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News Briefs for February 23, 2012

February 23, 2012

Moët Hennessy has reached an agreement with Chinese company VATS Group that will see the two collaborate on a new super-premium red wine sourced from Yunnan province in southern China. The new venture, Moët Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery Co. Ltd., will produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes from around 30 hectares (74 acres) of vineyards situated at the foot of the Himalayan mountains. Moët Hennessy CEO Christophe Navarre said that despite the high altitude (roughly 8,000 feet), the location boasts an ideal terroir for producing Bordeaux varietals. The move follows a similar deal last year, through which Moët Hennessy is preparing to produce sparkling wines under its Chandon brand in northwest China’s Ningxia region.

Reported exclusively in the January 31 issue of Shanken News Daily, Treasury Wine Estates today officially unveiled the launch of “Be.”, a new line of wines aimed at millennial female consumers. Shipments to distributors are being carried out in February and March, and the national launch starts in April. The “Be.” product line will have four varietals: Pink Moscato, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling, retailing at between $9.99 and $12.99. The concept is fun, easy-to-drink and approachable wine for casual occasions.

•The Boston Beer Company saw net revenue rise by 11% to $513 million in 2011. Shipment volume for the year came to 2.5 million barrels (or 34.4 million 2.25-gallon cases). Depletions grew 7% in 2011, due mainly to increases in Samuel Adams Seasonals, Twisted Tea and Boston Lager, which helped offset losses in Sam Adams Light and the Brewmaster’s Collection. In the fourth quarter ending December 31, Boston Beer’s net income was $17.8 million, up $5.6 million from the year-earlier period. Net revenue for the quarter rose by 23% from the previous year, to $142.1 million.

•Van Gogh Vodka is launching a new flavor extension, PB&J, at the end of March. Priced at $27.99 a 750-ml., the new expression brings Van Gogh’s flavor portfolio up to 22, including the recently released Rich Dark Chocolate and Cool Peach. The brand saw volume decline by 5.1% in 2011, to 150,000 nine-liter cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Gruppo Campari says it will invest more than $40 million in a new bottling facility at its Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, over the next three years. The new addition will provide full bottling and packaging capabilities for all of Gruppo Campari’s U.S.-distilled brands, including Skyy vodka as well as the Wild Turkey brand family. “This gives us the ownership of the full production process for our Wild Turkey brands—from distilling to aging to bottling—all in one location, while also housing the packaging of our largest U.S.-based brand, Skyy vodka,” said Gruppo Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz. Slated to open in fall of 2013, the new packaging plant is designed to handle 4 million nine-liter cases annually. Campari announced a $50 million expansion of Wild Turkey’s distillery last summer, which will see its capacity more than double to 11 million proof gallons.

Patrón Spirits Co. chief operating officer John McDonnell has been elected chairman of the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) for a two-year term. He replaces James Bareuther, EVP and COO of Brown-Forman. McDonnell, who spent 18 years at Joseph E. Seagram & Sons in various domestic and international sales and marketing positions before joining Patrón in 2005, will work closely with DISCUS president and CEO Peter Cressy.

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