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Russian winemaker pays EUR8m for Prosecco producer Contarini

Sparkling wine producer Igristy Vina has joined a growing number of Russian drinks firms buying foreign wine labels, after closing a deal for Italy’s Contarini.

Igristy Vina has agreed to pay €8m for Prosecco DOCG producer Contarini, and will also pay off the Italian sparkling wine producer’s debts, estimated at €20m.

The deal is the latest example of recent investment in wine by Russian drinks firms.

Igristy Vina rival Abrau Durso has said it will spend €10m to up its domestic sparkling wine production capacity over the next few years, while vodka maker Russian Standard has taken a majority stake in Italy’s Gancia and is also partnering Concha y Toro in Russia.

Vasily Dragan, chairman of Igristy Vina, said the Contarini acquisition enables the firm to significantly increase its sparkling wine range and produce its own brands – such as Masters’ Heritage and LEV Golitsyn – at Contarini’s facilities.

Contarini is the one of the largest Prosecco producers, with annual volumes of 20m bottles. Around 500,000 bottles are exported to Russia annually and Igristy Vina wants this figure to top the 1m barrier this year.

Alongside Prosecco DOCG, Contarini also makes Prosecco DOC and Prosecco Frizzante DOC, as well as some still wines, including Colli di Congeliano DOCG Rosso.

Contarini’s wines are pitched at around the RUB400 to RUB550 level (US$11.4 to $15.7) at retailers in Russia.
While the domestic market remains a strong focus for many Russian wine producers, some are keen to increase their exports.

But, it will take time. Abrau-Durso chairman Pavel Titov said he wants exports to reach 5% of group sales in the short-to-medium-term, without putting naming a date.

Abrau-Durso produced 25m bottles of sparkling wine in 2013, up 25% on 2012. Its investment plan would see production rise to 34m bottles annually.

Written by Eugene Gerden

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