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Vranken-Pommery seals vineyard deal

Published:  23 July, 2008

Vranken-Pommery Monopole has spent a massive 20 million for 21 hectares (ha) of land in Champagne, a transaction the company claims is the biggest of its kind in the region within the past decade.

The acquisition brings the amount of land owned by the house to 256ha, although individual growers will still provide the majority of grapes for its range of wines from a further 1,800ha.

Vranken-Pommery Monopole fought off interest from at least 10 other Champagne houses to obtain the 21ha parcel, and owner Nathalie Vranken told Harpers that the success was due to a good relationship with the seller'.

She said the new land would not be used to extend the company's range of Champagnes nor introduce any changes to existing lines, but instead to gain more control over the growing stage and to give a greater sense of comfort'.

Commenting on the secret to buying land in Champagne, she said: There's nothing mystical about it, you just have to make friends with your neighbours and take chances when they come up.'

Having just celebrated a 30th anniversary, the Vranken family is a relatively modern addition to the Champagne fraternity, although purchases of Heidsieck & Co Monopole and Pommery in 1996 and 2002 respectively, have led to the company's current position as the second-biggest producer of Champagne behind LVMH.

Vranken has also recently launched the new Diamant range, a premium tier for the brand which consists of four different cuves.

The company also announced its full-year results last week: global sales increased by 10.1% to 250m in 2005; net profits rose by 48% to 14.1m and the dividend increased by 53% to 1.15 per share.

The house has grown rapidly over the past decade and exports now account for 45% of total sales. It is forecasting sales growth of between 6% and 7% for 2006 following a buoyant first quarter in which turnover rose by 5.5% to 41m.

Rozs Port, also part of the Vranken-Pommery Monopole group, has announced the release of its new range of Ports called the Colours Collection, which is designed to break away from the conventional Port category.

A younger generation of drinkers has been targeted through boldly coloured red, white and gold bottles, and the blends are intended to be easy-drinking, accessible and suitable for serving at 14C.

The range, which comprises the Red Reserve (9.99), White Reserve (9.99) and Gold 10 Year Old Reserve Tawny (24.99), is aimed at both the on- and off-trade. The wines are available through Justerini & Brooks.

This new idea has come from the company's president, Jean-Franois Vranken, who told Harpers: The old-style of Port drinkers are dying out. We need to move with the times.'

The traditional range of Rozs Port remains unchanged.