Foreign Affair Brands
Our Foreign Affair brands represent Corby’s first foray into the VQA Canadian wine category, and include signature Appassimento-style wines such as The Conspiracy, Conspiracy Bianco, Amarosé and the award-winning, winery favourite, Temptress.
Our initial focus has been on taking The Conspiracy national. A Ripasso-style wine of Bordeaux grape varieties, The Conspiracy 2016 earned a Gold medal at the 2018 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada and was awarded 90 points by Rick VanSickle of Wines in Niagara in April 2018.
In fiscal 2019, The Conspiracy not only maintained growth at the LCBO, where it is part of the Vintages Essentials collection; it was also listed in the key wine markets of British Columbia, Alberta and Québec for the first time. During the year, we also conducted a range review and packaging refresh of the Foreign Affair brands, which will be implemented in fiscal 2020.
While the wine category as a whole declined in fiscal 2019, liquor board sales of Foreign Affair brands, as reported by the Association of Canadian Distillers (ACD), rose 23.3% in volume and 24% in value compared to 2018. ACD figures do not take into account products sold through direct delivery (on-premise) or at the Foreign Affair on-site retail store, where the majority of our sales are conducted.
The secret is out on The Conspiracy, a Ripasso-style wine of Bordeaux grape varieties, which is now listed in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Québec.
Ungava Spirits Brands
Having introduced two new wine innovations, Divine Sunshine and Coureurs des Vignes, in the Québec grocery channel in fiscal 2018, we launched Cordero, a Spanish Tempranillo, and Jardin de Lys, a French Pinot Noir, at the end of 2019. While distribution in this competitive channel is restricted to wines bottled in Québec, we’re able to access it by utilizing our Cowansville production facility.
In Québec, only eight wines sold in grocery stores are permitted to list the appellation on their label. A big win for us in fiscal 2019 was having Cordero and Jardin de Lys approved among the eight.
Pernod Ricard Brands
Jacob’s Creek, Stoneleigh and Campo Viejo are the key Pernod Ricard wine brands Corby represents in Canada. With the wine category as a whole weakening for the first time in years, we took steps to offset the retail slowdown by expanding distribution in the on-premise channel and accelerating wine innovations.
After several years of robust, double-digit growth, Jacob’s Creek shipments decreased by 2.5% in fiscal 2019. The range was led by products in the “light and fresh” category, such as Moscato Rosé and Moscato Dots as well as the newly introduced Dots Pinot Grigio. To drive further conversion of Jacob’s Creek’s light and fresh portfolio, we launched various summer sangria programs in late fiscal 2019 that co-promoted other brands in our portfolio, such as Absolut vodka, Malibu rum, Ungava gin and McGuinness liqueurs.
A key innovation was Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Chardonnay, which pushes the boundaries of winemaking by finishing in aged Scotch whisky barrels.
Shipments of Stoneleigh wines were up 2.5% compared to fiscal 2018, and ahead of the New Zealand wine category, which grew by 1.6% in volume. The top story was the permanent listing of Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc in the LCBO Vintages Essentials collection, which bodes well for its future.
A mix of first-time activations and programs helped drive Stoneleigh awareness and trial, including:
- a mass media campaign in Toronto and Vancouver, which was run alongside a digital campaign;
- participation in International Sauvignon Blanc Day activities and New Zealand wine fairs in Canada, as well as panel discussions and consumer Visa Infinite Dinners, which gave us a chance to communicate the unique profile of Stoneleigh compared to other New Zealand brands; and
- new partnerships with influencers and with The Keg, with whom we ran a national necktag contest.
Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc earned a permanent listing in the LCBO Vintages Essentials collection of handpicked, proven favourites from around the world.
The Spanish wine category was especially challenging in fiscal 2019, dominated as it was by new low-priced entrants in Ontario. The bright spot for Campo Viejo was Québec, where Campo Viejo Tempranillo made strong value share gains.
To offset retail declines, our spring 2019 campaign blanketed Toronto with the bright colours of Campo Viejo through strategically placed transit shelter and streetcar ads. Brand ambassadors organized activations at premium events for target consumers, such as Women’s Night Out, WeWork and The Depanneur master classes.
The Wine Group Brands
Corby represents the wines of California-based The Wine Group (TWG) in Canada. TWG regularly evolves its portfolio in line with customer and consumer needs and preferences and, as a result, we’re able to bring Canadians the wines they want most – which currently are trending to more premium and varietal wines.
We had good success in fiscal 2019 with the two new brands added to our portfolio the year prior – the Ava Grace range, which is targeted at women, and Stave & Steel, a Cabernet Sauvignon aged in oak barrels that have been toasted, charred and drenched in Kentucky bourbon. Stave & Steel has just about reached national distribution.
In fiscal 2019, Slow Press Cabernet Sauvignon was successfully launched in Québec.