The new Cinzano sparkling wine packaging has started to roll out

The new Cinzano sparkling wine packaging has started to roll out

Last month, Gruppo Campari used the 260th anniversary of Cinzano to mark the start of a new era for the vermouth and sparkling wine brand. Lucy Britner was in Turin with the MD of the company's Italian Icons unit, Andrea Neri, and global director of sparkling wine & vermouth Biancamaria Sansone to get the low-down on the next steps for Cinzano.

Gruppo Campari has a proven track record for changing the fortunes of dusty old brands. Take Aperol: The firm used a key serve - the Aperol Spritz - and the rise of cocktail culture to propel the brand. In fact, during a half-year results presentation in August, CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz hailed the "standout performance" of the brand, now the group's largest with around 14% of Campari's total sales in the six months to the end of June.

Kunze-Concewitz also shared a slide of Instagram posts, centred around the Aperol Spritz. One post, from US model Kate Upton, showed 96,740 likes.

Fast-forward a month to Turin and a group of journalists and bloggers are surrounded by carefully-curated, Instagram-centric scenes. From old tractors and rolling vineyard shots in nearby Langhe, where some of the brand's sparkling wine comes from, to tours of vermouth's home, Turin, in classic Italian cars, Campari wanted visitors to understand where Cinzano comes from.

"What we need to do is leverage in a positive way all of this heritage and the historical traditions -  and put the focus on the craftsmanship and history - and use this as an opportunity to reinvent and reshape the brand," Andrea Neri, MD Italian Icons, tells me. (The other two Italian Icons are Campari and Aperol.) 

Brand Cinzano's volumes are split roughly 50/50 between vermouth and sparkling wine.

Sparkling wine

So far, this has lead to the redesign of the Cinzano sparkling wine range - and the launch of a traditional method vintage, Cinzano 260 Cuvée. Cinzano has the advantage of being an Italian sparkling wine brand - rather than, say, a Prosecco brand. You can get Cinzano Prosecco but there's also scope for things like Asti and this new vintage - made using the traditional method and from Champagne grape varieties.

Neri says the redesign of the range not only offers a "more premium look and feel" but also segments the range "in a much clearer way with standard offers [and] more premium vintages".

"The new launch is testament to the winemaking skills, craftsmanship and heritage that the brand has."

He describes the 260th anniversary as a time to "really mark a moment for the brand in the future". "We have started this journey of reshaping, redeveloping and relaunching the brand," Neri adds.

What does this mean in investment terms? "I can't tell you any data about the investment," says Neri.

On a company level, Campari has been working to remove still wines from its portfolio. In June, the firm completed its full exit, offloading Château de Sancerre to Maison Ackerman.

What makes sparkling wines different?

For global director of sparkling wine & vermouth Biancamaria Sansone, there is a clear differentiation between the two, and a clear reason why sparkling remains an important part of Campari's portfolio. "Sparkling wine is more relevant at aperitivo moments," notes Sansone. "Secondly, in contemporary and classic mixology, there are several cocktails that need sparkling wine. So, for our portfolio a sparkling wine proposition makes a lot of sense."

At the same time, she describes the still wine segment as "another world" that requires a "different level of knowledge".

"We need a different business unit to manage the still wine, whereas sparkling wine is absolutely in our strategy."

Vermouth

When it comes to Cinzano vermouth, the path divides in two. On the one hand, there is the premium, cocktail proposition - Cinzano 1757 - while on the other, there is the core Classic range.

Vermouth's renaissance, Neri says, is at the "premium and super-premium" end of the market.

"A lot of interest from bartenders is at the top of the category, where some traditional brands are seeing some traction at the moment - it is where our Cinzano 1757 plays a role. It was developed a few years ago, foreseeing this growing trend."

Meanwhile, he describes the standard end of the category as "in decline", where it has been for "almost ten years now".

But, there is hope.

"What we see in the more traditional vermouth markets, such as Argentina, Spain, Italy, are new generations that are approaching vermouth as a more mainstream drink," explains Neri. "When I say mainstream, I don't mean with low value or quality, I mean in the sense of the consumption moment - not highly-sophisticated bars or cocktails - just with an olive and a splash of soda."

Utilising the relatively simple Aperol Spritz serve has proved successful for the company. So, it doesn't come as a surprise when Sansone describes the Cinzano Classic vermouth, soda, orange slice and olive combination as a key serve for the brand. In Italy, the moment of consumption even has a name - l'ora del vermouth.

At the same time, she sees the 1757 iteration as a "perfect companion in mixology and classic cocktails" with "80% of classic cocktails using a vermouth rosso".

New packaging has started to roll out to key marketings in Italy, Spain and Russia, although it sounds like this is just the start of brand Cinzano's future.

Vermouth - The next big thing? - Consumer Trends

Expert analysis

Global Vermouth Market 2017-2021

Global Vermouth Market 2017-2021

Vermouth is a type of wine which is fortified with various botanicals such as roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs, and spices. Vermouth is usually consumed as an aperitif. There are two types of vermo...read more