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Michel Rolland’s Clos De Los Siete Ups U.S. Focus With Move To Deutsch

October 31, 2018

Clos de los Siete, the Uco Valley, Argentina project led by Michel Rolland, is angling to raise its profile in the U.S. Previously, Argentina has been the largest market for the brand, which includes a single SKU—a Malbec-focused blend retailing at $20 a 750-ml. After moving to the Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits portfolio from Thiénot USA last year, Rolland and Clos de los Siete managing director Ramiro Barrios tell SND that they expect the U.S. to become the brand’s top market, comprising 25%-30% of sales. Deutsch Family projects Clos de los Siete to reach about 25,000 cases in the U.S. this year.

Rolland formed Clos de los Siete with a number of French partners, planting the first vines in 1999. The inaugural release was a 2002 vintage. Rolland explains that the goal was to create the best wine possible from Argentina at the $20 retail level, with a volume target of 100,000 cases. “I wanted to make a drinkable wine that was of very high quality, that was representative of Argentina, and also had high consumption potential in major markets like the U.S.,” he says.

With the robust 2018 vintage, which follows a relatively short 2017 harvest, Clos de los Siete will be at that 100,000-case mark. The brand is now among the top Argentine red blends for the export market, Barrios notes. Clos de los Siete is placing much of its U.S. emphasis on the on-premise, where the brand generally sells for $12-$14 by the glass, but is sometimes listed as high as $18 in key metro markets. “The gastronomy channel—high-end restaurants and hotels—is our main focus,” Barrios says.

In addition to Rolland’s own Argentine bodega, Clos de los Siete is sourced from partner estates Bodega Diamandes, Cuvelier Los Andes, and Monteviejo. Malbec comprises anywhere from 45% to 58% of the Clos de los Siete blend depending on the vintage—with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah playing supporting roles—but other grapes such as Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot have been added to the mix in recent years.

While Argentine wine has had an up-and-down path in the U.S. lately—with bottled shipments down 6% to 5.4 million cases last year—Rolland says the region and its signature Malbec grape have yet to hit their peak. “Argentina is already producing wines that are among the best in the world,” he observes. “But the Bordelais joke that in wine it’s the first 100 years that are the most difficult. So, to meet Argentina’s full potential, we still need time.”—Daniel Marsteller

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