Mercian Corporation (“Mercian”), a leading wine importer and producer in Japan owned by Kirin, has announced the launch of a new wine brand called “Mercian Wines”, as it tries to energize local wine market after slumping wine sales in 2021.
The new Mercian Wines brand was launched as the Japanese wine giant tries to revitalize the country’s wine market after reporting that the total sales volume of their wines decreased by 13% in 2021. This includes the wines made within the country as well as imported wines.
Mercian estimates that the overall wine market (sales volume base) in Japan declined by 10% in 2021 because Covid-19 affected heavily on-premise markets. On the other hand, Mercian estimates that the overall non-alcoholic wine market (sales volume base) in Japan increased by 77% due to a growing health-conscious trend and a sober curious movement whose followers deliberately choose not to take alcoholic drinks.
Also, the company noted the growth of organic wines. The sales volume of organic wines increased by 20% due to the expansion of ethical consumption.
Reviewing a long-term trend, Mercian pointed out that the wine market in Japan had continued to expand since 2008, but its market share against the total alcoholic beverages market is still small, just 6.3%.
Furthermore, the wine market has been gradually shrinking in the last five years. According to Mercian, the main reasons are that wines have become homogenized and have been involved in price war. As a result, they have lost their appeal to the consumers.
In order to revitalize the wine market, Mercian thinks it is important to position wine as an attractive beverage to domestic consumers.
The first launch from the new Mercian Wines brand is a collection of multi-country blends using both wines from Spain and Australia.
The company believes that it is necessary to think outside the box, to provide high-quality and delicious wines which can make everyday life fun, and to resolve the difficulties perceived by consumers regarding imported wines. Therefore, they decided to introduce a new brand using imported wines, named “Mercian Wines”.
The brand name of “Mercian” has an established image of “safe & reliable” to Japanese consumers. Under this brand image, they will introduce new wines which are designed for the palate of Japanese people in cooperation with their partners around the world.
As the first step, on March 1, Mercian released two wines; “Mercian Wines Blends Perfect Blend Red” and ”Mercian Wines Blends Perfect Blend White”. These are considered “breakthrough wines” by the company, because it blends the wines of Spain in the Northern hemisphere and Australian wines in the Southern hemisphere.
The wines are transported to Japan, where they are blended and bottled.
Explaining on the creation of the blended wines, Mercian says, “In order to reach a desired taste, about 200 samples were tasted, blends were trialed for 300 times, and we had a lot of discussion with Mr. Sam Harrop MW”.
The retail price is around US$9 a bottle. These wines are positioned in a “Discover Series,” which presents wines that can offer opportunities to consumers to discover the attractiveness of wines.
This may be a surprising approach especially for wine consumers who are accustomed to the concepts of “terroir” or “ single varietal wine”. My personal impression by tasting is that these wines have a very good balance of fruit flavours, alcohol and acidity both in red and white and go well with various home cuisines in Japan.
Expanding on Mercian Wines’ portfolio, the company will also release “Mercian Wines Bordeaux” on March 8. This constitutes a “Luxury Collection Series” which aims to present a new, groundbreaking appeal of origin, terroir and producers to the experienced wine drinkers.
Different from using traditional Bordeaux varietals, the “Mercian Wines Bordeaux” is a Malbec-dominant blend. The retail price is around US$27 a bottle. This wine was awarded a gold medal in the “MUNDUS VINI” Spring Tasting 2022.
The company expects to hit a sales target of 80,000 cases of Mercian Wines in 2022.