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

News Briefs for May 17, 2012

May 17, 2012

•Fresh & Easy is expanding its line of own-label wines. New additions will include extensions to Fresh & Easy’s Big Kahuna and I Love CA wine ranges. Big Kahuna will add a Sangria, Sweet White and Crisp White, with the Sangria selling in a plastic 1.5-liter bottle for under $6. I Love CA has extended with Sauvignon Blanc and Red Blend offerings, both retailing at under $5 a 750-ml. Fresh & Easy is also debuting its first organically grown private label, Green Thumb Red and White. Finally, the company has introduced a limited-edition “Side by Side” Bravery Red Blend and Chardonnay selling through Memorial Day at $5.99 a bottle, with a dollar from each sale donated to the Azalea Charities “Aid for Wounded Warriors” program benefiting wounded U.S. servicemen. Of the 300 wines offered by Fresh & Easy, more than 100 are own-label.

Ketel One vodka is teaming up with GQ magazine to launch a new online campaign called “A Gentleman’s Call: In Pursuit of an Idea that Matters.” Led by actors Ian Somerhalder and Carlos Ponce and Movember Foundation CEO Adam Garone, A Gentleman’s Call is a nationwide search for an “idea, inspiration or endeavor that will raise society’s behavioral bar.” From now until July 29, contestants can submit project ideas on www.AGentlemansCall.com. Five finalists will be selected and then consumers across the country will pick the winner, who will receive a $100,000 investment from Ketel One for their project. Ketel One, 50%-owned by Diageo, rose 5.3% to 2 million cases in the U.S. market last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Heaven Hill Distilleries will roll out a limited-edition Elijah Craig 20-Year-Old Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey beginning later this month. The Bourbon (45%-abv) will be available in major metro markets in 36 states across the country. Less than 1,300 bottles have been produced, priced at $130 a 750-ml. Heaven Hill initially released a special one-barrel bottling of the Elijah Craig 20-Year-Old last fall, which won the title of “American Whiskey of the Year” from Whisky Advocate. Heaven Hill has temporarily suspended bottling of the Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old expression to keep stock levels manageable, but plans to add additional extra-aged single-barrel limited editions to the line over the next few years.

•For the second time in nine months, Sazerac Co. has agreed to acquire a number of spirits brands from White Rock Distilleries. The brands include Baja, Tenure, Epic, Superia, Stroyski, El Charro, Blackmaker, Chocolate Valley Vines and others. The price for the sale, which becomes effective May 31, was undisclosed. Last September, Sazerac purchased more than 30 brands from White Rock, which also recently sold fast-rising Pinnacle Vodka and Calico Jack rum to Beam Inc.

•Food Network chef Guy Fieri is opening his first New York City restaurant near Times Square this fall. Fieri already owns two restaurant chain concepts in California—Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi’s—and his East Coast venture will reportedly be an entirely new concept called Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, though further details weren’t available at press time.

•BL Restaurant Operations’ Bar Louie restaurant and bar chain launched a new beverage program this week, including eight new cocktails, a revamped wine list and new beer options. Created by bar manager Nick Elliot, the new cocktails are updated versions of classic concoctions and highlight premium spirits and freshly squeezed fruit juices. Bar Louie has also partnered with the band Train and their new wine label Save Me, San Francisco to be the first on-premise business to carry the label’s California 37 Cabernet Sauvignon, which Bar Louie will offer exclusively through the end of November. In addition, Bar Louie revised its wine list to include 15 new offerings and has expanded its draft beer options to include more local and craft options. BL Restaurant Operations manages more than 50 Bar Louie locations in 17 states and Washington, D.C.


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