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News Briefs for December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

•Robert Parker announced earlier this week that he has agreed to sell a “substantial interest” in The Wine Advocate to a group of three Singapore-based investors, who have yet to be publicly identified. A statement by Parker described his new partners as “three 30-early-40ish, highly qualified business and technology people and enthusiastic wine lovers as well as longtime subscribers.” Reports are circulating that the name of the lead investor is Soo Hoo Khoon Peng, formerly of Singapore-based wine importer Hermitage, along with two other investment bankers from Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. The Wine Advocate will continue to be based in Monkton, Maryland, but the company will establish an office in Singapore to focus on Asian markets. The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown, who already is Singapore-based, will remain there and become The Wine Advocate’s editor-in-chief. As for the idea that he might be retiring, Parker said in the statement that “nothing could be further from the truth. I am still in this profession for the long-term as I remain the CEO and chairman of The Wine Advocate’s board, and an owner.”

•New York-based importer Cape Classics will enter the French wine category early next year, focusing on the Loire Valley. While no specific producers have been named yet, Cape Classics is working with growers in the Loire and says the move will be geared toward increasing visibility of Chenin Blanc in the U.S. The varietal has been thriving in Cape Classics’ South Africa-centric portfolio, as the company says it’s seen a 60% increase since 2010 in Chenin Blanc sales across labels including De Morgenzon, Indaba, Ken Forrester and Raats Family Wines. Cape Classics recently embarked on a nationwide marketing campaign “to create the first focused South African Chenin Blanc program” for consumers. “We’ve made significant progress teaching the market about Chenin, and adding a portfolio from the Loire will only help to expand that message,” said Cape Classics president and COO Robert Bradshaw.

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