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News Briefs for March 18, 2015

March 18, 2015

•A Napa Valley vineyard became a crime scene on Monday, as a business meeting ended with two men dead in an apparent murder-suicide over a loan gone bad. Vintner Robert Dahl allegedly shot his former business investor, Emad Tawfilis, in the head and then fled his Yountville winery with Napa sheriff’s deputies in pursuit. The chase began just before noon and continued for 10 miles, north on busy Highway 29 and then west up Oakville Grade to a remote country road where, according to sources, Dahl apparently killed himself. Wine Spectator has the full story.

•Sonoma County Vintners will hold its inaugural Sonoma County Barrel Auction on May 1 at Russian River Valley’s Vintner Inn. Lots will range in size from five to 20 cases and include rare single-vineyard bottlings, specific clonal selections, blends, wines aged in special barrel regimes and collaborative efforts from Sonoma vintners. Among the lots will be a Pinot Noir crafted jointly by Joseph Swan Vineyards, Kosta Browne Winery and Williams Selyem Winery; special Pinot Noir offerings from Gary Farrell Winery and Paul Hobbs Winery; a Jim’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Pride Mountain Vineyards; and a Home Ranch Heritage Old Vine Zinfandel from Seghesio Family Vintners.

•Sazerac Co.’s Buffalo Trace Distillery has unveiled the latest entry in its Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. collection, a 100-proof Bourbon aged in cured oak barrels. While most oak barrel staves are placed outside for six months before being made into barrels, Buffalo Trace’s Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Cured Oak Bourbon is aged using barrel staves left outside to dry for 13 months. The small-batch, bottled-in-bond offering is available in limited quantities starting this month, priced at around $69.99 a 750-ml. Cured Oak Bourbon marks the seventh entry in the distillery’s Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. series, which first launched in 2011 to commemorate former Buffalo Trace owner Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr.

•A new upscale Prosecco brand, Enrica Rocca, is debuting in the U.S. market next month. Named for Venetian cooking school founder and author Contessa Enrica Rocca, the line is being introduced in the U.S. following its launch in Europe. Enrica Rocca Prosecco is made in the traditional method, Glera grapes grown at a small vineyard in the Veneto. The brand includes Classic Brut and Extra Dry DOCG variants, both positioned at around $22 a bottle.

•Heineken USA’s Strongbow cider brand is adding two new flavored variants and extending its “Cider At Its Bestest” campaign with two fresh TV ads. Starring actor Sir Patrick Stewart, the push includes two 15-second spots, with the first set to begin airing nationwide this week and the second to debut later this year. The ads, which focus on serving Strongbow over ice, will also be supported by traditional and paid media, digital, PR and experiential marketing components. Meanwhile, the brand is introducing Strongbow Red Berries and Ginger. The pair make their debut as part of a new 12-bottle variety pack, which also features Strongbow’s existing Gold Apple and Honey entries and will be available year-round nationwide. Strongbow grew 6.5% to 990,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Denver and Napa-based wine importer Curious Cork says it extended its distribution footprint from just one state to 15 over the course of 2014. With an expanded sales force—including several new regional sales heads—the company plans to enter another five states this year. Led by industry veteran and CEO Peter Baedeker, the company’s portfolio includes Italian labels Tuscan Sun, Siciliana, Carlin de Paolo, Paolo e Noemia d’Amico, Baracchi and Fattoria della Talosa, as well as French sparkler Faire la Féte and Spain’s Bodegas Care.

•La Martiniquaise has an updated package for its Porto Cruz brand. Rolling out worldwide, the redesign is intended to contemporize the brand and improve visibility. The new pack will run across the full portfolio, including the Tawny, White, Ruby, Special Reserve and Pink expressions. Porto Cruz has annual volume of around 7.5 million liters across more than 50 countries, according to La Martiniquaise.

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