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News Briefs for January 17, 2012

January 17, 2012

•Gordon Ramsay is set to open his first Las Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak, at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino this spring. Designed to blend the venue’s Parisian theme with Ramsay’s British heritage, the restaurant is replacing Paris Las Vegas’s former Les Artistes Steakhouse. Featuring 274 seats, a chef’s table, private dining room and large bar area, Gordon Ramsay Steak will offer “traditional steakhouse fare,” including aged cuts of beef, seafood and French-influenced sides.

Boston Beer Co.’s Samuel Adams brand is unveiling a new seasonal brew, Alpine Spring. Alpine Spring will be available from January through April, priced at around $7.99 per six-pack, at 5.5%-abv and classified as an unfiltered wheat lager. Made with a German Noble hop variety called Tettnang-Tettnanger that imparts a citrusy flavor, Alpine Spring replaces Noble Pils as Sam Adams’ spring seasonal. Noble Pils is now moving to year-round availability as part of the brand’s Brewmasters Collection. Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch InBev is reportedly lining up a new summer seasonal under its fast-rising Shock Top brand, Lemon Shandy (4.2%-abv.), a Belgian-style wheat beer with spices and natural lemonade flavoring.

•Asian bidders continued their trend toward Burgundy and away from Bordeaux over the weekend at two Hong Kong auctions. Sotheby’s 1,000-lot Bordeaux-focused sale, which had a pre-sale estimate of HK$50–HK$70 million ($6.4m–$9m), was just 85% sold by lot and 82% sold by value, drawing HK$44.1 million ($5.7m). Six lots of Chateau Lafite 2003 went unsold, as did eight lots of Chateau Latour 2003 and three lots of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2005. Sotheby’s top lot was a Burgundy, a case of 1990 Domaine de la Romanée Conti, which sold for HK$1.8 million ($232,000), beating its pre-sale estimate of HK$1–HK$1.5 million ($129,000–$193,000). Meanwhile, Acker Merrall & Condit’s 1,000-lot sale, which was 90% sold, also demonstrated rising prices for Burgundy, reaching HK$67 million ($8.6m). The top lot was a 12-bottle case of 1985 Domaine de la Romanée Conti, which raised HK$1.5 million ($188,000).

•New Rochelle, New York-based Sidney Frank Importing Co. has named Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) as its exclusive wine and spirits distributor in Illinois beginning March 1. The move marks a switch from current distributor Wirtz Beverage Group in Illinois. Also March 1, Southern Wine & Spirits-Pacific Northwest Brokerage will become Sidney Frank’s exclusive spirits broker in the control states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming; its wine broker in Utah and Wyoming; and its wine distributor in Oregon. SWS is also gaining distribution of Sidney Frank’s brands in Washington state. It will begin handling the group’s spirits brands in the on-premise and wine both on- and off-premise in Washington March 1, and add spirits in the off-premise on June 1. Young’s Market Co. previously handled Sidney Frank’s brands in those states. Sidney Frank’s portfolio is led by Jägermeister, and also includes Gekkeikan sake, Michael Collins Irish whiskey and Bärenjäger honey liqueur.

Southern Wine & Spirits has named Ryan Lawrence to the newly created position of vice president, national accounts, leading the Southern team that manages its relationship with Walmart and Sam’s Club. Lawrence will report directly to George Fisher, senior vice president, national off-premise accounts. Lawrence previously served as director of category management at Campbell’s Soup and prior to that was director of strategic accounts for Constellation Brands, where he also focused on category management for Walmart and Sam’s Club.

•Following its acquisition of Hornsby’s cider from E&J Gallo for about $23 million late last year, Ireland’s C&C Group has named Joris Brams to the new position of managing director, international. Brams formerly held management roles at Scottish & Newcastle and Alken-Maes. He will oversee development of Magners while also integrating Hornsby’s.

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