Italian wine house Antinori suspended shipments to Russia

The Russian wine market may lose products of one of the oldest Italian producers Antinori, whose main estates are concentrated in Tuscany. The wine house has suspended deliveries to the country, but the distributor has built up stocks to meet sales plans. Other importers on this background may try to poach the supplier.

The Italian wine house Antinori has suspended deliveries to Russia, three sources told Kommersant in major alcohol companies. According to two Kommersant interlocutors, the decision may be connected with Antinori unwillingness to work with the Russian Federation “because of the geopolitical crisis. Another Kommersant source holds that the supplier may have had difficulties in its relations with the distributor MBG Wine, or the parties may have disputed the terms of cooperation. One of Kommersant’s interlocutors has assured that the suspension has nothing to do with the EU sanctions which prohibit supplies of alcohol to Russia in excess of €300 per unit.

The head of the Board of Directors of MBG Wine Irina Fomina told Kommersant that the contract with Antinori is maintained, but deliveries have indeed been suspended. She did not disclose the reason for that. According to Fomina, MBG Wine has a stock that “fully covers the sales plans” and there’s no need for additional supplies. Antinori did not answer the questions of Kommersant.

Antinori was founded in 1385 and is considered one of the oldest wine houses in Italy. It is run by the Antinori family. Most of the estates are concentrated in Tuscany. The area of vineyards in the country, according to its own data, more than 700 hectares. It also operates wineries in Chile and the United States. Antinori is ranked fifth in Drinks International’s 2022 ranking of the most recognized wine brands in the world.

Alexander Stavtsev, the head of WineRetail, says that so far small wineries have refused to supply Russia, while Antinori is one of the most famous and iconic names for the market. Although in Russia these wines had a small share, he notes. A Kommersant source on the spirits market says that MBG Wine has apparently built up a stock of Antinori wines in preparation for a possible supply stoppage, taking into account a long period of sales. But Antinori does not belong to the super-premium segment, so it sells out pretty quickly, adds the Kommersant interlocutor. At WineStyle online storefront Antinori wines are priced from 1.4 thousand rubles to 98.9 thousand rubles for a bottle of 0.75 liters.

Andrey Ushakov, marketing director of Luding Group, says that supplies of still and sparkling wines from partners in Italy continue in full swing, and in the first half of 2022 imports from the country increased by 10%, to 4.9 million liters a year. Alexander Lipilin, executive director of the wine-trading company Fort, noted that Italian suppliers did not refuse to work with the company, and with some small wineries Fort itself stopped working because of the spring price increase, while adding several new Italian producers to the portfolio. Fort’s imports from the country declined in early 2022 mainly because of payment and logistics problems, but in August the situation leveled off to last year’s level, Lipilin said.

Maxim Kashirin, president of Simple Group, in an interview with Kommersant in 2021: “In the wine segment the existing big players are strengthening.

According to Kommersant’s sources, against the background of difficulties with supplies of Antinori to Russia competitors of MBG Wine may try to poach the right to distribute these wines. In particular, Beluga Group has been showing interest in Antinori for a long time, the Kommersant interlocutors say. However, one of Kommersant’s sources said that so far Antinori does not want to discuss changing the distributor. The Beluga Group was not available for comment. Stavtsev explains that the distributor who wants to entice a supplier usually offers a higher sales plan than the current importer. But improvement of commercial terms is unlikely to lead to a change in the political position, he points out.

Andrey Ushakov says that Italian wines now represent almost 25% of the Russian market and their sales grow by 10-12% annually, and there is far more potential than that, despite the rise in prices due to accelerating inflation in the eurozone and the low harvest after this year’s hot summer.

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Written by Medvedev


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