Gato Negro—Spanish for “black cat”—was born as a wine brand in Chile in 1960. It’s probably the oldest wine label with a critter or animal on it, appearing some four decades earlier than the immensely popular kangaroo label of Yellow Tail.
The origin story has it that for more than half a century, a black cat enchanted the wine makers of Viña San Pedro, convincing them that his presence inspired high quality wines—and so the label was created.
Viña San Pedro, founded in Curicó Valley in 1865 by the Correa Albano brothers, is one of the most important wineries in Chile and one of the country’s most significant exporters. It has a huge presence in over 80 countries across five continents, and Gato Negro has been its bestselling wine brand since its inception.
Gato Negro was one of the first commercially successful Chilean wine brands to be launched in the Philippines back in the late 1980s/early 1990s. For a long time, Gato Negro was actually the best selling Chilean wine brand in the country. Back then, the most saleable wines were mostly generic wines like those from California, simply called red or white, and wines with grape varietal names such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay were in the minority and far more expensive too.
Gato Negro was one of the first wine brands to sell with grape varietals on its label at a very reasonable price — below P200/bottle (a fantastic price then). It was not a surprise therefore that Gato Negro was a huge hit. Gato Negro established itself as an incredible value for money quality wine, and it also had the packaging and label that appealed to a big segment of our small but growing wine drinking populace.
But in the past decade or so, Gato Negro has lost most of its market share in the Philippines to other more aggressive Chilean wine brands, and it was only in middle of 2017 that its mother company, The VSPT Wine Group (or Viña San Pedro Tarapaca S.A.), decided to make some major changes. One of the very first moves was for VSPT to sever ties with their long time wine importer in the Philippines and transfer these to a different importer-distributor, hoping that this change would reignite the brand in the country. Expect therefore to see more of the black cat wines in the weeks ahead and more brand visibility this holiday season.
THE LAUNCH OF A RESERVE RANGE
After over 55 years of commercial success, the Gato Negro brand finally released its first ever brand extension — Gato Negro 9 Lives Reserve range — two year ago. Only two varietals were released initially: the all-time favorite Cabernet Sauvignon for the Reserve Red, and Sauvignon Blanc for the Reserve White. Nine Lives will be the premium line of the Gato Negro portfolio, and the brand will also over-deliver on its quality based on its pricing. This 9 Lives Reserve range uses lower yield juices of the best vineyards of Viña San Pedro, is aged in new oaks, and is produced in much less quantities than its regular Gato Negro wines. The wines are also more complex and age-able.
Already, the Gato Negro 9 Lives Reserve wines have gotten medals and accolades from very distinguished international competitions, including Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, Sélections Mondiales des Vins, and the International Wine Challenge.
The Philippines is the second country in Asia after Japan to be launching the Gato Negro 9 Lives wines. The suggested retail price of these wines is P410/bottle, while the SRP of popular regular Gato Negro varietals is P300/bottle — both very reasonably priced.
With a new importer in tow, and the launch of a reserve range in 9 Lives, Gato Negro looks to regain its lost ground and return the black cat back to its familiar alley atop the local Chilean wine market. Gato Negro and 9 Lives Reserve wines are exclusively available from Golden Wines, Inc., and they can be reached at 638-5025/27 or through e-mail at email@example.com.