Posted on | May 26, 2015
Written by | W.R. Tish
With a touch of color and flavor, Blanc de Bleu turns heads, inspires toasts and pleases palates.
There is nothing new under the sun, goes the saying. Really? Perhaps that old saying needs updating when it comes to Blanc de Bleu, a California bubbly whose color could pass for the sky on a clear summer day.
The breakthrough nature of this wine—created by Koh Ohsedo and marketed by Bronco Wine Company—only begins with the vivid gemstone hue. Blanc de Bleu also features a “kiss” of added all-natural blueberry extract; a unique package; and built-in appeal for celebrations, weddings in particular.
In & On the Bottle
On first glance, it would be easy to see why people expect Blanc de Bleu to be sweet. Au contraire, it is technically dry. “The base wine or cuvee for Blanc de Bleu is 100% Chardonnay, from Bronco-owned vineyards in California which gives me a consistent and high quality source of fruit,” Winemaker Bob Stashak explains. “This is the same Chardonnay I use in our high-end, méthode champenoise programs. We accentuate the Chardonnay, the natural fermentation, and add just enough natural blueberry flavor to make a subtle impact. The character is exactly that, with a nice green apple flavor contributed from the Chardonnay, a bit of yeastiness from the secondary fermentation, and a light waft of blueberry.” Thanks to the Brut-level dosage, he adds, “People are more than pleasantly surprised to find the wine dry and crisp, instead of being another overly-sweet, flavored wine.”
As for the wine’s look, Koh Ohsedo notes that he set out to create “something different.” He chose sparkling wine because the category is on the rebound; and he believed the warm but bright blue tint would instantly appeal to people celebrating—whether holidays, birthdays, special events or weddings.
He also went to great lengths to optimize the packaging. He traveled to France to find a perfectly clear “virgin” bottle via a perfume industry supplier (recycled glass actually has a yellow tint, which would make Blanc de Bleu appear greenish). He also imbued the bottle with some patriotic elements: the label is shaped like the iconic Route 66 highway signs, and the foil capsule features stylized stars—exactly 50 of the largest type, naturally—and stripes. There is also a single embossed heart “hidden” on the capsule.
Expansive Target Market
With the liquid and package in place, Bronco found themselves in the unique position of launching a completely novel product. Who is Blanc de Bleu for? Bronco makes another flavored bubbly, Allure (mango, peach), but Allure is sweet and appeals to a younger LDA drinker, explains Bronco marketing consultant John Whelehan. Blanc de Bleu is Chardonnay-driven, he emphasiszes, adding, “Its pleasant fruitiness and light finish makes Blanc de Bleu a desired sparkling wine for people of all ages.”
Not surprisingly—but certainly not accidentally—the bubbly’s blue hue has made it a hit in the bridal community. Color experts associate Blanc de Bleu’s particular shade of blue with positive sentiments such as loyalty and faith, which translates to how a bride and groom feel on their wedding day, notes Whelehan.
Has Bronco Wine Company been surprised by response from trade and/or consumers? Hardly. “We’re not surprised by how well it’s been received by either side,” says Joseph JD “Joey” Franzia, who heads national sales and marketing at Bronco. “With the trade, response has been favorable at all levels, including smaller independent retailers, some bigger club stores and supermarket chains. Distribution is ongoing everywhere. Consumers have also responded favorably after tasting Blanc de Bleu at different events from around the country.”
With the wine’s potent combination of immediate visual appeal, crowd-pleasing flavors and feel-good image, the sky may be the only limit for Blanc de Bleu.