Saturday, October 01, 2005

Funny What You Catch if You Pay Attention

So last week, Opus One announces that it will not only retain its independence, but that it's partners, Baron Phillippe de Rothschild (BPdR) and Constellation Brands(CB) (by way of their acquisition of Robert Mondavi Corp) will stay as 50/50 partners and go on happily ever after.

Then, last Friday, a
press release was issued that, on the surface, seems totally unrelated to the above story. The companies involved, however, are BPdR and CB yet there is no mention anywhere in the release about their partnership in Opus One, it instead implies that this is simply an import agreement where CB will take on Mouton Cadet, the new line extensions of Blanc and Rouge, the Chilean brand, Escudo Rojo and several others.

I imagine that the negotiations over Opus One went something along the lines of this:

Baroness: "We thought we were paired with the blue bloods of the Napa Valley and now we're stuck with some New York nouveau riche hoodlums who make Wild Irish Rose?"

CB: "Hey, we own Ravenswood too! No wimpy wines!"

Baroness: "Perhaps if you will import and sell the vast array of wines we have from our less successful brands, then we could see our way to staying partners with you in Opus One, provided that none of you show up to any of the events"

CB: "Never met a label we couldn't cram down a distributor's throat! Deal!"


Blogger jfalstaff said...

Nice call, Huge - that seems a likely scenario. My question is "how long will it last"? Opus must positively bleed capital, and it looks like some vineyard re-planting is going to be needed soon. How long will the bean-counters at CB support this? And what sort of performance metrics are BdPR expecting from CB for their second and third tier products? I seems likely that for CB, sales of the full BdPR line will net zero for their overall portfolio - at least in the short term. So - when Opus does come on the market, who do we think the buyer will be?

January 07, 2006 10:55 AM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

Falstaff (if I may call you Fallstaff):

I think that Opus might actually be unsaleable. Fact is, its planted in the deepest, wettest fluvial soil in Oakville. Despite vast spending on the vineyards and their continued farming, the quality will never be what was expected (well, expected by the French, I think the Mondavis must have known what a lemon they were getting rid of).

Opus surely spends a lot of capital, but I think Mondavi used to push it out the door to make quarterly forecasts, so I think its still highly profitable.

I think it will stay profitable as long as people are still foolish enough to pay $140/btl for that stuff, and will be another star in the Constellation for quite some time.

St. Vini

January 09, 2006 11:34 AM  

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