Monday, September 23, 2013

News Briefs: Martin Wine Cellar and Mulderbosch

Courtesy of Shanken News Daily, I learned that Cedric Martin won Retailer of the Year from Market Watch. I congratulate my former boss but quibble with the wording in the report. "Martin, whose business was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has since rebuilt and even expanded, emerging far stronger after Katrina’s devastation." Expansion has happened. Martin Wine Cellar did not have outposts in Mandeville or Baton Rouge before the storm, but they do now. There has been no rebuilding however.
I wrote of the demolition in 2011 and was pleased to see ground breaking shortly after. No progress has been observed since.

Cedric announced plans to have the original location (3827 Baronne St.) up and running in 2014 but I will believe it when I see it. Again, I applaud his award and tip my cap to his many successes but the uptown outpost they operate now is cramped and pales in comparison to the destination the old store used to be.
I hope for his sake the store is rebuilt and revived. If that happens, this award should go to him. Until then, it appears premature. Other wine retailers have opened since Katrina and many are thriving, something nearly unfathomable when Martin's dominated the market.

Mulderbosch was featured in Shanken News Daily recently. I am a fan of the winery, their chenin and sauvignon blancs and, especially, their fantastic chardonnay (I know, rare for me to rave about one of those). However, the plans to expand concern me.
According to the Wine Spectator, Mulderbosch's total production when Mike Dobrovic left was 45,000 cases, "shipping 40 percent of its wares to the U.S. market." (That's 18,000 cases if you don't want to do the math.) That was 2009. Based on the numbers SND reports, U.S. sales are "expected to rise by more than 25% to above 40,000 cases this year, representing about a quarter of the winery's production." That is more than twofold in the U.S. and just under four times the total cases during Mike's tenure.
It is always possible to expand like that and maintain quality but it is not easy. "The goal is to grow Mulberbosch to 150,000 cases in the U.S. market within five years." The previous goal may be attainable but this one is untenable, in my opinion. Not that they can't reach the number, I just believe they can not produce the same excellent wines at this volume. There was no discussion about sourcing grapes for this expansion but I would be amazed if they came from the estate.


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