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News Briefs for January 10, 2013

January 10, 2013

•Moët Hennessy’s $5.5 million winery in Ningxia, China is on track for completion this year, with the first wines expected to hit the market in 2014. The 6,300-square-foot facility in northern China—which will include a fully functional winery, fermentation cellars, tasting rooms and a visitors center—will produce sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir under Moët Hennessy’s globally-sourced Chandon brand. The Ningxia site is one of two Chinese wineries Moët Hennessy has in development. The other, situated on 74 acres at the foot of the Himalayan mountains, is a partnership with China’s VATS Group that will focus on super-premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Demand for domestic wines is expected to rise rapidly across China’s burgeoning wine market in the coming years. Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) also sees potential in the segment, evidenced by its own winery project in the works in Penglai, Shandong Province.

•Devotion vodka has expanded its distribution footprint with the addition of listings in Publix and Albertsons supermarkets in three states. The sugar-free, gluten-free vodka brand (80-proof, $19.99 a 750-ml.) is now available at more than 80 Publix locations across Florida and more than 200 Albertsons locations in Nevada and California. The flavors made available in the stores include Blood Orange, Black & Blue (blackberry and blueberry flavored) and The Perfect Cosmo. Devotion’s distribution territory currently covers Florida, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Arizona, Hawaii and Connecticut.

•New York-based importer Biagio Cru and Estate Wines has launched a new sparkling wine, Égalité, in the U.S. Rolling out nationwide this month, Égalité is a Crémant from France’s Burgundy region, retailing at $23.99 a 750-ml. The brand, named after the French word for “equality,” was created by Biagio in support of same-sex marriage and developed with input from gay community members. A portion of the wine’s proceeds will be donated to LGBT youth organizations. In addition to Égalité, Biagio’s portfolio also includes the Restivo and Biagio brands, as well as Lolailo Sangria.

•The owners of New York City gastropubs The Spotted Pig, The Breslin and The John Dory Oyster Bar have signed a 10-year lease to take over the 92-year-old Tosca Café in San Francisco to save the local favorite from being shuttered due to debt. The team, which includes Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield, plans to serve an Italian-influenced small-plates menu. Although they will do some remodeling, they hope to preserve the bar’s character as much as possible. Tosca Café will close shortly for renovations and is slated to reopen by summer.

•Guestmetrics LLC, a research firm that analyzes the point-of-sale data of tens of thousands of chain and independent U.S. restaurants, has found that cocktail sales grew by 1.9% in 2012, driven primarily by flavored drinks, which accounted for roughly 26% of all cocktail sales. Flavored versions of classic cocktails like the Margarita and the Mojito accounted for 51% of incremental growth in the category last year, with a growth rate of 3.9%. The fastest growing flavors included mango, at 35% growth, and tea, at 30% growth, followed by ginger and melon, which each grew by 15%, and cucumber, at 10%.

•Correction: In yesterday’s news story about Bols liqueurs departing the William Grant & Sons USA portfolio to join Lucas Bols USA, we incorrectly stated that Bols liqueurs’ 2011 U.S. volume was 350,000 cases. The correct number is 415,000 cases. The brand sold 425,000 cases in 2009 and 420,000 cases in 2010.


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