The newly appointed chairman of the Aude co-operative group, Jean-Marie Cassignol, will be tasked with steering the company’s future strategy. The aim is not only to ramp up its CSR commitments, but also to promote its premium rosés, digitalisation and innovation in the vineyard and in packaging.
52-year-old wine and fruit grower Jean-Marie Cassignol took over from Michel Servage as chairman of Vignobles Foncalieu in Arzens, Aude, following the group’s board meeting on December 17, 2020. Based in Aigues-Vives, the Aude native is a dyed-in-the-wool co-operative winegrower. As an administrator and board member, he rose through the ranks of the co-operative group before taking over at its helm. The new chairman has already nailed his colours to the mast: he intends to make Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a core element of the firm’s development strategy. “Following an Elan audit conducted by Coop de France, we were awarded the outstanding score of 13.2 out of 20 which equates to 66% maturity for our practices. Our long-term strategy revolves around a sustainable approach that can generate economic, social and environmental value for all of our stakeholders. That is the quintessential purpose of the co-operative system.”
This commitment has already translated to organic certification for 165 hectares of vines with a further 180 hectares in the switch-over phase. Additionally, one quarter of acreage is farmed under the HVE3 scheme. Members are given technical support, training sessions and performance-related payments as an incentive to join these schemes. From a social and society perspective, one of the group’s aims is to increase ethical purchases, with local supplies squarely in its sights. Climate change has also prompted it to review its vineyard management techniques and introduce new varieties such as Artaban, Vidoc and Floreal to prepare for tomorrow’s growing conditions.
From the vineyard through to the bottle… With the rosé market booming, Vignobles Foncalieu intends to stay ahead in the market. Thirty percent of its production is already dedicated to the colour with a range spanning 14 varietals and 2021 sees the launch of a new limited edition rosé label designed by a renowned artist. Its avowed ambition is to become the category’s go-to purveyor of quality rosés. To enhance its shelf stand-out, the group was an early-adopter of innovative packaging formats, fostering alternative, lighter, recyclable and sustainable packaging. It will continue to build upon this momentum by introducing several new products including a 50cl range and cubic bag-in-boxes for the hospitality industry and wine merchants.
Another of its priorities is to continue to connect with consumers. Last year, the Comptoir de la Cité in Carcassonne, which serves as a showcase for its wines and local products and a pillar for its wine tourism activities through its workshops and seminars, opened a wine bar in this ideal location. Once again, Foncalieu will strengthen its local ties by partnering with the Hôtel de la Cité for the July 14 celebrations and sponsoring both the Carcassonne rugby union team and the mediaeval town’s festival. Similarly, Vignobles Foncalieu has launched its e-store www.comptoirdelacite.com. Along with its planned new website, the group is confirming its shift in direction with its digital distribution focus.