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News Briefs for July 3, 2014

July 3, 2014

•Six restaurants have newly earned Wine Spectator’s Grand Award in 2014, the highest honor for a restaurant wine list. Clos Maggiore in London; La Toque in Napa, Calif.; Nice Matin in New York; Saison in San Francisco; the Stonehouse in Santa Barbara, California; and Studio in Laguna Beach, California, join 68 other restaurants that have successfully maintained their Grand Award status as the world’s top wine destinations for diners. The complete list of Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards winners is featured in the August 31 issue of the magazine (available on newsstands July 22), which also includes detailed analysis of wine list trends and full profiles of the new Grand Award winners.

•Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine has unveiled a new trio of 80-proof flavored moonshines. Rolling out this month, the Ole Smoky Lightnin’ Line will launch with higher-proof versions of Ole Smoky’s original 40-proof Strawberry, Lemon Drop and Hunch Punch moonshines—Strawberry Lightnin’, Lemon Drop Lightnin’ and Hunch Punch Lightnin’. All three will be available across 49 states and Canada, priced at around $24.95 a 750-ml. Along with the new Lightnin’ Line, Ole Smoky’s Tennessee Moonshine portfolio includes its unflavored 100-proof Original and 100-proof White Lightnin’ labels, as well as 10 40-proof flavored varieties. Ole Smoky’s volume surged to 240,000 cases in 2013, from 90,000 cases a year earlier, according to Impact Databank.

•While cider remains one of the fastest-growing categories across the U.S. drinks market—climbing by double-digits to 16 million (2.25-gallon) cases in 2013, according to Impact Databank—one of the segment’s key players, Vermont Hard Cider, is feeling the heat from an influx of new competitors, including Boston Beer’s Angry Orchard and recent launches like MillerCoors’ Smith & Forge and AB InBev’s Johnny Appleseed. Acquired by Ireland’s C&C Group last year for $305 million, Vermont Hard Cider was integrated into C&C’s U.S. business over the past year, and saw growth slow markedly in the 12 months through February—due not only to heightened competition, but also to its integration within C&C and a wholesaler realignment—with shipments on its core Woodchuck brand down 1%. C&C says its U.S. performance continued to be weak in the three months through June, but adds that it began a new marketing campaign and introduced new packaging for Woodchuck on June 1, and expects to open a new $34 million cidery in Vermont in August. Woodchuck added more than 1 million (2.25-gallon) cases from 2010-2012, before slowing last year and finishing 2013 at 2.8 million cases.

•St. Helena, California-based Wilson Daniels has added Italian wine producer Elvio Cogno to its U.S. import stable. Located in Piedmont’s Barolo district, Elvio Cogno produces around 7,000 cases of 10 estate wines, including four DOCG Barolos ($55-$115), two DOC Barbera d’Albas ($34-$66), a DOCG Barbaresco Bordini ($52), a DOC Langhe Nebbiolo Montegrilli ($35), a DOC Langhe Nascetta di Novello Anas-Cetta ($30) and a DOC Dolcetto d’Alba ($22). The range is made using organically-grown grapes. Elvio Cogno marks the eighth Italian winery in Wilson Daniels’ portfolio, joining Tuscany’s Castello di Volpaia and Tenuta Campo di Sasso and Veneto’s Buglioni, among others.

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