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Ravage drinkers “know that Cabernet is a sign of good quality and arguably a more masculine varietal,” says Erin Smith, the marketing director for Constellation’s Wine & Spirits Innovation. “But as people are developing their wine palates, sometimes it’s hard to go into something that’s overly structured and tannic, like a high-end, drier style of Cabernet. Not to mention that as a younger consumer, you might not have the deep pockets to go into that.”
Ravage’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Dark Red Blend—suggested retail price is $12.99 ($10.99 on the floor). The California-produced wines create a bridge for drinkers who want to work their way up to Napa Valley or Bordeaux.
With labels that depict medieval jousters, the designers geared the packaging to appeal to men with a sense of adventure and, probably, a fixation with Game of Thrones. “Ravage,” says Smith, “is purposely masculine—over the top, [with] big brawny man stuff on the label.”
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Smith describes the wines as having a “rich, audacious kind of jammy profile” that makes them an excellent complement for grilled meats. In fact, the brand has a national partnership with Weber grills to co-promote the wines with all things skewered and barbecued.
Ravage has its own sweet spot in a category of red wines usually oriented toward female drinkers, relying on big fruit, rich flavors, and smooth tannins to convey the brand’s edginess. Both wines in the line are aged in 100 percent new French oak, giving them the structure needed to stand up to robust plates, from the grill to the smoker.
Launched in March 2016, the signature wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon–driven (76 percent) blend that includes 10 percent each of Merlot and Zinfandel, with Syrah and other reds making up the remainder. The wine has all the flavor markers of a quality Cab—dark berry fruit, vanilla, and mocha—and is immediately approachable.
The Dark Red Blend, launched six months later, is a complex blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (44 percent), Petite Sirah (24 percent), Syrah (16 percent), Merlot (11 percent), and Zinfandel (3 percent), with 2 percent aromatic red varieties.
Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon is the No. 20 super-premium Cabernet (Total US MULO Current IRI 52 weeks ending 9/9/18), thanks to accolades—the wines have been routinely scoring into the 90s, and the 2015 vintage Cab was a Gold Medal winner in the New York International Wine Competition both this year and last—and a well-funded digital media campaign. And it doesn’t hurt to have a winemaker-slash-Spartan competitor as the face of the brand. Native Californian Bryce Willingham received her enology degree in 2012, then honed her skills at Gallo and Turner Road Vintners before building Ravage into a force, like herself, to be reckoned with.
Smith concludes, “In its third year, Ravage is within the top 20 premium Cabernets in a category of established heavy hitters.” The brand sold 146,000 cases nationally last year, according to Constellation Brands internal data.
The visionary drinks company Constellation Brands has been committed to continuous innovation for the past 70 years to maintain its leadership position within the beverage category. And these days, it’s proving that with experience comes wisdom.