Moët-Hennessy uncorks bubbling market of sparkling wines

India is getting ready to sparkle…

The entry of Moët-Hennessy’s brand, Chandon, last year opened the segment to more winemakers, who have realised that the country loves its bubbly and is ready for more. Good Drop Wine Cellars, a winery based out of Nashik and a new entrant in the business, believes there is room for more in sparkling wines.

“The sparkling wine segment has been growing 30% y-o-y. Where just about 20 cases were sold every month, sales have jumped over four times after Chandon’s entry. It has opened up the market, which is good for winemakers,” says Ashwin Rodrigues, CA-turned winemaker and director of Good Drop Wine Cellars. Sparkling wines are livelier and have a flavour different from still wines. They are more popular during celebrations, he said.

Earlier, Sula and Zampa dominated the sparkling wine market. Now, there are at least four new players: Chandon, Fratelli, York and Good Drops. Casablanca, from Good Drop, is the latest to hit the market.

Good Drop is also the maker of Rio wines, recognisable by its pull-away crown caps. Priced at Rs 850, Casablanca blends  Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Moscato and Shiraz. It is made via the Charmat method, which involves second fermentation in tanks rather than bottles. Casablanca is India’s first Prosecco-styled sparkling wine. Rodrigues, who came up with Casablanca white, plans to bring out Casablanca Rose next.

The company has also broken into overseas markets and has been exporting around 700 cases a year of Casablanca under a different label. Existing wines in its portfolio include the Rio Risso , Rio Bianco and Rio Rossa, Rio Strong with 16% alcohol content.

The other wines have a lower alcohol content of 9% (compared to the usual 13%). The company’s Nashik winery can brew 5.5 lakh litres and it has been operating at 60% capacity. By next year, this should be working at 100%, he adds.

Good Drops is among the players that crushed for Chandon. The company is now looking for the next spurt of growth, for which it has been scouting for private equity. It targets to sell 30,000 cases this year. At present, it sells its wines only in Maharashtra and Goa. It wants to establish and consolidate before it ventures into other areas.

Good Drops is also exploring the possibility of exporting these wines to Asian and African countries, including China, Vietnam, Thailand, Kenya , Tanzania and Nigeria.

Sparkling wines make up 7% of the total wine market, amounting to 70,000 cases for India (8,000 for Mumbai and 5,000 for Pune). The total wine market is around 1 million cases. The category is growing at a fast rate of over 20%. The company launched its first wine in 2011 and had sold about 50,000 litres. It has witnessed annual growth of 40%.

Other players that have launched sparkling wines include York Winery, which has introduced Arros, a reserve blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine spends 12 months in the barrel and another 12-13 in the bottle. At Rs 1,045, this is the most expensive wine in the company’s portfolio. The company’s sparkling wine is called Sparkling York, which is priced at Rs 975.

According to International Wine & Spirit Research (IWSR), the market for sparkling wines in India is growing off a very small base of 4% of the total market. Wine consumption in India is likely to increase to 2.1 million cases by 2017, 73% higher than the 1.21 million cases in 2013, said a survey by Vinexpo.

In 2013, Indian consumed 1.10 million cases of wine. Red wine led with 0.67 million cases while white wine and rose wine were 0.37 million cases and 0.06 million cases, respectively.

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First published on: 13-12-2014 at 00:36 IST