Errazuriz Looks To Burnish Its Image In The U.S. MarketAugust 2, 2019
Viña Errazuriz, one of Chile’s oldest and most storied wine names, has been taking some major steps in recent years to claim a more prominent place in the U.S. imported wine market.
Three years ago, the total Errázuriz group, whose brands include Errázuriz, Arboleda, Caliterra, and Seña, was producing around 1.25 million cases annually. Production has since been cut to around 700,000 cases as the company culled its value wines to focus on the high end. The group’s wines now have an average FOB of $60 a case—double the median for Chilean wines.
“The original part of this revolution was to replace our vines with better clones and develop wines from cool climate valleys,” says Errázuriz winemaker Francisco Baettig, noting that those efforts began as far back as 2004. “We had a long Bordeaux tradition in Chile, as the original Errázuriz winery and vineyards in the Aconcagua Valley are far inland, around 80 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. But in 2005 we began planting vineyards in Aconcagua that were closer to the coast, only 10 kilometers from the Pacific.” The move helped create the cool-climate Aconcagua Costa appellation.
As the core brand in the group’s portfolio, Errázuriz has total production of 450,000 cases. Its lineup is spearheaded by super-premium label Max ($20), a contemporary tribute to founder Don Maximiano Errázuriz. The Max line includes a Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère from Aconcagua Valley, in addition to a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc from Aconcagua Costa. Higher up the ladder is Errázuriz Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay ($27). At the luxury end are Bordeaux blend Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve ($112), as well as Las Pizzaras Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay ($90) and Pinot Noir ($135), and Carménère label Kai ($210). Errázuriz’s U.S. importer is New York-based Vintus, while the group’s other labels are marketed elsewhere.
Errázuriz is looking to reestablish itself in the U.S. after a somewhat difficult history. Back in 1995, the Chadwick family, Viña Errazuriz’s owners, formed a 50-50 joint venture with Robert Mondavi Winery to create Chilean luxury wine Seña, as well as collaborate on premium brands Arboleda and Caliterra. As part of that deal, Mondavi also became Errázuriz’s U.S. importer. But a weaker U.S. dollar and a California grape surplus led to problems for Chilean imports a few years later, and then Mondavi was acquired by Constellation in 2004, creating further disruption. As a result, the Errázuriz brand wasn’t able to gain traction in the market, and instead focused its export efforts on Europe and elsewhere.
Last year, the Errázuriz brand’s U.S. depletions reached 15,500 cases. Thus far in 2019, depletions were at 13,500 cases in the year to date through July 22, representing a 70% growth rate. “Errázuriz never really took off in the U.S. in previous years, but now Vintus is doing the hard work,” says Baettig. “Little by little, we’re becoming a lot stronger.”—David FlemingSubscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.
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