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News Briefs for October 19, 2011

October 19, 2011

•TastingRoom.com has extended its celebrity sampler collection with the launch of the Mario Batali Selection Wine Lovers’ Road Trip. The award-winning chef’s wine sampler includes six 50-ml. bottles, along with his personal tasting notes and food pairing recommendations. The wines were chosen by Batali and include 2007 vintages of John Duval “Entity” Barossa Valley Shiraz and Dry Creek Vineyard “Old Vine” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel; 2008 vintages of Papapietro Perry Elsbree Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Amavi Cellars Walla Walla Valley Syrah and Glen Carlou “Grand Classique” South Africa red blend; and the 2009 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Batali joins numerous renowned sommeliers and chefs from around the world who’ve partnered with TastingRoom.com to create wine tasting packages that allow consumers to taste and learn about wines before they purchase entire bottles.

•Japan has surpassed France as the country with the most restaurants to receive a three-star rating from the Michelin restaurant guide, reports the Wall Street Journal. After tying with France last year, Japan took the top spot with 29 three-star restaurants in Michelin’s 2012 edition—four more than France. The Michelin guide added Japan to the list of countries evaluated in 2008, awarding eight Tokyo restaurants a three-star rating the first year—beating New York’s three and coming just shy of Paris’s 10 (New York has since been awarded six more three-star venues). The 2012 edition of the publication, which highlights restaurants in Japan’s western region, will be released Friday in English and Japanese.

•Chicago-based daily deal site Groupon is back on track to go public with the launch of a roadshow for investors next Monday, reports Reuters. An IPO is expected to value the company at between $11-$12 billion. Groupon initially filed for an IPO in June, which was expected to value the company at up to $20 billion. After the stock market dipped in late summer, the IPO was put on hold. Groupon has come under regulatory scrutiny for its accounting practices in recent months and has yet to turn a profit.

•SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer, has sold its Russian and Ukrainian beer businesses (valued at approximately $1.9 billion) to Anadolu Efes in exchange for a 24% equity stake in the Turkish brewing company. Anadolu Efes will serve as the vehicle for both groups’ investments in the CIS, Central Asia and the Middle East, as well as Turkey, where Anadolu Efes claims an 89% share of the domestic beer market. The alliance will also provide particularly strong leverage in Russia—where the two companies are expected to generate at least $120 million annually in cost synergies—earning SABMiller and Anadolu Efes the market’s number-two position by value. Turkish conglomerate Anadolu Group will maintain effective control of Anadolu Efes with a 42.81% stake. In a fiscal first half update released earlier today, SABMiller’s beer volumes grew 3% in the six months through September, due primarily to growth throughout Latin America, Africa and in China. Volumes in Russia were also up 3%. MillerCoors, the brewer’s U.S. joint venture with Molson Coors, saw sales to retailers fall 2.3%.

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