Australian winemaker Penfolds said it will introduce to the U.S. market a new line of wines, called Penfolds Max’s. The new line pays homage to Penfolds’ legendary original winemaker Max Schubert, who is best-known for creating the iconic Grange multi-regional red wine blend.
The first wines to be available to U.S. consumers are Penfolds 2015 Max’s Cabernet Sauvignon ($25), and Penfolds 2015 Max’s Shiraz-Cabernet ($25). The new bottlings celebrate Schubert’s revolutionary winemaking approach, featuring multi-regional and multi-varietal blending to achieve style and quality consistency across vintages.
In addition to bearing the Penfolds stamp, the new Max’s wines feature a novel shrink-wrapped package that can be “unzipped” to reveal the bottle, a nod to the “Hidden Granges” that Schubert is said to have made in the 1950s and secreted away for years.
Is a “Wine Deficit” Hurting U.S. Winemakers?
U.S. winemakers are suffering from a “wine deficit,” according to The Financial Times. The Wine Institute, a California wine advocacy group, says the domestic wine industry is under assault from French, Spanish and other European wines that for years have been building market share in the United States. Meanwhile, many California vintages are being kept out of Europe by aggressive European Union rules governing regional varieties such as Burgundy and Champagne, and regulations on the use of generic terms such as “château” on labels, even when they are part of a winery’s name.
“It is blatant discrimination against American producers,” says Tom LaFaille, the Institute’s trade representative in Washington. The answer to closing the deficit, LaFaille says, lies in opening export markets.
U.S. wine exports totaled $1.6 billion last year, Wine Institute statistics show, while almost $5.8 billion worth of wine was imported. This led to a record $4.1 billion deficit—more than 80 percent of which was with the EU. In 1970, just 11 percent of U.S. wine sales were of imported wine. By last year, that number had risen to one-third.
Excelsior Wines and Young’s Market Forge Strategic Partnership
Excelsior Wines, North America’s largest importer of South American wines, has confirmed a new strategic partnership with Young’s Market Company. Effective June 1, Young’s will assume exclusive distribution rights for Excelsior Wines in seven states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
The agreement brings expanded resources for Excelsior’s portfolio, including Chile’s Concha y Toro; Don Melchor; the flagship Casillero del Diablo line; Frontera, known for Chilean value wines; Argentina’s Trivento; and Little Black Dress Wines from California. Several new third-party brands are also projected to be launched in fall 2017.