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News Briefs for August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

•Winemaker Paul Hobbs has partnered with French vintner Bertrand Vigouroux to launch a new Malbec from the Cahors region of southwest France. Named for the crocus flower, the pair’s Crocus Malbec de Cahors is made with a single Malbec clone sourced from three Vigouroux family properties in Cahors, which is Malbec’s historic home. Around 1,250 cases of Crocus Malbec de Cahors’ inaugural 2011 vintage are currently available in the U.S., retailing for around $45 a bottle. Paul Hobbs Imports (PHI) serves as Crocus’ exclusive importer.

•Safeway is extending its private-label wine partnership with Truett-Hurst with the addition of three new listings this September. Two of the new wines are being added to the existing Evocative Wrapped series. The first is Bewitched Reserve Pinot Noir, a Russian River Valley-sourced Pinot retailing at $45 a bottle. The second newcomer to the Evocative Wrapped series is Curious Beasts Chardonnay ($15). The existing Curious Beasts red has been the best-selling variant in the Evocative Wrapped line. Meanwhile, Safeway is also relaunching the Stonegate brand nationally. Stonegate Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from the Rutherford appellation, will retail in limited supply at $35. Earlier this year, Safeway agreed to merge with fellow grocery chain Albertsons in a $9 billion deal, creating a U.S. retail giant with more than 2,400 stores, second only to Kroger.

•O’Neill Vintners & Distillers has aligned with Young’s Market Co. in California to distribute its growing stable of wine brands. The O’Neill lineup includes Line 39, Camelot, Moscato Allegro, Austerity, Pepi, Redtree and Tin Roof, and accounts for more than a half-million cases in annual U.S. volume. O’Neill, formerly known as mainly a private-label and bulk wine producer, markedly expanded its branded business with the acquisition of Cecchetti Wine Co. in April.

•Beam Suntory’s Pinnacle vodka brand has extended its 40-plus flavor lineup with the launch of a new Amaretto expression. Featuring notes of almond, cherry and cocoa, Pinnacle Amaretto is currently available nationwide, priced at around $12.99 a 750-ml. The new addition comes on the heels of Pinnacle’s launch of a Cinnabon-flavored extension late last year. The sixth-largest vodka brand in the U.S., Pinnacle was up more than 10% in 2013, to 2.8 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Brazil’s Avuá Cachaça has released a new offering in its line of single-sourced, artisanal cachaça to the U.S. market, Avuá Cachaça Oak. Beginning in October, the pale yellow cachaça, aged for up to two years in French oak casks, will be available for about $49.99. Avuá Cachaça Oak, at 40%-abv, features vanilla and banana notes with floral flavors, the company says. Avuá Cachaça’s other products include the unaged Avuá Cachaça Prata and Avuá Cachaça Amburana, aged in Amburana wood. Avuá Cachaça launched in the U.S. in 2013 and is self-imported by Avuá Imports based in New York.

•Dolph Parro has been named executive vice president of RNDC Louisiana, with responsibility for the strategic leadership and direction of the RNDC business in the state. Parro, who joined RNDC as Alliance marketing director for Texas in 2011, was most recently vice president of wine for RNDC North Texas. Prior to joining the company, Parro held key roles in Louisiana and Texas with Glazer’s and E&J Gallo.

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