Italy's Masseto winemakers eye growth in Asia with caution
By Svetlana Kovalyova
CASTAGNETO CARDUCCI, Italy (Reuters Life!) - Financial markets may have turned sour but well-heeled consumers, especially in Asia, are still thirsty for renowned top quality wines, such as Italy's most expensive red Masseto, its makers say.
Fine wines with prices starting at triple digits have become brands like top watches or cars, whose high quality and wide brand recognition give consumers some much sought after investment security, Giovanni Geddes, chief executive of the Tenuta dell'Ornellaia estate which makes Masseto, told Reuters.
"The fine wine market is not that different from the general luxury goods market. Demand for luxury goods, and wines, is growing everywhere, but much more so in the richest markets, such as Asia," Geddes said in an interview.
Luxury goods makers, including the world's leader LVMH which owns Moet & Chandon champagne and Hennessy cognac, posted forecast-beating double-digit growth in first half sales and profits while global economic gloom weighed on markets.
Masseto, with retail prices of up to 600 euros ($808) a bottle, is not a household Italian name like Chianti.
But its brand is well known among wine connoisseurs and sales have gone "from strength to strength" so far this year, according to Alex Belson, sales and marketing director at the Tenuta dell'Ornellaia.
"There seems to be a very steadfast group of collectors, opinion leaders and wine lovers who are not affected by the economic climate. They continue to love this wine," Belson said, declining to give precise sales figures.
Full-body Masseto, which only gets better as it ages, has a strong investment appeal particularly in turbulent market times. Continued...