With wine interests in Bordeaux, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, and New Zealand, Compagnie Vinicole Baron Edmond de Rothschild has been undertaking a full overhaul across its portfolio—including a new direction for its flagship Bordeaux property, Château Clarke.
Under the direction of Baroness Ariane de Rothschild, who became leader of the group in 2015, there’s been a sweeping initiative to modernize and enhance operations, which total 3.5 million bottles of production from 1,200 acres of vines. Exports comprise 90% of sales.
“Over the past three years, we’ve undertaken a radical change in management,” de Rothschild tells SND. “I wanted to give the whole company a new impetus.”
In 2015, Boris Bréau was appointed managing director of the wine unit, after spending nine years as international director at Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Since then, the Edmond de Rothschild wine group has rethought the entirety of the business, from the vineyard to the packaging.
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At Château Clarke, located in the Listrac region of the Médoc, “we’re getting more precise in terms of vineyard management and vinification,” says Bréau. With its current 2015 vintage, Clarke ($42) is debuting the first wine made by a new team led by technical director Fabrice Darmaillacq and consultant Eric Boissenot, who replaced Michel Rolland in that role.
“The 2015 vintage is a perfect example of the balanced style we’ll look to produce moving forward,” adds Bréau. “We’ll continue to produce between 200,000 and 240,000 bottles.”
Bréau notes that demand has been growing strongly for Clarke’s Le Merle Blanc white wine, which does about 15,000-20,000 bottles in annual production. Château Clarke’s offerings—along with the entire Edmond de Rothschild wine group range—have all recently been repackaged in conjunction with the updated wine style.
The group’s Bordeaux portfolio also includes Château des Laurets in Puisseguin Saint Emilion, which produces about 220,000 bottles of its namesake wine ($25) as well as 30,000 bottles of its higher-end Sélection Parcellaire ($49). De Rothschild notes that there’s an opportunity for Bordeaux to introduce itself to a new generation of U.S. wine drinkers.
“There’s renewed interest in Bordeaux and in French wines in general,” she says.
The company’s Bordeaux offerings are split among multiple importers in the U.S., including Monsieur Touton and Cognac One. The company’s total U.S. volume is expected to be about 25,000 cases this year.
Edmond de Rothschild is also increasingly leveraging opportunities beyond Bordeaux. Next month, importer Europvin will launch the group’s New Zealand wine, Rimapere ($25), in the U.S. “We have 26 hectares (64 acres) in Marlborough, near Cloudy Bay, planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir,” Bréau says.
While the Bordeaux wines and Rimapere are the top priorities in the U.S. market, Edmond de Rothschild is also active in the South African wine category, producing the Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons wines with the Rupert family. In Spain, it has a partnership with Vega Sicilia to produce the Macán brand ($94), and it also offers the Flechas de los Andes label ($20) from Argentina. As for forward-looking projects, de Rothschild says,
“Burgundy could be interesting, and of course you have the turnover in Bordeaux chateaux that could present future opportunities.”—Daniel Marsteller