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News Briefs for November 13, 2012

November 13, 2012

•Chopin Imports is introducing a new chocolate liqueur brand nationwide ahead of the holiday season, Dorda Double Chocolate Liqueur. Made from European chocolate and Chopin vodka, the new entry is 36 proof and retails at $27.99 a 750-ml. Chopin Vodka owner Tad Dorda decided to enter his namesake brand in the U.S. marketplace due to the increasing thirst for chocolate-based drinks, Chopin Imports control state manager John Solomon tells Shanken News Daily. Chopin Imports is the company Dorda formed to handle Chopin vodka in the U.S. in 2010, after he repurchased the brand from Moët Hennessy, which had acquired it in a deal completed in 2005.

•Anchor Distilling is adding the Hine Cognac brand to its U.S. import portfolio. Made exclusively from Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne grapes, Hine is known for its vintage Grande Champagne Cognacs. The line includes H By Hine, Rare VSOP, Homage, Triomphe and Antique XO 1er Cru Cognacs, among others. Anchor president David King told Shanken News Daily earlier this year the company’s mission is to become a one-stop artisanal spirits shop for independent-minded bars and restaurants in the U.S. With brands including the Glenrothes, BenRiach and GlenDronach single malts, Pink Pigeon rum and No. 3 gin, Anchor expects volume of around 70,000 cases this year.

BevMo has unveiled a trio of new units, including outposts in Seattle, Washington; Tracy, California; and Santa Maria, California. Located in the city’s Northgate area, the 10,750-square-foot Seattle store marks the retailer’s fifth location in Washington state. BevMo’s Tracy and Santa Maria stores, meanwhile, are listed at 9,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet, respectively. The new additions bring BevMo to a total of 130 stores across California, Arizona and Washington.

•In an unusual sale, hundreds of bottles of Chateau Trotanoy sourced directly from the Bordeaux landmark’s own cellars in Pomerol garnered big prices at a late October event in Chicago staged by auction house Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. Trotanoy owner Christian Moueix was in the auction room as his assemblage of wines (100% sold) fetched $238,000, well above a pre-sale estimate of $110,650 to $164,800. Top sellers included a six-liter Imperial of 1982 Trotanoy priced at $6,573 (including buyer’s commission), against an estimate of $2,600 to $3,800, and a 12-bottle case of 1998 Trotanoy that realized $6,573, again above the pre-sale estimate of $2,600 to $3,800. Bidders in the room at Chicago’s Tru restaurant were served 1982 Trotanoy throughout the event. Moueix said he had never before put up his own wines for auction. “In fact, I’ve never been to a wine auction in my life before,” he said. “I decided to do this for the fun, not the money.” Moueix is a longtime friend of Hart Davis’s chairman, John Hart. “I love John’s approach to auctions—it’s all about the wine, not the money,” said Moueix, who added that his celebrated 1982 Trotanoy “is still at its peak. It was so good as a young wine that people said it would not last. But it has. It could be just as good 10 years from now.”

•Diageo North America has completed a $50 million renovation of its Relay, Maryland-based production plant, which can now process and bottle approximately 11 million cases annually. The renovation, which began in March, included the installation of three new high speed bottling lines and upgrades to key production areas, as well as a new training and capability building for employees. David Cutter, president, Diageo Americas Supply, said the Relay renovation is part of a $250 million investment Diageo NA has made in its production network since 2010. With the upgrades complete, Relay will begin to take on bottling for Smirnoff vodka early next spring. It already processes and bottles the Jose Cuervo, Captain Morgan and Seagram’s brands, among others.

•Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Brothers unit is set to launch a new global marketing campaign for Beefeater gin, entitled “This Is My London.” The campaign aims to connect the brand and the spirit of the city, using three real London residents. It will begin this month with outdoor ads in Spain, with rollout in additional countries to follow. A new limited-edition bottle will also be introduced to global markets next year, the design of which will be crowd-sourced to consumers in London. Beefeater’s U.S. volume has been flat at around 510,000 cases the past two years, but Pernod says it made strong progress in the three months through September, its fiscal first quarter.

•Heineken USA is releasing limited edition seasonal Newcastle Winter IPA to national distribution. The newcomer, a 5.2%-abv British-style IPA made with Super Styrian and Styrian Goldings hops, will be on retail shelves in six-packs and 12-packs and on-draft now through January, priced in line with Newcastle Brown Ale.

•Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group has appointed Jeff Carcara as its COO. He comes to the company from Darden Restaurants, where he had served since 2004 as senior director of operations for the Seasons 52 restaurant chain. Prior to that, Carcara served as corporate director of food and beverage for the Kessler Collection Hotels and as general manager of the Houston’s restaurant brand, owned by Hillstone Restaurant Group. Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group is the owner and operator of the Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Sullivan’s Steakhouse and Del Frisco’s Grille dining concepts.

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