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Moët Hennessy’s Château d’Esclans Targets Premiumization In Rosé

June 21, 2021

Luxury rosé leader Château d’Esclans came under the U.S. wing of majority owner Moët Hennessy late last year, and the Provence label has continued to climb, despite the challenges raised by the pandemic. D’Esclans increased 7% to 525,000 cases in the U.S. in 2020, according to Impact Databank, led by its core Whispering Angel expression. That growth occurred even amid heightening competition in the rosé space, as Whispering Angel’s online sales boomed, thanks to app-based delivery services like Drizly.

“What happened last year with Drizly, in regard to Whispering Angel, was crazy; they called us up and said ‘We’ve never seen a product perform as well as Whispering Angel.’ It just blew up,” says Château d’Esclans vice president Paul Chevalier. Because of the wine’s success with the platform, Château d’Esclans is now partnering with more of its peers, like Reserve Bar and Minibar.

Whispering Angel’s entry-level portfoliomate The Palm likewise performed well during 2020—rising 10% to 110,000 cases—bolstered by its $15 price point. Chevalier notes that The Palm is aimed more specifically at the Gen Z demographic, who are aware of rosé but not quite ready to take the plunge into more luxe offerings.

Château d’Esclans’ more luxury rosés faced steeper challenges in 2020, as they’ve been primarily aimed at restaurants and other on-premise accounts, but as reopening continues across the globe, Chevalier is optimistic for what lies ahead. He notes that services like Reserve Bar will be instrumental in helping these high-end wines reach more people. “Consumer education is the biggest challenge we’ve had since the pandemic, as in the past it was through restaurants,” says Chevalier. “Services like Reserve Bar are great platforms to explain what we do and promote these reserve rosés to a bigger audience, and steer consumers up the ladder.” The luxury end of Château d’Esclans includes “prestige rosés” like Garrus ($100) and Les Clans ($75).

While sales of Whispering Angel and The Palm kept the entire Château d’Esclans portfolio on the upswing during the pandemic, so too did the resources of Moët Hennessy. Since the acquisition, not much has changed for the winery’s day-to-day operations, but broader issues like sustainability in the vineyards (and Provence at large) are now being addressed with the help of the Moët team. Moët Hennessy also doubled Château d’Esclans’ vineyard holdings to 146 hectares (361 acres), making more estate-grown fruit available for its wines.

Moving forward, Chevalier wants to focus on growing Rock Angel, which sits one tier above Whispering Angel at $35 a 750-ml. “We want to focus that wine in another space and take it to another level,” he says. He also expects to see further premiumization of rosé, and thinks d’Esclans will continue to play a big role there. “To make six rosés, all at different price points, all different styles, some aged in stainless steel, some in oak, some fruitier, some more aging-friendly—to do all of that is unique in the world of rosé, and we’re constantly looking to move people up the ladder,” he says.—Julia Higgins

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