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Moët Hennessy Takes Majority Stake In Luxury Rosé Leader Château d’Esclans

December 2, 2019

Moët Hennessy has bolstered its presence in Provence rosé, agreeing to take a 55% controlling stake in luxury player Château d’Esclans for an undisclosed sum.Château d’Esclans is known for its Whispering Angel brand, which has been a driving force behind the premiumization of the rosé category in the U.S.

Moët Hennessy is acquiring 50% of d’Esclans from Singapore-based investment group Alix AM PTE Ltd, and 5% from d’Esclans president Sacha Lichine, who will retain the rest of his shares and continue to oversee the business.

Lichine tells SND that the d’Esclans range—led by Whispering Angel and The Palm by Whispering Angel—will surpass half a million cases in the U.S. this year, with the rest of the world accounting for about 300,000 cases. “We were looking for a strategic alliance to help us premiumize our higher-end marques outside the United States, specifically in Asia, South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe,” he says. Among d’Esclans’ top-end wines are Les Clans (retailing at around $70) and Garrus ($100), which have been making inroads in developing the prestige rosé segment. The core Whispering Angel sells at approximately $23, depending on the market.

“We sell out the top-end range as we do with Whispering Angel,” Lichine notes, adding that d’Esclans’ recent deal to purchase a neighboring estate “will add 60 hectares (148 acres) of vines to our current holdings of nearly 74 hectares (183 acres). That will facilitate increasing our production of our upper-end marques and, in turn, enable us to supply more of these wines as the category premiumizes.”

Based in the Var area of Provence, d’Esclans’ original château dates to the 12th century, with the current château built in the mid-19th century. The vineyards are planted primarily to Grenache and Vermentino (Rolle). In the U.S., the d’Esclans portfolio is currently handled by Shaw-Ross International Importers, which has seen it grow roughly fivefold over the past half-decade. Whispering Angel was recently named Wine Brand of the Year by SND sister publication Market Watch.

Philippe Schaus, CEO of Moët Hennessy, credited Lichine with “revolutionizing the world of Provence rosé” and said the group “will bring the full support of our worldwide teams” to assist in further developing the business. Château d’Esclans will join Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, Krug, Mercier, Chandon, Newton, Terrazas de los Andes, Cloudy Bay, Cape Mentelle, Numanthia, Ao Yun, and fellow Provence producer Château du Galoupet in the Moët Hennessy wine portfolio.

Volumes of Provençal rosé in the U.S. market have risen from only 27,000 cases in 2005 to 2.1 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank, with Whispering Angel at the vanguard of the category.—Daniel Marsteller

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