The still family-run company aims to sell 200,000 bottles in the first year (2017), which will account for 1/3 of the market in French mainstream retail.
It says the intention is to sell one million bottles by the third year, by working closely with our partner growers and wineries, and proceeding gradually, step by step. In the long term, and given the positive reception so far, production potential is estimated at 2 to 2.5 million bottles, including international sales.
The new crémant will be branded Malesan - the fourth most popular Bordeaux wine brand. says Castel. It is set to launch in April.
It says production will be based at its Oenoalliance site and it is looking to its Beychac site where production capability will be expanded to include sparkling wines made by the Méthode Traditionnelle.
It says with the relevant technical knowledge, a local team in place and support from producers such as Kriter and Listel, the Beychac site has, in six months, become a specialist facility for sparkling wine.
Castel says the Beychac plant manages the entire production process from vine to bottle, and complies fully with Méthode Traditionnelle stipulations. The site has all the necessary technical equipment, tailored and dedicated to the production of Crémant de Bordeaux.
In this rapidly growing market, Castel says it is anticipating a rise in demand for Crémant de Bordeaux, and is responding accordingly.
In terms of volume, Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) wines are currently on a par with champagne. Together these two categories account for 50% of all sparkling wine; but while champagne has declined by 5% over 4 years, AOPs are showing consistent growth of 1% over the same period. AOPs continue to attract new consumers, gaining an extra 55,000 households while Champagne has lost 300,000, says Castel.
Crémants, especially in Alsace, Bourgogne and the Loire, are showing a 25% decline in harvests between 2014 and 2015 – and given this year’s difficult weather conditions, 2016 is looking no better for many AOPs, says the company.
To respond to the rise in demand for crémants, Castel says it needs to look at re-balancing relationships between France’s main crémant terroirs and Bordeaux; Bordeaux is not suffering any supply problems and is currently experiencing a rise of 260% over three years – including 40% between 2015 and 2016.
Consumer research conducted by Castel, (Altitude Innovation 2015, Consopôle 2016) confirmed that Crémant de Bordeaux is a viable alternative to crémants from the other regions.
The market for Crémant de Bordeaux – currently mainly export – has not yet found a firm foothold in France, says Castel. There are only two brands in the French large scale retail sector, and these do not cover the entire country.
Castel says: “With only 670 hectares of vineyard, Crémant de Bordeaux currently has just a modest stake in the sparkling wines segment compared to the other three AOPs; there is, however, tremendous growth potential. Supply capacity is good, and the arrival of Castel on this market is seen as a positive move both by winegrowers and the region’s professional association.”