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Castel plans entrance into sparkling segment

Castel Group is to start production of Crémant de Bordeaux for the first time in its history, from its Oenoalliance site.

The company is aiming to develop its sparkling segment in the large scale retail sector, which it claims is still modest in comparison to Castel's other French AOP wines.

The move to boost growth and focus on innovation comes at a time when sales of fizz are starting to soar.

Oenoalliance’s technical facilities and flexibility have enabled the investment to be made; it is set to benefit brands such as Malesan and Maison Castel as well as private labels.

Castel aims to sell 200,000 bottles in the first year (2017), which will account for a third of the Crémant de Bordeaux market in French mass retail.

The intention is to sell one million bottles by the third year, by working closely with its partner growers and wineries, and proceeding gradually, step by step. In the long term, production potential is estimated at two to two and a half million bottles, including international sales.

Castel is looking to its site in Beychac at the gateway to Bordeaux, where production capability will be expanded to include sparkling wines made in the traditional way.

The brand claims that with the relevant technical knowledge, a local team in place and valuable support from renowned producers such as Kriter and Listel, the Beychac site has, in only six months, become one of Castel's specialist facilities for sparkling wine.

The Beychac plant manages the entire production process from vine to bottle, and complies fully with Méthode Traditionnelle stipulations.

The site now has all the necessary technical equipment, tailored and dedicated to the production of Crémant de Bordeaux. Including:

  • A tank room dedicated to producing base wine for Crémants
  • A specially-tailored line for tirage and packaging
  • A temperature controlled storage facility at 15°C to promote slow, even prise de mousse, giving a fine bead and encouraging development of flavour as the wine matures.
  • A disgorging line
  • Automated processing where possible to improve working conditions.

In addition, Castel's wine-making teams have channelled a range of skills into the production of Crémant de Bordeaux, including sourcing quality raw materials from their partner winegrowers.

In such a growing market, Castel is anticipating a rise in demand for Crémant de Bordeaux. In terms of volume, AOP wines are currently on a par with Champagne. The two categories account for 50% of all sparkling wine; but while Champagne has declined by 5% over four years, AOPs are showing consistent growth of 1% over the same period.

29 January 2017 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, editorial assistant