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

News Briefs for July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012

Pernod Ricard USA is relaunching its Frïs vodka brand and extending it with three new flavors. Frïs’s revamp includes a new bottle design and a reformulation of the liquid. New flavor entries Orange Freeze and Citrus Freeze will be added in September, with another, Whipped Freeze, to appear in 2013. Pernod says the brand ($10.99 a 750-ml.) is best served ice-cold, which positions it to compete with Diageo’s similarly-priced Ursus vodka. Frïs rose 7% to 385,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

•At the opening of a new Total Wine & More location in Virginia Beach last week, Total Wine co-owner David Trone urged Virginia lawmakers to privatize spirits sales in the state. The local Virginian-Pilot quoted Trone as portraying Virginia’s state-run ABC stores as weak on selection and high on prices, and said Total Wine will lobby for another run at privatization in the state’s next Assembly session. A recent effort at spirits privatization by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell fizzled in the state’s legislature. Meanwhile, speaking to the retail spirits landscape in newly privatized Washington state—where Total Wine is planning to open 10 stores this year—Trone said strong competition from supermarkets and discounters has led Total Wine to markedly lower prices since the opening of its first Washington store in Bellevue late last month.

•Chicago-based Vin Divino has been named the exclusive U.S. importer for Rioja wine producer Bodegas Casa Primicia, effective immediately. Under the deal, Vin Divino will distribute seven offerings from the winery’s Casa Primicia brand nationwide. The U.S. lineup includes the brand’s Tinto ($10 a 750-ml.); its single varietal Tempranillo, Mazeulo, Garnacha and Graciano offerings (all priced at $21); the Julian Madrid Reserve ($40) and the Cofradia Reserve ($73). Bodegas Casa Primicia is Vin Divino’s first Spanish offering, joining the importer’s brands from Napa, Chile, Austria and Italy.

•Hess Family Estates has named Timothy Persson as chief executive officer of The Hess Collection, effective immediately. Persson’s appointment follows the departure of Gary Bulger, who has been president at Hess since 2009, and will be located in Napa. Persson is also chairman of The Hess Collection board as well as a Hess Family Estates managing director, involved in developing a strategic direction for The Hess Collection. The Hess Collection portfolio features Hess Collection Mount Veeder Estate wines, Hess Napa Valley wines and Hess Select wines, as well as Artezin, Sequana and MacPhail Family Wines.

•New York City Italian food and wine marketplace Eataly—owned by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich—has a new, 34-seat classroom called La Scuola Grande, offering seasonal wine and culinary classes curated by Lidia Bastianich and taught by Eataly’s team of sommeliers, chefs and cheesemongers. Summer classes launched this month under the theme “From Mare to Monti” (Italian for “From Sea to Mountain”) and range from $35 to $100 each. La Scuola Grande also serves as a pop-up Italian restaurant called Pranzo, which is open on weekdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.


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