by: w. r. tish
Versatility in wine is usually discussed in the context of food—when a wine works well with distinct types of cuisines. But why stop there? René Barbier is making a statement for flexibility that goes further. The brand’s two fresh, modern Mediterranean wines are right at home at the table; pleasing crowds for parties; and serving as a surprisingly fruitful base for cocktails.
It starts with the wine itself—simple, just red and white, made in Catalunya. Both are blends—positioning them naturally in one of the current wine market’s hottest categories—the red comprised of Merlot and Tempranillo, the white combining native Spanish grapes Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada. Even more telling than the grapes, however, is their style: fresh, clean, fruity and smooth.
René Barbier’s easygoing style perfectly fits the wine’s Mediterranean roots, “where wine is not only a part of every meal, it is a part of life,” notes Alie Burnet, Brand Manager-Import Brands at Freixenet USA. Evocative label imagery and an affordable price point add appeal as will.
Bending the Mold
Intent on making the most of their versatile wine, the team behind René Barbier gave the brand a boost in 2016 by extending both Red and White into a 3-liter bag-in-box format. Then a package refresh gave the René Barbier’s signature water color imagery a younger, more modern look while ensuring that Mediterranean Red (or White) appeared front and center.
The unique aspect of the brand’s campaign is positioning René Barbier as a foundation for fun and festive cocktails. Centered around sangria—making for a natural connection to Spain—the six recipes showcased at renebarbierusa.com are enhanced by a “Cocktail Generator” that lets users create batches using the fruits and juices they have on hand. And the campaign has been supported with varied materials (neck hangers, cold-box door clings) as well as print and digital advertising.
Perhaps most important of all, while sangria is typically considered summer fare, the marketing team made sure to develop recipes that stretch across the seasons. Apple Cider Punch fit right into fall; Mulled Wine made a nice choice over the winter. For spring the brand is highlighting Strawberry Lemonade Sangria (see box).
Taken as a whole, the sangria-driven René Barbier campaign is a true departure from the usual wine marketing. But it is hardly unusual for today’s American consumers, who have grown accustomed to drink recipes dispensed perpetually by spirits suppliers. And the focus fits the brand: “Our message is all about fun, DIY ways to enjoy René Barbier with your lifestyle,” explains Burnet. With the economical, eco-friendly 3L box and the seasonal year-round cocktails, consumers are clearly getting the message that René Barbier means business when it comes to making wine fun.