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News Briefs for July 19, 2012

July 19, 2012

Rémy Cointreau has reported 24.4% organic sales growth in its fiscal first quarter ended June 30, to €271.6 million ($332.4m), with strong performances in Asia and the U.S. Rémy Martin Cognac posted strong growth in the quarter, up 37.8% organically to €173.8 million ($212.8m), with momentum continuing in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific. The company’s liqueurs and spirits division was also on the rise, increasing 8.5% to €50.3 million ($61.5m), as Cointreau and St-Rémy showed solid progress and Metaxa saw renewed growth in Europe. Rémy could soon add its first Scotch whisky brand to its portfolio—it’s currently in talks with Islay single malt producer Bruichladdich, with the aim of acquiring the brand.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has partnered with shipping company Railex in a bid to create a new rail-centered wine shipping platform. Under the plan, Railex will build a $18-$20 million, 500,000-square-foot wine distribution center in Wallula, Washington, slated to open in February 2013. Ste. Michelle has signed a long-term lease for most of the facility, which will offer refrigerated, humidity-controlled storage and have a capacity of 5 million cases. Railex will transport the wines across the country via its own network, which includes three existing facilities, linked by a refrigerated perishable unit train. The agreement builds on an existing relationship between Ste. Michelle and Railex, which currently handles around 1 million cases of Ste. Michelle’s volume annually. The goal is for Ste. Michelle to eventually ship about half of its wines by rail, up from its current 25%.

E&J Gallo Winery is said to be launching a new dessert-inspired flavored malt beverage brand, Delicia. The company has successfully registered trademarks for two expressions—Delicia Whipped and Delicia Strawberries & Cream—each of which are 5% abv. Further details on the new brand were unavailable at press time.

Anheuser-Busch is entering the second stage of Project 12, a competition in which 12 brewmasters from 12 different Budweiser breweries compete to create the best small-batch “tribute” beers. Through internal tasting and analysis, the 12 resulting lagers have been pared down to six finalists, which are now entering a summer-long consumer sampling effort across the U.S. The six entrants—named for the zip code where they were brewed—include Budweiser Small Batch 91406 (Los Angeles), 63118 (St. Louis), 43229 (Columbus, Ohio), 23185 (Williamsburg, Virginia), 13027 (Baldwinsville, New York) and 80524 (Fort Collins, Colorado). In addition to private events at each of the 12 original brewery sites, sampling will also take place during the two-day “Budweiser Made in America” music festival in Philadelphia, as well as at various music events across the U.S. Consumer feedback will help Budweiser narrow the six beers to three for inclusion in a limited-edition sampler pack.

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