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News Briefs for January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013

Beam Inc. has sold a number of value brands to Luxco Inc., including Wolfschmidt vodka, Calvert (Lord Calvert Canadian, Calvert Extra and gin), Bellows (blended whiskey, Bourbon, gin, rum, Scotch and vodka), Dark Eyes vodka, Canada House Canadian and Tempo Triple Sec. The purchase price was $65 million. While the acquired brands had aggregate sales of nearly 2 million cases in 2012, their combined revenue was only around $30 million (excluding excise taxes), for an average of less than $1.50 a 750-ml. However, the new additions will considerably augment Luxco’s scale and portfolio depth. The St. Louis-based drinks marketer’s largely sub-premium lineup is currently led by Juarez Tequila, which sells around 600,000 cases annually in the U.S.

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) CEO Joe Conti will step down February 2 to pursue opportunities in higher education and the private sector. Conti, who has helmed the PLCB since 2006, led a reorganization and major rebranding initiative of the Pennsylvania wine and spirits monopoly during his tenure. A successor has yet to be named, but the PLCB says Conti will stay on temporarily to assist with the transition effort. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett is expected to unveil a new plan to privatize the PLCB within weeks, though similar previous efforts have failed in the state legislature.

MillerCoors’ sales to retailers were down 1.1% in the company’s third quarter ended December 31. Sales to wholesalers also declined, falling by 1.4% from the year-earlier period. Volumes of premium light brands were down low single digits—Miller Lite saw a mid-single-digit decline, while Coors Light posted low-single-digit growth. The company’s Tenth & Blake craft division continues to rise by double digits, led by Leinenkugel’s and Blue Moon. On a global basis, lager volumes for parent company SABMiller were up by 2% in the third quarter, led by Latin America (+6%), Africa (+4%) and Europe (+1%), but with a slight decline in the Asia Pacific region (-1%).

•Chile’s Lapostolle Winery has opened its second high-end culinary establishment (and first open to the general public), Casa Parrón. Headed by executive chef and residence manager Maricarmen Lecumberri, Casa Parrón offers traditional Chilean fare with a French twist, using local ingredients harvested from its own organic and biodynamic gardens and paired with Lapostolle wines. Founded by Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and her husband Cyril de Bournet in 1994, the Lapostolle winery produces the Casa, Canto de Apalta, Cuvée Alexandre, Borobo and Clos Apalta labels. With the opening of Casa Parrón, the winery will burnish its credentials as a vacation destination within Chile.

•Eataly has partnered with MSC Cruises to open two restaurants on the cruise line’s newest ship, the MSC Preziosa, which will be christened in March in Genoa, Italy. The 80-seat Eataly Restaurant will be a casual dining venue and Italian food and wine market mirroring Eataly’s original concept in Turin, Italy, while the 24-seat Ristorante Italia will be a fine-dining concept serving multi-course pairing menus nightly. There are currently several Eataly venues in Italy, Japan and the United States, with plans to expand to Dubai, Turkey, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

•Celebrity chef Guy Fieri has submitted an application to open a public wine tasting room and event space within an existing house on his five-acre vineyard of Pinot Noir grapes in the Russian River Valley. Fieri purchased the vineyard last year and has since sold his first vintage, 2012, to Jackson Family Wines for its La Crema label and to the Williams Selyem winery in Healdsburg, California. The application requests permission to build an Italian piazza, kitchen space and tasting room on the property to host 14 events a year for 100 or more attendees. All requests are subject to county approval, and county officials are currently awaiting study results of the impact the project will have on the quiet neighborhood before making its decision.

•Napa-based Old Bridge Cellars is expanding into Bordeaux with the introduction of Château de Sours to the U.S. market. Old Bridge has become the exclusive sales and marketing agent for the winery effective January 1. Château de Sours’ lineup features La Fleur d’Amelie Red ($15) and White ($15); Château de Sours Red ($20), White ($18) and Rosé ($18); Reserve de Sours Sparkling Rosé ($20); and La Source Red ($40) and White ($35). Château de Sours joins an Old Bridge portfolio that includes Australia’s Shoofly, Greywacke from New Zealand, Poggiotondo from Italy, France’s Chapoutier & Laughton, California’s Stickybeak and Oregon’s Joe Dobbes Wines, among others.

•Venice, Florida-based Indigo Wine Group is adding South African wine label Bouchard Finlayson to its stable. The Bouchard Finlayson line includes Blanc de Mer, Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Crocodile’s Lair Chardonnay, Galpin Peak Pinot Noir and a red blend, Hannibal. The winery, situated in the Hemel-en-Aarde area of Walker Bay, one of the coolest regions on the Cape, has garnered 19 90-plus scores from Wine Spectator.

Central European Distribution Corporation (CEDC) has appointed Ryan Lee as chief financial officer. Lee, who spent much of the past year as CFO of CEDC subsidiary Russian Alcohol Group, has more than 20 years of financial management experience, including 13 years in Russia. Both CEDC and Russian Alcohol Group have undergone management shuffles in recent weeks, after Russian mogul Roustam Tariko took control of CEDC just after New Year’s Day.


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