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News Briefs for November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014

•Accolade Wines has entered talks to acquire Australia’s Grant Burge Wines. Based in the Barossa Valley, Grant Burge is a fifth-generation family-owned winery whose history dates to 1855. Accolade, whose brands include Geyser Peak, XYZin, Atlas Peak, Hardys and others, is controlled by Australia-based CHAMP private equity. The news of the group’s interest in Grant Burge comes after another Australian wine industry consolidation play—Casella Wines’ announcement last week that it would acquire Peter Lehmann Wines for around $50 million.

•New York restaurateur David Burke has opened a sprawling new restaurant in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg called Grillhouse by David Burke. For Burke, who recently left his operating role at the David Burke Group (he retains 50% ownership there), Grillhouse is the first property of the freshly-established Chew On This Enterprises LLC that will become Burke’s latest development vehicle, with another restaurant due to open in the Hotel Indigo in Chicago’s Loop within a year and more locations planned in New Jersey and New York soon after that. Grillhouse has more than 450 seats within a 22,000-square-foot space that features a farm-to-table menu as well as a 120-bottle wine list expected to double in size soon. Beverage director Tim Sandow oversees a 600-bottle cellar that’s also expected to double in size by next year, with an average bottle sale at $100 thus far. There’s also an 80-label whiskies list topped by The Macallan 21-year-old Scotch priced at $50 for a 2-ounce pour. Sandow is sourcing local wines from Lynfred Winery as well as products from Midwestern distilleries including Koval, North Shore and Death’s Door—in addition to beers from such local craft houses as Buckle Down Brewery and Off Color Brewing.

•AB InBev is reportedly set to extend its Bud Light brand in the U.S. with Mixx Tail, a new cocktail-beer hybrid. According to Ad Age, the Mixx Tail lineup is modeled after AB InBev’s existing Quilmes brand of cocktail-like brews, which is currently marketed in Argentina. Available next spring, the Mixx Tail brand could include Hurricane, Firewalker and Long Island Ice Tea flavors, although AB InBev declined to confirm those details. Mixx Tail’s reported rollout follows the success of AB InBev’s Margarita-inspired Bud Light Rita range, whose core Lime-A-Rita and Straw-Ber-Rita expressions sold 10.5 million and 11.5 million (2.25-gallon) cases in the U.S. last year, respectively. Meanwhile, AB InBev recently announced plans to launch Oculto, a new 6%-abv Tequila-inspired beer, next year.

•Two franchised Hofbrauhaus brewery, restaurant and beer hall units opened recently in Ohio. The new locations in Cleveland and Columbus—modeled after the famed Munich brewery and beer garden—join existing locations in Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Newport, Kentucky. In addition to traditional German dishes, the venues offer specialty cocktails featuring spirits like Jagermeister and Barenjager, and produce Hofbrauhaus beers under license, including Lager, Hefe Weizen, Dunkel and seasonal variants. With the exception of the Las Vegas unit, each of the six franchised restaurants offer outdoor beer gardens.

•Diageo and partner Sean Combs will launch a new advertising campaign behind the Cîroc vodka brand this week, Adweek reports. Titled “Step Into the Circle,” the new push will run across TV, digital and out-of-home. Combs said that Cîroc’s fresh positioning, which focuses on Combs and his close circle of friends, is more millennial-driven and inclusive than the brand’s previous “Luck Be a Lady” ads. Cîroc’s U.S. volume rose 8.5% to 1.9 million cases in calendar 2013, according to Impact Databank—having nearly tripled since 2010—but, with pricing pressure remaining intense in the vodka category, Diageo reported that the brand’s net sales slipped 3% in the U.S. in the 12 months through June, despite a solid performance from its Amaretto flavor.

•Whisky Advocate’s upcoming Winter issue—set to hit newsstands early next month—contains its largest Buying Guide to date, encompassing 157 rated products from across the whisky galaxy. The magazine’s website has a sneak preview—detailing the top 10 scoring whiskies featured in the Winter issue.


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