Bordeaux's image on the international wine market is hampered by a lack of premium brands that can appeal to mainstream consumers, the managing director of Baron Philippe de Rothschild has said.
Hugues Lechanoine of Baron Philippe de Rothschild
Bordeauxmay be home to some of the world’s most prestigious wine estates, but the top wines from those chateaux only represent a small part of the French region’s overall wine business.
To keep Bordeaux relevant to everyday consumers, the area’s 9,000 chateaux need to work harder on brand building, according to Hugues Lechanoine, whose remit at Baron Philippe de Rothschild covers the Mouton Cadet label alongside first growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
‘If you compare Bordeaux to Champagne or to some new world regions regions, I think we have a lack of premium or qualitative brands,’ Lechanoine told Decanter.com.
‘I think that’s part of the challenge of the Bordeaux region,’ he said, during a trip to London to mark Mouton Cadet’s sponsorship of the Ryder Cup, which was retained by Europe at Gleneagles in Scotland over the weekend.
It is one of the first interviews Lechanoine has given since the death of Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the company’s matriarch and who oversaw range extensions on Mouton Cadet and a shift in strategy.
‘In 2003, we changed the style of the wine and the quality of the grape sourcing,’ said Lechanoine, who arrived at the business in the same year.
The style evolved to emphasise more fruit and the firm began switching to long-term contracts, with a minimum length of three years, for all of its third party grape growers, Lechanoine said. Growers are tightly managed, with a central team deciding when harvest should begin.
Further brand extensions have arrived in recent years, including a Sauvignon Blanc under screwcap launched last year and the release of Mouton Cadet Vintage Edition following the 2011 harvest.
Around 12m bottles of Mouton Cadet are currently sold annually, of which 80% is red wine. Despite that, Lechanoine said he doesn’t see the brand as an entry-level wine for the novice consumer.
‘It’s not our role to get new people involved in wine or Bordeaux. We don’t have the muscles to do that. Our mission is to make new value propositions to people who have already entered the wine world.’
Lechanoine said that he doesn’t expect major changes at the firm following the death of Baroness Rothschild. ‘It is a big loss, but we are all very confident. I think we will carry on with the same values. It will be the same family – the children [of the Baroness] were already on the supervisory board.’
Written by Chris Mercer