Accolade Wines and Pernod Ricard have refused to be drawn on fresh reports in Australia the two companies are in talks over the French giant’s local wine assets.

Reports in The Australian and The Australian Financial Review say the businesses are in discussions about Pernod Ricard’s wine stable in Australia.

Approached by Just Drinks, a Pernod spokesperson said: “We never comment on M&A rumours and so therefore are not in a position to provide any statement relating to this subject.”

An Accolade spokesperson declined to comment.

Pernod’s New Zealand wine portfolio includes Brancott Estate and Stoneleigh, while in Australia it produces St Hugo, Jacob’s Creek and George Wyndham.

In February, Australian Vintage confirmed it was in “very early” talks over a potential merger with domestic peer Accolade Wines.

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The news came just weeks after weeks after an investor consortium took over Accolade to “build a more secure long-term future of the business”.

At the time, The Australian newspaper did also name Pernod Ricard’s Australian division as a potential candidate to combine with Hardys brand owner Accolade.

Earlier this month, Australian Vintage, home to McGuigan wines, ended the contract of CEO Craig Garvin.

In a stock-exchange filing, the company said its board had fired Garvin “for engaging in conduct that, in its view, displayed a lack of judgement and was inconsistent with the values of the company and the high standards expected of its chief executive officer”.

However, Australian Vintage said Garvin’s exit “should have no impact on the preliminary discussions” between the two companies.

It added: “Those discussions are continuing, although there remains no certainty that any transaction will eventuate”.

In September last year, The Australian Financial Review said Pernod Ricard had asked two investment banks to conduct a “strategic review” of its businesses in Australia and New Zealand.

In response to that report, a spokesperson for Pernod Ricard said at the time the company “regularly assesses and evaluates its strategic opportunities and is continuously exploring options, including divestments or the streamlining of some or part of individual business units”. They added: “No decision has been made regarding any particular action.”

For its financial year 2023, Pernod reported its ‘strategic wine’ category accounted for 4% of net sales but experienced a 2% decline in organic net sales.

Last year, Accolade Wines disposed of several assets – including ginger wine brand Stone’s and sparkling wine brand House of Arras. In 2022, it sold off The Park bottling and warehouse facility in the UK, as well as three vineyards in the McLaren vale.

Last month, Accolade Wines urged red-grape growers in the Riverland region of Australia to accept a buyout package as the company sought to stem historic wine oversupplies.

The move came amid country-wide oversupplies of approximately 2.2bn litres as China’s hefty wine tariffs, inflated logistics, energy and shipping costs and declining alcohol consumption devastated Australia’s red-wine industry.

Despite the renewal of trade with China in March, Accolade said growth there would be too slow to salvage the “unsustainable” market value of grapes resulting from the above headwinds.

Last month, Pernod expanded its wine portfolio in France’s Côtes-de-Provence with the acquisition of the Aux Terres de Ravel estate.

Aux Terres de Ravel portfolio includes the “ultra-premium” brands Symphonie, Fantastique and Marguerite en Provence. The estate consists of 280 hectares of vineyards.