Constellation Brands Considers Selling Lower-end Brands

November 28, 2018
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One of the world’s largest wine companies wants to shrink but move to the higher end of the market.

Beverage giant Constellation Brands recently announced it may sell off portions of its global wine portfolio as it focuses on more expensive brands and the budding cannabis industry. Its portfolio is inescapable, with the likes of Robert Mondavi, Ravensvood, Kim Crawford and Meiomi, but the sale of some of its lower-end brands could include Clos du Bois, Arbor Mist, Black Box and Cook’s.

Constellation was known as Canandaigua Wine Co., building upon Richard’s Wild Irish Rose, Marcus James and Sun Country wine coolers with Manischewitz and then, it seems, extending its reach around the world. It even touched spirits such as Black Velvet and beers such as Corona and Ballast Point.

What will a sale mean to the brands? Not much. They are generally mass-produced wines. Entry-level wines of Mondavi, Ruffino and Ravenswood suffered under Constellation; the quality of higher-end wines, such as Opus One and Meiomi, however, has been stable.

If Quentin Tarantino developed a wine brand, it may look like Kung Fu Girl Washington Riesling. The simple, enjoyable riesling shows character of peach and apple with a touch of residual sugar ideal for spicy take-out or your favorite BYOB. $14.

Prisoner 2016 Napa Valley Red Wine is a zinfandel-dominated blend. This big red wine is very typical, if better, than many of the red blends being produced today. It offers big, juicy character with berry and cocoa and a round texture but is overpriced. $45. ★★★ 1/2

Brands such as Kim Crawford, Nobilo and Charles Smith are among my favorite brands and worth checking out.

GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★,

Poor ★.

DAVID FALCHEK, executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week.

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