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News Briefs for September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011

•Italy’s 2011 grape harvest is expected to be one of the lowest on record, according to trade group Unione Italiana Vini. The predicted yield of 42.3 million hectoliters represents a 10% drop from last year’s harvest, which produced 46.7 million hectoliters. The organization attributes the low numbers to record temperatures at the end of August and little rain, which has also led to an earlier harvest. The association is also predicting higher alcohol content for wines made from this year’s Italian crop.

•Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard is unveiling new Redbreast 12-year-old Cask Strength Irish whiskey, the first permanent cask-strength expression added to the Redbreast portfolio. It will be available this month in France, Germany and Ireland and roll out in the U.S. in February 2012. The 57.7%-abv single pot whiskey was triple distilled and bottled straight from the cask without any water added. The launch comes as part of Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard’s Single Pot Still whiskeys of Midleton initiative, which started in May. Redbreast depleted 10,000 cases in the U.S. in 2010, according to Impact Databank.

•Restaurateur Arrigo Cipriani, Lapo Elkman of Fiat, Venetian entrepreneur Francesco Cosulich and Friulian distiller Marco Fantinel have collaborated on a new super-premium Italian vodka, I Spirit, launching in the U.S. market. I Spirit, priced at $35 a 750-ml. bottle and $40 a 1-liter bottle, is made from a traditional northeastern Italian recipe using high-quality grain and Friulian white grapes and is five times distilled. The new entry is launching initially at top New York and New Jersey bars, restaurants and retailers.

•Regulators from 18 Asia Pacific nations met with global wine industry members in San Francisco this week to discuss streamlining import-export requirements across the region and share best practices on wine certification, analysis, winemaking and labeling. The two-day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Wine Regulatory Forum was sponsored by the U.S., Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Peru, and included delegations from China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. APEC nations’ share of the global wine trade has risen from 21.8% to 26% over the past decade, according to The Wine Institute, with the region’s wine business tripling to $3.6 billion over the same period. Differing regulatory requirements across the region cost APEC economies and businesses as much as $1 billion annually.

•Luxco has come to an agreement to acquire 100% of Cleveland’s Paramount Distillers and its subsidiary Meier Wine Cellars in Cincinnati for an undisclosed sum. “This is a strategic move that allows us to increase our presence in markets like Ohio and Iowa while giving us the opportunity to grow our wine portfolio and expand into other product lines such as the non-alcohol products made by Meier’s,” said Luxco chairman and CEO Donn Lux. Subject to approvals, the deal is expected to close by the end of this month. Earlier this year, Luxco sold its 700,000-case Admiral Nelson rum brand to Heaven Hill Distilleries for an undisclosed amount.

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