsieck got a little lost behind Piper-Heidsieck (which recently moved from Rémy USA to Terlato Wines). But now there’s a whole new vision of the business, with Charles Heidsieck at the center.”

LeRoux says the initial goal is for Charles Heidsieck to reach 15,000-20,000 cases in the U.S. Folio has been targeting high-end on-premise accounts with the flagship Brut Réserve ($65), particularly by-the-glass menu placements. Charles Heidsieck currently does about 60% of its business on-premise, with a focus on about 15 key markets such as New York, California, Oregon, North Carolina, Miami and Chicago. “We probably have about 1,500 or 1,600 accounts in the U.S., and we’ll be at cruising altitude once we get about 4,000 or 5,000 accounts,” LeRoux says.

In February, Charles Heidsieck released its first vintage rosé since 1999, the 2006 Rosé Millésimé ($150). The current lineup also includes Rosé Réserve ($80), 2005 Brut Millésimé ($110) and 1995 Blanc des Millénaires ($250). Next fall, a new vintage of prestige wine Blanc des Millenaires will hit the U.S. market. Next year will also see the re-release of some older vintages of Blanc des Millenaires as well as Champagne Charlie, a cuvée sold between 1979-1985, which the company says will debut under new branding. That launch is anticipated to hit Charles Heidsieck’s top markets of the U.S., U.K., Japan and Paris. —Kimberly Tharel

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