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News Briefs for November 9, 2012

November 9, 2012

•Superstorm Sandy dealt a severe blow to Fedway Associates, one of New Jersey’s biggest spirits and wine distributors, causing considerable damage to the company’s Kearny-based warehouse (located about 10 miles west of Manhattan). “Our office building and warehouse buildings were hit with 10-foot tidal surges and, as a result, our infrastructure and inventories were severely compromised,” said Fedway president Neil Barnett on the company’s Facebook page. Still, Fedway is gearing up to resume its operations in the area later this month. “We have contracted a 190,000-square-foot warehouse 200 yards from our main building and have already begun receiving replacement inventory,” said Barnett. “We intend to begin shipping the week of November 19th and hope to be in full operation the first week in December.”

•The U.S. Justice Department has filed a memorandum rejecting the claim by accused wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan that FBI agents illegally searched his house after arresting him, reports Wine Spectator. Kurniawan’s attorneys are trying to exclude evidence found during a search of the suburban Los Angeles home he shared with his mother. Although the government did not obtain a search warrant until later that day, its lawyers claim that the agents did not violate the Fourth Amendment in their initial search. In the memorandum, filed November 6, Justice Department lawyers defended the warrantless search of the premises for three reasons: a “protective sweep” of the entire house was required; the premises had to be secured pending the agents’ return with a search warrant; and evidence had to be protected against potential destruction. Kurniawan’s defense lawyers are scheduled to answer the government on November 12.

•Plans to sell off the wine cellar of Charlie Trotter’s restaurant took a detour this week with the revelation that an entire pallet—amounting to 60 cases of wine—was apparently stolen en route from Trotter’s in Chicago to the auction house Christie’s in New York. Christie’s officials declined comment on the matter, explaining that an investigation was ongoing. Christie’s is proceeding with the scheduled sale of the rest of the Trotter collection, which amounted to 4,000 bottles originally. There will be a live auction November 16 at Christie’s supplemented by an online-only sale that will invite bids between November 20 and December 4. The estimated value of the entire collection is about $1 million. It’s not clear exactly which bottles are missing, but the collection amassed by the chef Charlie Trotter, who closed his eponymous restaurant in August, is reputed to be one of the best in the Midwest.

•In a surprising development, Sylvie Cazes has announced her departure as general manager of the Bordeaux estates owned by Champagne group Louis Roederer, including the iconic second-growth Château Pichon Longueville Lalande and châteaus de Pez and Bernadotte. “I’m going to concentrate on projects with my immediate family and my political projects,” Cazes told Wine Spectator. Cazes, a high-profile figure in Bordeaux, said that she will remain at the estate until the end of 2012, terminating a tenure that began in February 2011. The name of her replacement has not been announced.

•Napa, California-based importer Quintessential is launching a new red blend from Argentine wine brand New Age into the U.S. Made with Bonarda and Malbec grapes, New Age Red is priced at $11.99 a 750-ml., in line with New Age’s existing White and Rose expressions. Produced by family-owned winery Bodega Valentin Bianchi, New Age was introduced into the U.S. in 2006, where its White expression is marketed as a “cocktail” wine intended to be served on the rocks with lime juice. The brand, which earned Impact “Hot Prospect” honors in 2011, had sales of more than 124,000 cases last year.


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