Jewel of Japan: Kirin’s Mercian partners with Chilean wine giant to boost worldwide reach

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Mercian is partnering with Concha y Toro to launch premium products including Japanese wines with a globalised flavour profile. ©Concha y Toro/Kirin
Mercian is partnering with Concha y Toro to launch premium products including Japanese wines with a globalised flavour profile. ©Concha y Toro/Kirin

Related tags Japan Kirin Wine

Kirin wine brand Mercian is partnering with Chilean wine giant Concha y Toro to launch a series of premium products including Japanese wines with a globalised flavour profile to improve its worldwide reach.

Chateau Mercian is one of Japan’s leading wine brands, whereas Concha y Toro is one of the 10 largest wine companies globally.

The new partnership between both parties, dubbed the Pacific Link Project, will look at seasonal developments of two new wines of Chilean and Japanese origin throughout the year based on the seasonal differences in both countries.

“The harvest and vinification time [for grapes] is March in Chile, and September in Japan – so in March the focus will be to make a new Chilean wine with a powerful flavour concurring with the spring season, whereas in September the focus will be on making a Japanese wine concurring with the Autumn season,”​ Viña Concha y Toro Regional Director for Asia Pacific Guy Nussey told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“We have first focused on the development of a Japanese wine during the 2023 autumn season, and utilised Concha y Toro knowledge of the global wine market to create a variant with a flavour balance that is more acceptable to global consumers than current variants.”

Mercian also candidly discussed its business plans to drive global recognition of Mercian exports via this project.

“Before this, Mercian products have been very much catered to the Japanese palate with much higher acidity – based on advice from Concha y Toro, we will be lowering this to moderate acidity to better appeal to a wider audience as well as domestic consumers,”​ Mercian Marketing Department General Manager Aya Jindo told us.

“The aim via this project is to increase Mercian exports by 1.4 times in terms of value compared with 2023 numbers of around 12,000L, and to promote the globalisation of Mercian via their worldwide network.

“The first launch of the first new wine from this project, Chateau Mercian Iwade Koshu Amicis, will be launched in Singapore.”

This product will also be launched within Concha y Toro’s new luxury marketing strategy dubbed Jewels of the New World, where it pairs each luxury wine with a precious gemstone such as opal, topaz or lapis lazuli as part of its marketing.

“The Jewels concept is a marketing method we conceptualised based on 19 months of market research conducted on wealthy Asian consumers,”​ Nussey said.

“We found that affluent consumers in this market want wines that are more traditional and higher quality than their peers in developed western markets – in short, they value the associated status of a wine over being a connoisseur, and they value the story and experience behind a wine over its history.

“So associating each product with a gemstone gives it a rare and precious connotation that will appeal to consumers according to their sensibilities – and the Koshu does fulfil many of the attributes of this range hence we have also included this in the Jewels range and associated it with the jade gemstone.”

South American accessibility

The Jewels concept was initially created to increase the accessibility of South American wines to Asian consumers due to a relative lack of understanding about products from the region in this market.

“Many Asian consumers have next to no familiarity with South America as it is literally the furthest market away from here,”​ Nussey added.

“So the usual conversations about origins and provenance would not have much effect here, as consumers would have no familiarity with these at all – so a new way of communicating was needed to express how these fine wines are tied with scarcity and quality, in terms that the consumers can understand.”

Concha y Toro Vice President of Fine Wines and Corporate Image Isabel Guilisasti added that the importance of storytelling in the wine industry has become much more important in this day and age compared to before.

“The wine industry today has changed a great deal in terms of consumption [and] storytelling has become a very key component of appeal,”​ she told us.

“Consumers now want emotional and not just a rational connection, especially when it comes to Gen Z, and it is worth to note that a large percentage of luxury purchases in Asia are made by Gen Z, so that is a market we must appeal to.”

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