StateWays Nov/Dec 2015

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays ■ ■ November/December 2015 42 SPARKLING WINE / CHAMPAGNE More than 1.5 million cases were exported to the U.S. in 2014, up about 2 percent, according to the Cava Regula- tory Board. The market is dominated by two companies, Freixenet and Cordoniu, and Freixenet is the largest pro- ducer of traditional-method sparkling wine in the world. Much of the wine produced by both companies is inex- pensive – think Freixenet's Cordon Negro, in its distinc- tive black bottle. But even Freixenet has recently intro- duced a pricier cuvée called Casa Sala Gran Reserva, priced at $60. It's an exam- ple of the Cava Regulatory Board's new push toward quality, which also includes a new designation for sin- gle-vineyard wines, Cava de Paraje, expected to be fi nal- ized by year-end. Still, most Cava is the less-expensive stuff, like Cordon Negro. And for that brand, Freixenet plans an "Everyone's Invited" holi- day promotion, with in-store displays and shelf talkers depicting a Cordon Negro- toting snowman, accord- ing to Danielle Fritz, brand manager for Freixenet USA. Like Prosecco, says Total Wine's Devore, Cava can over-deliver for the price. "We haven't added a Cava yet that hasn't sold," she says. K&L's Westby sees Cava and Prosecco as great entrées into the sparkling wine cate- gory. "The people who are drinking the high-quality Cava and the high-quality Prosecco more often are always going to aspire to Champagne," he says. A Northern California resident, LAURIE DANIEL has written about wine for more than 20 years. Her wine column appears in several California newspapers, and her articles have appeared in magazines such as Wines & Vines, Food & Wine, Wine Country Living, Drinks and the Wine Enthusiast. says Joanna Breslin, wine consultant for Binny's Bever- age Depot in Glencoe, Ill., a Chicago suburb, "are buying tons of Prosecco." She adds that "$10-$14 is probably the sweet spot," and she singled out La Marca and Mionetto as brands that sell well in her store. La Marca, imported by Gallo, has experienced huge gains in the U.S. market; it's now the No. 1 Prosecco brand in the U.S., with sales up nearly 28 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to The Beverage Information & Insights Group. Richard Kranzmann, vice president and general manager of Gal- lo's Premium Business Unit, points to the introduction in 2014 of the 187ml "La Marca Minis" as being an important piece of the brand's success, because the small format en- courages consumers to give the wine a try. "I think it is the quality- to-value ratio that Prosecco has to offer," says Melissa Devore, vice president of wine buying for national chain Total Wine & More. "Customers have come to know that in Prosecco, they can get a consistent product at affordable prices." She adds that volume is in the $10-$15 range. CAVA It's easy to fi nd a bottle of Cava for less than $15, even though this Spanish bub- bly is produced by the same traditional method as Cham- pagne. That's one thing that all wine labeled as Cava has in common. Beyond that, the rules can get confusing. Although Cava has denominacion de origen (D.O.) sta- tus, which usually refers to a geographic area, the wines can come from a number of diverse areas of Spain (Most, however, are produced in Catalonia). The main grape is xarello, with macabeo and parellada as supporting players, although international grapes like chardonnay and pinot noir are permitted, and still other red grapes can be added to make rosé. Like other sparkling wines, Cava can be made in a range of sweetness levels. TASTING, TASTING, TASTING No matter the sparkling category, retailers say that in-store tastings – both for the staff and consumers – are key to selling the wines. While K&L's in-store sparkling tastings focus on Champagne, tastings at Total Wine and Binny's are more varied. "What works is pouring the wine for people, whether the staff or the customers," Binny's Breslin says. "The real way to sell it is to have (staff) in the store taste it and at least some like it," because more customers are asking for recommendations. "I think tastings are the best way," Devore says. Cus- tomers "get to smell, touch and feel it." The stores might then offer a $1-off coupon for a wine in the tasting. Total Wine, she says, focuses its sparkling promotion on the holidays, including the chain's Top 10 list. "We get a lot of volume off of that," she says.

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