Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012

•Beam Inc. has extended its Knob Creek Bourbon brand with the launch of Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, a 50%-abv offering made with a rye-based grain recipe as opposed to Bourbon’s corn-based formula. Priced at $35.99 a 750-ml., Knob Creek Rye Whiskey is currently available in select U.S. markets, and is expected to roll out nationwide in July. The new expression follows last year’s launch of Knob Creek Single-Barrel Reserve ($39.99 a 750-ml.), which is aged for nine years in American oak barrels and bottled at near barrel proof. Knob Creek, which depletes over 140,000 cases in the U.S. annually, saw comparable net sales rise 20% in 2011. It’s part of Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection, which also includes the Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s and Baker’s brands.

•Palm Bay International is introducing a new sparkling rosé under the Lunetta brand, produced by Italian wine player Cavit. A cuvée of Chardonnay blended with indigenous Trentino red grape varieties Lagrein, Teroldego and Pinot Noir, all grapes for Lunetta Rosé are sourced from the Adige Valley and Vallagarina. The new offering will sell for $11.99 a 750-ml. in line with the core Lunetta Prosecco label. Palm Bay projected that Lunetta would grow roughly 50% to 150,000 cases last year. The brand is second only to Impact “Hot Brand” Mionetto by volume in the U.S. Prosecco category.

•Destileria Serralles has named Haleybrooke International as its exclusive travel retail agent in the Americas, covering the U.S., Canada and other select markets. The primary focus will be on Serralles’s Don Q rum brand, especially its high-end Don Q Grand Anejo variant, which sells for around $60 a bottle. Don Q has been rising fast in the U.S., with sales up 16% to 220,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Wine Spectator reports that Rudy Kurniawan, a high-flying California-based wine dealer and collector who once bought and sold millions of dollars worth of wine annually, was arrested by the FBI on March 8 and charged with five felony counts of wire and mail fraud. The charges center on sales of allegedly counterfeit wines. A key piece of evidence in the case emerged last month, when California-based Spectrum Auctions withdrew more than 100 bottles of wine, 78 of them allegedly consigned by Kurniawan through a nominee, from a London auction. Those wines were attributed to Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Comte Georges de Vogüé, but after questions were raised about their provenance the wineries’ proprietors declared them fakes. A hearing is scheduled for April 9 concerning the Justice Department’s request to send Kurniawan to New York for trial. If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. Kurniawan played a major role in the wine auction market over the past decade. In 2006, New York-based auction house Acker Merrall & Condit sold about $38 million of wine at two auctions, all of it consigned by Kurniawan. The second of those auctions fetched $24.7 million, still a record for a single sale.

•Superfly Presents, the marketing group behind the annual Bonnaroo music festival, is launching a food, drinks and music festival called The Great GoogaMooga, which will be held on May 19-20 in Brooklyn, New York’s Prospect Park. The festival will feature 75 different food vendors, 35 craft brewers, 30 winemakers and 20 live performances. So far, more than 30 renowned New York City restaurants have agreed to participate, including Colicchio & Sons, Momofuku Milk Bar and The Spotted Pig. The beer vendors—yet to be announced—are being selected by Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery, while Paul Grieco of New York City wine bars Terroir and Hearth is selecting the wine vendors, also yet to be announced.

•Chef Brad Farmerie of New York City restaurants Saxon + Parole and Public has teamed up with AvroKO Hospitality Group’s cocktail director Naren Young to open The Daily, a new Manhattan cocktail lounge at which the food and drink menus will be updated daily. The Daily is slated to open by the end of March in the SoHo space adjacent to Public that formerly housed the wine bar The Monday Room.

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