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News Briefs for April 17, 2012

April 17, 2012

•At least one prominent Bordeaux château has answered the call from négociants and retailers asking for an early and quick en primeur season this year, reports Wine Spectator. Pauillac first-growth Château Lafite Rothschild got things rolling when it released its 2011 at 350 euros ex-cellar April 16, the first major release of the 2011 futures season. The price is a 30 percent decrease from the 2010.

•Oregon has recorded a 33% surge in its 2011 wine grape harvest to a record-high 41,500 tons, according to the Oregon branch of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average price per ton of Oregon wine grapes slipped 3.9% to $2,030 last year, but the overall value of production jumped 29% to $82 million. Oregon’s signature Pinot Noir (+42%) and Pinot Gris (+14%) varietals both saw production surges, but so did other grapes like Merlot (+59%), Syrah (+39%), Chardonnay (+28%) and Viognier (+126%). Pinot Noir, at nearly 24 million tons in 2011, accounted for 57% of Oregon wine grape production, while Pinot Gris, at 6 million tons, comprised another 15%.

•W.J. Deutsch & Sons is moving its wine portfolio from Bellboy Corp. to Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) in Minnesota, effective immediately. The move represents another extension of a Southern-Deutsch relationship that’s been expanding recently. Last September, Southern took over Deutsch’s distribution from Young’s-Columbia in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. SWS, Deutsch’s largest distribution partner, also handles Deutsch brands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, South Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi (exclusive brokerage rights). SWS of Minnesota—a partnership between Southern and beer distributor J.J. Taylor—acquired certain assets of fellow Minnesota wholesaler Quality Wine & Spirits in February. In Minnesota, spirits producers sell to every wholesaler, but wine lines are exclusive.

Don Sebastiani & Sons has named Jean Arnold vice president, director of sales, replacing Mike Cekay, who departed for Crimson Wine Group in recent days. Arnold joined Don & Sons in 2006 from E&J Gallo to spearhead sales and marketing at Don & Sons’ offshoot The Other Guys (now a separate company). In 2010, he launched the Sebastiani family’s Sivas-Sonoma sales and marketing division, focusing on smaller, developing domestic distributors. In his new role, Arnold will be responsible for all domestic and international sales for a Don & Sons portfolio that includes California wine labels B Side, Aquinas, Smoking Loon and Pepperwood Grove among others.

Sazerac Co.’s Wave vodka brand, which debuted last October, has added Wave Lemon Lime and Wave Baja—a tropical fruit-flavored extension—to its lineup. Retailing at $8.99 a 750-ml., the two offerings are also available in 1.75-liter, 1-liter and 50-ml. sizes. Lemon Lime and Baja join Wave’s unflavored core vodka as well as its Whipped Cream, Pink Lemonade, Cherry, Blue Raspberry and Grape flavors.

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