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

News Briefs for March 29, 2012

March 29, 2012

•Diageo is making progress on its bid to acquire an equity stake in Jose Cuervo Tequila, Reuters reports, quoting unnamed sources. According to the report, Diageo is likely to secure a minority stake in Cuervo, which has been valued around $3.1 billion, by this summer—ahead of the June 2013 expiration of Diageo’s global distribution contract for the brand. “The most likely scenario is that Diageo takes a minority stake and then looks to increase its influence over time and gain control,” one banking source said. Diageo CEO Paul Walsh told the Wall Street Journal over the weekend that any new deal with Cuervo would require either control or a route to control of the brand. The 10th-ranked spirit brand in the U.S. market, Cuervo slipped 1.4% to 3.4 million cases in 2011, according to Impact Databank. The brand sells 6.9 million cases globally, down 1.5% last year. Also in the past year, it was overtaken by Patrón as the top-selling Tequila worldwide by retail value, according to Impact’s ranking of the top 100 global spirits brands by value.

•Veteran California winemaker Mitch Cosentino has launched pureCru Napa Valley, a new wine group focused on producing unique, limited-quantity blends. The pureCru portfolio currently includes a core eponymous range (featuring Cabernet Sauvignon-, Pinot Noir-, and Sangiovese-based blends priced between $25-$100 a 750-ml.), as well as pureCoz, a red blend selling for $65, and Purety, a white blend retailing at $25. Additionally, Cosentino has partnered with professional golfer Fred Couples to create pureCru’s Couples & Co. brand, which offers Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay varietals retailing for $25-$36. Cosentino is the founder and former winemaker of Napa Valley’s Cosentino Winery. He continues to as serve as a consultant for the 30-year-old winery, which was acquired by Vintage Wine Estates in early 2011 amidst foreclosure.

•The Wine Grape Growers of Australia (WGGA) are forecasting a harvest of roughly 1.4 million tonnes (1.54m tons) for 2012, based on a recent survey with the harvest about 70% complete. That total would represent a 13% decrease from 2011, whose 1.63-million-tonne harvest, similar to that of 2010, was seen as too large given the oversupply issues that have dogged Australia’s wine industry in recent years. While the eastern part of the country has lately endured flooding, WGGA said the season was generally characterized by mild conditions that created “steady, ideal ripening” and augur a smaller, but high-quality crop for Australia’s current harvest.

•Ten renowned New York City chefs, including Sara Jenkins of Porsena and Porchetta, Mark Ladner of Del Posto and Sisha Ortuzar of Riverpark, will be participating in a traveling pop-up restaurant and art installation that will debut this spring in a yet-to-be-announced city. In each city the team visits, a New York chef will be paired with a local chef to cook and serve dinner on a designated night. At each venue, photos from previous events will decorate the interiors, and the project ultimately will be turned into a bilingual cookbook featuring the various recipes the chefs created in each city, as well as photos documenting their travels.

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