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News Briefs for July 15, 2011

July 15, 2011

•Chilean wine group Concha y Toro has partnered with its exclusive U.S. importer, Banfi Vintners, to form the Excelsior Wine Company, a U.S. distribution unit jointly managed by both companies. Under the new deal, Excelsior will distribute Concha y Toro’s Chilean range as well as the wines under its Argentine subsidiary, Trivento. Excelsior’s portfolio also will include the California wine brands Little Black Dress and Five Rivers, acquired by Concha y Toro in April in its $238-million purchase of Fetzer Vineyards from Brown-Forman. Concha’s remaining Fetzer brands—which include Fetzer, Bonterra, Jekel, Sanctuary and Bel Arbor—will remain under the sales and marketing umbrella of The Fetzer Vineyards Company. Banfi has served as Concha y Toro’s importer since 1988.

•Tuscany’s Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi has upped its stake in Friuli’s Conti Attems winery from 70% to 100%. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Specializing in ultra-premium white wines, notably Pinot Grigio, Attems has 49 hectares (121 acres) of vineyards in Friuli’s Collio region. Frescobaldi first invested in Attems in 2000, its first and only estate ownership outside Tuscany. Attems’ single-vineyard Cicinis offering, selling for around $40, has garnered several 90+ scores from Wine Spectator. Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi’s wines are imported to the U.S. by Folio Fine Wine Partners.

•San Francisco-based Haas Brothers has relaunched Cyrus Noble Bourbon in the U.S. market. Craft distilled in Nelson County, Kentucky, Cyrus Noble first launched more than 140 years ago, becoming one of San Francisco’s most popular spirits during the height of the California Gold Rush (1849-1906). Inspired by Cyrus Noble’s original recipe, the revamped version (priced at $24.99-$26.99 a 750-ml.) is now available in California, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Washington, with additional rollouts to follow.

•The Gerber Group is adding Pisco Portón to its back-bars and cocktail menus across its locations, such as The Whiskey, Whiskey Blue and The Stone Rose. Pisco Portón launched in the U.S. in April and will be available in 27 states by the end of 2011. The new ultra-premium white spirit (selling for between $40 and $50 a bottle) is made of grapes grown in the Andes Mountains and created in the Hacienda La Caravedo distillery in Peru. It’s being launched stateside by a group of U.S. investors including Pisco Porton master distiller Johnny Schuler.

•Mexico-city based Grupo Modelo said Thursday that its second quarter profits fell by 1.5%—the third drop in the last four quarters. The peso’s rise against the dollar, as well as higher costs and taxes hit profits despite a strong increase in sales. Second quarter profits reached 2.88 billion pesos ($247 million), down from 2.93 billion pesos ($250 million) during the same period last year. Sales, boosted by a 10.6% jump in exports, rose 8.2% to 25.1 billion pesos ($2.1 billion).

•Van Gogh Vodka will be rolling out two new flavor additions—Rich Dark Chocolate and Cool Peach—into the U.S. market this fall. Cool Peach is infused with peach, almond and mint flavors, while Rich Dark Chocolate features double the amount of cocoa used in Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka, launched in 2002. Priced at $27.99 per 750-ml., the two extensions bring Van Gogh’s flavor portfolio up to 21.

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