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Quintessential Wines Sees Turnaround For Duboeuf, Upside For Spanish Portfolio

April 10, 2019

With annual volume of around 1 million cases, Napa, California-based importer and marketer Quintessential Wines has been achieving growth across a number of imported wine segments recently. Last year, the company enjoyed a solid performance from Georges Duboeuf, one of its larger labels, and Quintessential father-and-son owners Steve and Dennis Kreps tell SND they’re especially bullish on Spanish wines looking ahead.

Quintessential’s Spanish business rose nearly 12% to 250,000 cases last year, with high-end wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero leading the charge. “Spain is the most under-developed category in the U.S. right now, and we’re capitalizing on that, as well as on Spanish wines becoming more recognized for their quality-to-price ratio,” Dennis Kreps says. The company currently imports six labels from Spain—Bodegas Muriel, Bodegas Ollauri, and Vina Eguia in Rioja; Tinto Figuero in Ribera del Duero; Pazo Cilleiro in Rias Baixas; and Real Compañia in La Castilla—and is on the hunt for additional properties.

In the France category, Georges Duboeuf has been bolstered by Cru Beaujolais offerings and the November 2018 launch of a Beaujolais Nouveau rosé, as the brand rose 10% to 171,000 cases last year. After a strong initial showing for the rosé, Kreps says, “I’d like to see the rosé make up 30% of the portfolio this year.”

Meanwhile, Quintessential recently added two Provence properties—Château Roubine and Château Sainte-Beatrice—to its range. Both are owned by Provençal winemaker Valerie Rousselle and her son, Adrien Riboud. Château Roubine’s flagship rosé, La Rose ($24 a 750-ml.), is set to roll out nationwide this May, while Sainte-Beatrice is expected to debut stateside next year. In addition to Roubine and Sainte-Beatrice, Quintessential imports Provence-based Château Ferry Lacombe ($17-$22).

Quintessential also sees opportunity for its Italian portfolio, which includes a number of DOC-specific wines from Piedmont’s Luca Bosio and Montalcino-based La Mannella-Cortonesi. “We’ve had some success with our Italian portfolio, but we’re now looking to grow it more actively—consumers are buying Barolo, Brunello, Dolcetto, and Gavi with more enthusiasm, and it’s now a matter of getting our brands in front of the right accounts,” Kreps says.

Elsewhere, Argentinian label Valentin Bianchi remains a volume driver, with 200,000 cases depleted in 2018. Last year, the brand unveiled a new winery project dedicated to higher-end bottlings. Kreps says Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina is a varietal to watch for the future.

In addition to imports, Quintessential handles a number of California wines, including proprietary label Samuel Charles, which is at around 2,000 cases. Earlier this year, Samuel Charles released two new wines: Oak Knoll Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($80) and High Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($25). Quintessential also represents Lodi-based Ironstone, which is expected to deplete around 160,000 cases this year.—Julia Higgins

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