Wine group focuses on long-term growth
Castel targets Hong Kong and the mainland with its wide range of styles, regions and price points while being careful not to disrupt the ecosystem, writes Robin Lynam
Pierre Castel, founding president of one of France's leading regionally diversified groups of wine estates, says Castel has always chosen a path that links the traditional with the modern.
"Every day, we strive to ensure that by setting the best possible standards, we are improving our relevance and long-term sustainability," he says.
The family-owned Castel group was established in 1949 and, over the decades, has built up a portfolio of châteaux and domaines. It now also produces beer and soft drinks.
Wine, however, remains the core of its portfolio, and the wines of Bordeaux in particular. Already well-established in many international markets and in travel retail, Castel is now focusing on China and has participated in a number of major wine events this year, in Hong Kong and on the mainland.
These have included Vinexpo, at which the group presented red, white and rosé wines - among them Château d'Arcins and Château Barreyres (Cru Bourgeois) from Haut-Médoc, Château Ferrande from Graves, and Saint Emilion Grand Cru Château Montlabert.
Castel also participated in November's Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival and in the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, at which it presented its Roche Mazet and Famille Castel brands alongside a range of châteaux and domaines.
On the mainland, Castel wines were one of the star attractions at the China Dalian International Wine and Dine Festival.
Diversity of styles, regions and price points is one of the strengths of Castel's portfolio, but at a time when wine lovers internationally are increasingly conscious of the relationship between wine production and distribution and wider environmental and sustainability issues, another advantage the group enjoys is a credible record of responsibility in this area.
"For Castel, sustainable development is at once an urgent economic necessity, a crucial instrument for social cohesion and a key responsibility that we have towards the land we work," Pierre Castel says.
"This is why we implement and promote innovative initiatives in our vineyards and wineries, many of which set new industry standards."
In practical terms, this has meant a raft of initiatives in areas ranging from glass recycling to finding new non-toxic means of pest control.
In the case of Château de Haut Coulon in Côtes de Bordeaux, it has led to using farm animals for functions previously performed by tractors, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions and limiting soil compaction.
The group is working to encourage the development and implementation of environmental initiatives across all its properties, evaluating new and existing practices at different estates and wineries, and introducing those that have been successful in one or more locations to others within the group.
"Our commitment to minimising the negative environmental and social impact of our activities is not just a passing fad. It is a logical extension of the quality commitments we first drew up in the 1990s, now consolidated by our new environmental management system. At its core lies a clear economic logic: the Castel Group's success will be wholly dependent on achieving a close synergy with our ecosystem," Pierre Castel says.