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News Briefs for December 5, 2012

December 5, 2012

•Champagne shipments fell 5% over the first nine months of 2012, according to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), and, even with a healthy holiday season, likely will not increase for the full year. In the U.S., Champagne imports over the first nine months were roughly even with last year’s tally over the same period, but shipments to France (-6.3%) and the rest of the European Union (-10.4%) have slumped. Unlike other luxury categories like Scotch and Cognac, Champagne isn’t yet benefiting from the rising consumer class in Asia (Asia currently accounts for only 5% of Champagne shipments). While Champagne stocks remain robust at around 83 million cases, producers have been raising prices by mid-single digits this year on average. With a short harvest this year (around 30% of the 2012 crop was destroyed by heavy rains and mildew), more price hikes could follow in 2013.

•Kobrand Corp. is set to introduce Friuli producer Fernando Pighin & Figli’s Sauvignon Blanc to the U.S. market. The nationwide launch will begin with the 2011 vintage ($16.99 a 750-ml.). The Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of two clones, 70% Rauscedo 3 and 30% Clone 108, of Sancerre origin and produced without malolactic fermentation or oak contact. Kobrand already imports two of Fernando Pighin & Figli’s Pinot Grigios.

•Sotheby’s has reported sales of $2.6 million at its latest New York auction, entitled Finest & Rarest Wines Featuring Treasures Direct From The House of Krug. Held on December 1, the sale was 93% sold by lot and 97% sold by value. Highlights included 12 bottles of Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 (sold for $147,000), six bottles of Romanée Conti 1995 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti ($79,625) and 12 bottles of La Tâche 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti ($67,375). The Krug portion of the auction, meanwhile, was 100% sold and accounted for approximately $782,000 in sales. Sotheby’s next auction—Magnificent Bordeaux from a European Cellar—will be held in Hong Kong on December 7.

Anheuser-Busch has announced a number of changes in senior level marketing positions, effective February 4. Mike Sundet, currently vice president of Bud Light, will become vice president of sports and entertainment marketing and ad production services. Sundet will report directly to Blaise D’Sylva, vice president of media, sports and entertainment marketing. Rob McCarthy, the current vice president of Budweiser, will move to the position of vice president of Bud Light. Julia Mize, meanwhile, will move to the newly created role of vice president of experiential marketing, while continuing her current responsibilities of leading consumer brewery experiences.

•The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) has named Dr. Sam Zakhari to head up its Office of Scientific Affairs, a division spearheading a new DISCUS moderation campaign. Zakhari, a biomedical scientist with over 40 years of research experience, is a former director at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA). The new DISCUS moderation effort includes public service announcements and outreach programs targeting health professionals and public officials, as well as a new web site (www.drinkinmoderation.org), a podcast and a Facebook page.

•Dining and entertainment chain Dave & Buster’s has opened a new 45,000-square-foot flagship unit, the design of which will be incorporated into existing and future outposts. The new flagship is located in Dallas and features an expanded sports bar area, including a large, two-sided bar that has 16 flat-screen televisions, table and booth seating, and a viewing and dining area to the side of the bar with projection televisions for sports games. 60-unit Dave & Buster’s has already expanded the new bar design to 10 locations, with 20 more planned.

•64-unit Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar has partnered with Napa Valley’s Hall Winery to release the restaurant brand’s newest vintage of its boutique private label wine, Forty-Six Diamonds. The 2009 Forty-Six Diamonds Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a Bordeaux-style blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, 12% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, and is now available at every Fleming’s restaurant across the U.S. Beginning with the 2004 vintage, Fleming’s has collaborated with wineries each year to create new vintages of the limited-edition Forty-Six Diamonds label, working with such winemakers as Michael Mondavi and Rob Mondavi, Jr. of Napa, and Georges Duboeuf and Franck Duboeuf of Beaujolais, among others.


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