Distell’s launch of a stand-alone premium wine company under the Libertas Vineyards & Estates banner requires some sober assessment. Excitable punters might read too much into the development — especially with the Remgro-controlled liquor giant targeting volume brands in the premium cider and burgeoning ready-to-drink (RTD) segments, as well as the affordable wine and spirits category. Libertas will house premium wine brands like Alto, Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, Plaisir de Merle, Pongrácz, Fleur du Cap and Allesverloren as well as heritage assets like Chateau Libertas, Zonnebloem and the Tabernacle wine library. As a stand-alone hub, these brands collectively probably boast sales topping R1bn, compared with Distell’s total annual revenues of more than R24bn. Most of the brands have their roots in the old Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery, and were created by the collective marketing genius that the late Rembrandt group founder, Anton Rupert, cultivated around brands in the liquor and ...

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