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New Bordeaux negociant moves into New York

Bordeaux negociant Diva has became the latest player to expand in the US, following Joanne and Compagnie Medocaine.

The company has had offices in California since 2008, but has now decided to expand onto the east coast.

Director Jean-Pierre Rousseau told decanter.com they already have a number of international offices but there is a key difference in that US branches sell wines directly.

Other international offices, such as Hong Kong, simply represent the company and liaise with importers.

‘In New York, we will effectively be the first tier of the three-tier system, and are considering opening a separate distribution company for the second tier.’

The three-tier system is the statutory alcohol distribution system under which the producer must sell to the distributor, who must then sell to the retailer. Only retailers may sell to consumers.

Chris Adams, managing director of Sherry Lehmann in New York, said, ‘I’m excited that a handful of negociants are working on setting up shop here in America.’

Adams referred also to the gap left by Chateau & Estates, owned by Diageo and the main importer and distributor of Bordeaux in the US, which withdrew from the Bordeaux market in December 2009, dumping large amounts of stock onto the market.

‘The vast majority of US retailers don’t have direct links to Bordeaux, and for them – notably for restaurants – Chateau & Estates was a lifeline. It’s an opportunity, too, for Bordeaux to have a better feel for how the wines are distributed.’

Rousseau stressed that Diva has not bought back wines from C&E. Diva’s New York branch, headed by David Stephan, will concentrate on importing and selling wines from Bordeaux itself.

Both Joanne and Compagnie Medocaine have bought back wines and will keep them within the US, selling through their new outlets.

There are concerns, however, that buying back wines from the US – particularly in the case of properties such as Petrus and Gruaud Larose, which have both repatriated ex-C&E stocks – could threaten Bordeaux’s one big advantage: the guarantee of traceability and provenance.

Stephane Rouveyrol, a director of Bordeaux Provenance, a new negotiant that guarantees traceability, said, ‘As the value of these wines gets higher, it’s essential to know exactly where they have been, and how they have been stored.’

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Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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