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

News Briefs for March 16, 2012

March 16, 2012

•William Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich single malt has broken the record for the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold at auction with the sale of its 55-year-old Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve for $94,000. Hosted by actor Adrian Grenier and Glenfiddich malt master Brian Kinsman, the record-breaking event took place last night at a New York charity gala celebrating Glenfiddich’s 125th anniversary on Liberty Island. Proceeds from the sale were donated to SHFT, a non-profit environmental organization founded by Grenier. The Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, launched in November 2011, was made to honor the oldest living Scot. Only eleven bottles were produced, with the first bottle selling for £46,850 ($72,630) at an Edinburgh auction last December.

•San Francisco-based Anchor Brewers & Distillers will add Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Glenrothes single malt Scotch whisky to its U.S. portfolio beginning May 1. Glenrothes is a Speyside single malt that includes Select Reserve ($49.99 a 750-ml.) as well as Vintage offerings. While noting that the brand has seen sustained growth under Campari America, Berry Bros. said it preferred to consolidate its U.S. business with Anchor, in which it holds a significant minority stake. Other Berry Bros. brands in Anchor’s stable include No. 3 gin, The King’s Ginger liqueur and Pink Pigeon rum. The Anchor spirits portfolio also includes Hirsch and Old Potrero American whiskies, as well as Chinaco Tequila.

•Diageo has inked a multiyear deal with the Texas Rangers to sponsor the Captain Morgan Club, a new restaurant and sports bar at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The 9,000-square-foot, two-story venue, expected to be open in the first week in April for the start of baseball season, will seat 230 guests and feature a full-service bar with Diageo-branded products. Diageo has been a Rangers corporate partner since 1999 and has had naming rights to the Cuervo Club, a similar concept at the stadium, since 2001.

•After purchasing Fetzer Vineyards from Brown-Forman last year in a deal worth $238 million, Concha y Toro has updated the California wine brand’s packaging. Fetzer now dons a new icon, label and shipper cases designed to look more contemporary and reflect a brand message of environmental sustainability, as well as increase appeal to millennials and improve differentiation. Fetzer sells around 1.8 million cases in the U.S. annually, down from over 2 million as recently as 2008. Concha y Toro also acquired the Bonterra, Little Black Dress, Jekel, Five Rivers and Bel Arbor wine labels in the aforementioned deal. The Concha y Toro, Little Black Dress and Five Rivers brands are marketed in the U.S. by Excelsior Wine Co., a new venture between CyT and its longtime importer Banfi Vintners, while The Fetzer Vineyards Co. handles both its namesake brand and Bonterra, Bel Arbor and Jekel.

•Kenwood Vineyards has introduced new packaging for its Sonoma Series wine range with the rollout of the 2011 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc and the 2011 Kenwood Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Gris. The two wines are priced at $12 and $16 a bottle, respectively. In addition to a more modern and simplified front and back label, both new releases feature screw-cap bottle closures, which will now be used for all Sonoma Series wines intended for immediate consumption. Currently launching nationwide, roughly 67,000 cases of the Sauvignon Blanc and 1,500 cases of the Pinot Gris were produced.

•Newport, Rhode Island-based Newport Harbor Corp., parent of Newport Restaurant Group, has acquired seven of the 12-unit Papa Razzi Trattoria and Bar chain from Charles Sarkis of Boston-based Back Bay Restaurant Group. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Newport Harbor Corp. now owns Papa Razzi restaurants in Cranston, Rhode Island and the Massachusetts cities of Boston, Burlington, Chestnut Hill, Concord, Framingham and Wellesley, with no plans to change the brand concept significantly. Sarkis remains the owner of five Papa Razzi units in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

•A mammoth dining entertainment center is opening in Rosemont, Illinois, near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, next month. Called the Park at Rosemont, the 200,000-square-foot venue will have a 30,000-square-foot garden for farmers’ markets and special events, as well as various restaurants, including Five Roses Pub, Adobe Gila’s Margarita Fajita Cantina, Park Tavern and a German beer hall called Hofbrauhaus Chicago, among others. The Park at Rosemont will also house a Zanies Comedy Club and a bowling and billiards hall called King’s Lanes & Lounge.

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