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News Briefs for November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012

•Rémy Cointreau has named François Hériard Dubreuil as its new chairman, replacing his sister Dominique Hériard Dubreuil, who will step down at the end of the year. François was previously chairman of the Rémy Martin Group from 1984-1990, CEO of Rémy Cointreau from 1990-2000 and chairman of the supervisory board of Rémy Cointreau from 2000-2004. He’s currently chairman of the management board of Andromède (the Hériard Dubreuil family holding company) and CEO of several subsidiaries, including Orpar, Rémy Cointreau’s holding company. He has also been vice chairman of Dynasty Wines (Tianjin) since 1980.

•Total Wine & More has confirmed that it will open its first Connecticut store in Norwalk in December, as first reported by Shanken News Daily on October 2. The 30,000-square-foot store is located at 380 Main Avenue—just two miles from a Stew Leonard’s Wines shop. It replaces an existing Wine Nation store, which had opened this spring and closed at the end of September. Wine Nation is owned by Tom Trone, brother of Total Wine owners David and Robert Trone. Total Wine currently operates over 85 stores across 13 states.

•Dallas-based Centennial Fine Wine & Spirits may soon be closing more stores, according to local reports, as financial difficulties and increased competition are buffeting the 45-store chain. After closing seven stores earlier this year, Centennial—which operates one of North Texas’s largest networks of liquor stores under its namesake brand as well as the Big Daddy’s, Apple Jack and Majestic chains—is considering a new round of closings, says the Dallas Morning News. Several Centennial stores haven’t paid state taxes of late and, as such, have been placed on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s “no sales or deliveries” list. Meanwhile, new entrants to the Dallas market, including Spec’s, Total Wine & More and Trader Joe’s, have intensified competition. Centennial hadn’t yet responded to requests for comment at press time.

•Barton & Guestier (B&G) has unveiled new packaging across its 19-appellation premium wine portfolio. The packaging features strong B&G branding, including the group’s signature gold cap and “B&G Passeport” stamp. On the back label, QR codes now link to additional product information, the B&G website and the company’s Facebook page. B&G, which is part of the Castel Group, sells AOC and varietal wines from Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rhône Valley, Languedoc, Provence and Gascony to 130 different countries. B&G was handled by Diageo Chateau & Estate in the U.S. until 2010, when Castel opened its own Barton & Guestier USA unit. The brand has slipped from 765,000 cases in the U.S. in 2001 to fewer than 150,000 cases.

•International Beverage’s Old Pulteney single malt Scotch has released Old Pulteney 40-year-old, the brand’s oldest single malt bottling. The limited edition entry is packaged in a hand-blown bottle, which has been hand-filled by Old Pulteney distillery manager Malcolm Waring and distillery visitor center manager Tanya Fraser. The bottle is then placed in a glass-lacquered wooden gift box, alongside an autographed book by whisky expert Charlie MacLean. A limited quantity of Old Pulteney 40-year-old bottles will be available in the U.S., priced at $2,400 each.

•Acker Merrall & Condit reported sales of $4.1 million at its latest New York City sale, held November 14 at Manhattan’s Ciano restaurant. More than 98% sold, the auction was dominated by Burgundy estate Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which accounted for 16 of the event’s top 25 lots. The highest selling lot comprised three magnums of 2002 Romanée-Conti sold for $61,500, while the second-highest was a 3-liter jeroboam of the same wine, sold for $43,050. Other highlights included a 12-bottle case of 1982 Lafite ($36,900), a jeroboam of 2003 Romanée-Conti ($36,900) and three magnums of 1998 Petrus ($19,680). Acker Merrall’s next auction—predicted to potentially be its largest of 2012—will take place in Hong Kong, from December 6-8.

•Napa-based importer Quintessential is adding two Australian producers, Frankland Estate and Kay Brothers, to its portfolio. Initially, Quintessential will import the following Frankland Estate labels: the winery’s flagship red Bordeaux blend, Olmo’s Reward; SmithCullam and Isolation Ridge Shirazes; Isolation Ridge Chardonnay, and four Rieslings in the SmithCullam, Isolation Ridge, Poison Hill and Netley Road labels—all falling in the $40 to $70 price range. Quintessential also will import Frankland Estate’s Rocky Gully line of premium Rieslings and a Shiraz/Viognier blend, retailing for $25. Kay Brothers wines include Block 6 Shiraz (with grapes from the original vines planted in 1892), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Mataro (Mourvedre) and Muscat Blanc. The portfolio also includes the Hillside Shiraz and Basket Pressed Shiraz labels. Quintessential will import all of the above, which retail between $25 and $120 a bottle.

•Darden Restaurants’ chief marketing officer, J.J. Buettgen, has resigned to become president and CEO of Ruby Tuesday, Inc., effective December 1, following the retirement of Ruby Tuesday founder Sandy Beall as chairman, president and CEO, which Shanken News Daily reported on June 7. Buettgen has been with Darden since 2004. Prior to his most recent role as CMO, he served as senior vice president of business development and president of Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill. With more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant and consumer industries, Buettgen has also held positions at Brinker International and Disneyland Resorts. Darden Restaurants’ marketing team will now report to president and COO Drew Madsen until a new CMO is appointed.

•Bravo Brio Restaurant Group will open its 54th Brio location in late November at the Arboretum mall in Austin, Texas. That follows the opening of a Brio unit in Wayne, New Jersey last month. Brio, as well as 52-unit sister concept Bravo Cucina Italiana, are upscale casual Italian restaurants, with the former slightly more high end and specializing in northern Italian cuisine. With the openings, Columbus, Ohio-based Bravo Brio Restaurant Group—whose sales revenue was $369 million last year—will be operating just over 100 units in 30 states. Beverage accounts for 21% of sales, with wine representing about half of that. Company executives aim to add 50 new locations within the next five years.

 

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