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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Wednesday, December 23 2009. 11:05

Lombard Champagne Lands in India

Another Champagne label has landed  in India with the recent launch of Lombard Brut and Brut Rose in Delhi and Mumbai by the wine and spirits importer Aspri Spirits, marked by the visit of the President of the family owned Champagne House, Thierry Lombard.

Whole owned by Thierry Lombard, the ‘House of Lombard’ is a true family run enterprise. The House (as wineries are generally known in Champagne, in contrast with Chateaux in Bordeaux and Domaines in Burgundy) has been with the family for three generations. Thierry who took over the reins of the business in 1980 seemed delighted with the presence in this country. "India is an emerging market for champagne and is expected to become the key driver of global market growth. We want to be a part of this phenomenon and believe Aspri will be a very good partner,’ he said.

This is the first time that Aspri has entered into the champagne market. ‘Champagne has always remained Jewel in the Crown among all wines and we are happy to be exclusively associated with Champagne Lombard for Indian Market,’ said Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO of Aspri Spirits and the soul behind the wine division of the previously spirits driven import company owned by Jackie Matai and Arun Kumar.

High prices due to high import duties and heavy excise duty in Delhi make the growth of Champagne market in the retail segment an uphill task in India. Lombard Brut is priced at Rs. 5,380 and Brut-Rosé at Rs. 6,595 in Mumbai according to the company, which may appear to be high until one looks at the Delhi prices.

Priced at Rs.8,930 for Brut and Rs.10,630 for Brut-Rosé in Delhi Lombard may be consigned to a wedding reception bottle or two and may not find many takers in the retail market, especially when French sparklers like Bouvet Ladubay are available at less than a fourth of the price-not to mention the likes of the popular Freixenet Cava from Spain which sells for around Rs. 1200.

Indian bubblies like Sula Brut, Marquise de Pompadour priced between Rs.550-800 would not even bat an eyelid at the entry of such high priced products. Sula let go of Taittinger Champagne as Rajeev Samant felt the volumes at the prices did not justify in continuing with the label. Even Indage with the biggest national network had let go of another popular brand a few years ago as they were not successful in marketing it.

Currently FineWinesnMore is flirting with Canard Duchene, Brindco is bearing with Beringer and the lower priced Pommery while Prestige Wines took the baton from Sula. Sonarys is happy with Pol Roger and Naresh Uttamchandani of Sovereign has draped himself with Drappier. Sula is currently promoting Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Champagne

A scourge for the Champagne market is of course, the ubiquitous Moet Chandon which makes life very difficult (read hell!) for any other entrant, to say the least. Like the Spanish giant Torres which makes every Spanish producer shudder not only in India but in other markets as well, Moet and the high- end Dom Perignon are well-established brands that are a big deterrent in the growth of othe brands due to its pricing and promotion policies and the amounts the parent company LVMH spends to maintain the brand image..

According to The Wine Trials 2010, a Guide to Inexpensive Wines, authored by Robin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch and published in the USA by Fearless Critic, LVMH- the producers of Moet Chandon, Dom Perignon, Krug and Veuve Clicquot etc Champagnes had revenues of $26 billion in 2007. Out of this, $11 billion (43%) were spent on sales, marketing and overheads. As a comparison, the mega-wine producer Constellation spent $768 million on the same, a mere 12% of the $6.4 billion revenues in the same period!

Most Champagne Houses and importers find it difficult to match these budgets- not to discount the fact that the company maintains its own office in India. No wonder the perceived growth in the Champagne market in Indian is due to the special deals given to the 5-star hotels with duty free licenses where one can savour unlimited amount of Champagne (read Moet or its cousin Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin) with a royal food spread that even includes lobster and caviar, for under Rs.3000 at the Sunday brunches.

However Sumedh Singh Mandla is unfazed. ‘We will target about 10 key cities across India this year and shall strive towards making Lombard available across all key hotels, restaurants, Lounges and top end retail shops. We have a strong marketing and distribution network which will help us reach out to the increasing number of sparkling wine lovers across India.’

Lombard with its distinct and fine style of tender, sweet and vanilla flavours is available overseas at $40, marginally higher than Moet at $37 (indicative prices in the US, sourced from It may even be better Price-Quality Champagne. At any rate, it would provide a change in flavour and style and one hopes it lands up in a few of the restaurants Sumedh is targeting, so one can enjoy a bottle at a Sunday brunch with a hearty and leisurely meal at prices one can afford.



Vishal Soni Says:


Posted @ November 28, 2010 17:15


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