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News Briefs for February 16, 2012

February 16, 2012

Champagne shipments to the U.S. enjoyed double-digit growth in 2011, according to the French Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters (FEVS). The FEVS said Champagne exports to the U.S. market rose 12.2% by volume and 18.6% by value last year. In 2010, Champagne shipments jumped 35% by volume to 1.41 million cases, according to France’s Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) and Impact Databank.

U.S. wine exports hit a record $1.39 billion in 2011 on an increase of 21.7%, according to the Wine Institute. Volume shipments rose 5.8% to 455.7 million liters, or 50.6 million nine-liter cases. Some 34% of U.S. wine exports by value were shipped to the 27 member countries of the European Union, accounting for $478 million in revenue, up 10% from 2010. Volume shipments to the E.U. reached 28 million cases in 2011, edging up 1.4% from the previous year. Other top markets included Canada (up 23% to $379 million), Hong Kong (up 39% to $163 million), Japan (up 39% to $105 million) and China (up 42% to $62 million).

P.F. Chang’s has agreed to acquire a majority equity ownership position in Fox Restaurant Concepts’ True Food Kitchen, a California-based eatery that focuses on healthy, locally sourced meals. Under the agreement, P.F. Chang’s will now own 51% of True Food Kitchen, with the ability to increase its ownership to 90% or more in the future. In 2009, P.F. Chang’s helped fund the early establishment of True Food Kitchen in a loan agreement that gave P.F. Chang’s the right to convert the loan into a majority equity ownership position. True Food Kitchen, which debuted in 2010, currently has two locations in California and two in Arizona, with plans to open two additional units in yet-to-be-determined locations this year.

Treasury Wine Estates has inked a partnership for its Beringer wine brand with golf star Justin Leonard. Starting this spring, Leonard will appear in advertising and point of sale materials throughout North America as well as engage in social media on behalf of the brand. The partnership is meant to complement Beringer’s designation as the Official Wine of the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour in both the U.S. and Canada through 2014. Beringer is the first wine brand to become an official marketing partner of the PGA tour and will put its support behind 20 tournaments this season.

•Marc Forgione, celebrity chef and owner of New York City’s Restaurant Marc Forgione, has launched a private wine label bearing his name. The two wines available under the Marc Forgione label are both French: a 2010 Felines-Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc and a 2009 Alain Gueneau Sancerre Rouge from Loire Valley. Both wines will be available at Forgione’s forthcoming restaurant American Cut, which will debut at the Revel Atlantic City casino this spring.

•Renowned Washington, D.C. chef and restaurateur Michel Richard is opening three restaurants in the Revel Atlantic City casino, joining chefs Marc Forgione, Jose Garces, Alain Allegretti and Robert Wiedmaier, who each will debut at least one restaurant when the Revel opens its doors this spring. One of Richard’s planned restaurants is an outpost of his D.C. restaurant Central, which is popular for its reinvention of classic American dishes, while the other two are new concepts called O Bistro and Wine Bar, which will serve small plates, wine and cocktails, and The Breakfast Room, which will be open only in the morning and serve eat-in and take-away breakfast meals. Revel will open for an eight-week preview on April 2, with an official public opening date set for May 25.

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