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News Briefs for June 5, 2012

June 5, 2012

•St. Helena, California-based C. Mondavi & Sons has officially launched The Divining Rod, its first new brand in more than 60 years. Unveiled exclusively to Shanken News Daily in March, The Divining Rod is named for C. Mondavi co-proprietor and winemaker Marc Mondavi’s knack for finding underground sources of water beneath vineyard land. The range is currently comprised of a 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay and a 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, both available nationwide at around $17 a 750-ml. The Divining Rod joins C. Mondavi’s existing 1.52-million-case portfolio, which features the super-premium Charles Krug and accessibly priced CK Mondavi brands.

•Beam Inc. has launched two new flavor extensions to its Pucker vodka line—Lemonade Lust and Raspberry Rave. Priced at $16.99 a 750-ml., the two join a flavor range that includes Sour Apple Sass, Grape Gone Wild, Cherry Tease and Citrus Squeeze. In time for the release, Pucker has partnered with deejay Steve Aoki to launch a new TV ad campaign featuring an exclusive remix of one of his songs. The commercials, created by Euro RSCG Chicago, will begin this month. Meanwhile, Beam’s Red Stag is teaming up with Adam Richman, host of the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” television show, for the “Track the Red Stag Food Truck Tour” this summer. The food truck will offer a menu created by Richman and prepared with Red Stag expressions Honey Tea, Spiced and Black Cherry.

•Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the chef and restaurateur behind ABC Kitchen, located within ABC Carpet & Home in New York City, will be taking over the home store’s other restaurant concept, Pipa, currently owned by Vongerichten’s partner Phil Suarez, to open a new restaurant. Pipa will close in August for complete renovations and is expected to reopen in October as ABC Cocina, a Latin-inspired restaurant with a focus on local ingredients, with Vongerichten at the helm. Vongerichten owns and operates more than a dozen restaurant concepts in New York City, Las Vegas, London, Paris and Shanghai.

•Former “Top Chef” contestant and restaurateur Fabio Viviani is slated to open his first Chicago restaurant late this year or in early 2013. He is partnering with David Rekhson and Luke Stoioff, the owners of Chicago restaurants Public House and Bull & Bear, for the yet-to-be-named Italian concept. Viviani currently owns two Italian restaurants, Firenze Osteria and Café Firenze, in Los Angeles.

•Classic Wines LLC owner Bill Price and winemaker Gavin Chanin are collaborating on a new small-production California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay project, Price Chanin Vineyards. The wines will be made at the duo’s new winery at Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria on the Central Coast. The 2011 vintage, which will appear early next year, will feature a small amount of Pinot Noir from Price’s Durell Vineyard in Sonoma and a Pinot Noir from La Rinconada Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills. Chardonnay will be added to the line-up beginning with 2012, as well as additional sources including the La Encantada, Bien Nacido and Sanford & Benedict vineyards, among others. In addition to owning Durell, Price has stakes in fellow California wineries Buccella, Head High and Kistler. He’s also chairman of Vincraft, the Sonoma investment group with controlling stakes in Kosta Browne and Gary Farrell.

•Actor Adrian Grenier and partner Justin Hawkins have launched the Churchkey Can Co., a new craft beer company specializing in vintage-style packaging. Currently selling its brews in Seattle and Portland, the company is expanding into the San Francisco market this month. Subsequent rollouts in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Austin are slated for August. Produced in partnership with home brewers Lucas Jones and Sean Burke, head brewer Joel VandenBrink and beer can supplier Ball Corporation, Churchkey’s single offering is a handcrafted Pilsner-style beer (4.9%-abv) packaged in 12-ounce, flat top steel cans. The flat top cans—which were first introduced in 1935, but replaced by pull-tab cans in the mid-1960s—can only be opened with a “churchkey” opener. The Churchkey Can Co. Pilsner is priced at $9.99 a six-pack off-premise, and around $3-$5 a can at bars and restaurants.

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