Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013

•Acker Merrall & Condit netted $6.78 million at its first Hong Kong auction of the year. Held on January 25-26, the two-day sale was 96% sold and shattered 115 world records, many of which were set by direct offerings from Burgundy’s Domaine Dujac and Domaine Roulot. Highlights included six magnums of 1985 Clos de la Roche (sold for $44,154) and a Jeroboam of 1978 Clos de la Roche ($22,708), both from the Dujac portfolio, as well as a Methuselah of Roulot’s 2011 Meursault Clos des Boucheres ($10,092). Also featured were two private collections, whose top lots included six assorted magnums of 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti ($69,385) and a 12-bottle case of 1982 Petrus ($63,077), among others. Acker Merrall will hold its next auction in New York on February 23, followed by another Hong Kong event on March 22-23.

•Tennessee legislators are mounting a push to change the tax system for beer at the wholesale level. Tennessee state representative Cameron Sexton and state senator Brian Kelsey are leading the effort, which would tie beer wholesaler taxes to volume rather than price. Kelsey and Sexton say calculating beer taxes on the basis of price has had the effect of punishing brewers and wholesalers when fuel, labor and materials cost rise, necessitating price increases. “Tennessee beer sales have gone down 5% in the past decade, but revenues from the wholesale tax have gone up over 30%,” Kelsey says, noting that even if the measure passes, Tennessee would still have the nation’s highest effective beer tax rate (currently $37 a barrel, compared with Kentucky’s $24 and Virginia’s $9).

•Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is set to open its first Florida location in Tampa next month. The new 11,229-square-foot venue, located in the city’s Westshore business district, will be the chain’s 12th location nationwide. Established in Illinois in 2005, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is an upscale casual dining concept, featuring a full bar, private barrel-aging and tasting room and a menu designed to pair with the chain’s private label wines. In addition to future openings in St. Louis and Cincinnati, Cooper’s Hawk is continuing its Florida expansion with an Orlando site slated to open this winter.

•Online reservation company OpenTable has announced its acquisition of Foodspotting, a social media start-up, for $10 million. Foodspotting is a website and mobile app featuring roughly 3 million photos of dishes from restaurants around the world that have been taken and uploaded by restaurant customers. OpenTable’s acquisition of the company will now mean that when users book tables at restaurants through OpenTable, they’ll receive confirmation emails that include the restaurant’s full menu along with Foodspotting’s photos of dishes that former customers have recommended. Foodspotting, whose users upload a few hundred thousand photos each month, will continue to exist as its own website and app.


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