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News Briefs for February 26, 2015

February 26, 2015

•Robert Parker has announced that he will cease reviewing Bordeaux en primeur wines beginning with the 2014 vintage. On his website, Parker said fellow Wine Advocate critic Neal Martin will handle Bordeaux en primeur wines henceforth. “As just part of the planned coverage for this year, Neal will review the 2014 en primeur releases from Bordeaux. Meanwhile, I plan to review the newly bottled 2012 vintage wines and produce a comprehensive 10-year retrospective on the incredible 2005 Bordeaux vintage,” Parker said. In December of 2012, Parker stepped down as editor-in-chief of the Wine Advocate, handing the reins to Lisa Perrotti-Brown, concurrent with selling a stake in the publication to three Singapore-based investors. “En primeur tastings have been an important and dramatic part of my professional life,” Parker said in his post. “I loved the anticipation and challenge of trying to analyze and evaluate a vintage and will undoubtedly miss it. But after 37 years of covering virtually every Bordeaux vintage since 1978, change is inevitable.”

•Germany’s Mast-Jägermeister has reported a 6% global volume decline for its namesake liqueur brand for 2014, to 87.1 million 70-cl. bottles (6.8m nine-liter cases), owing to challenging conditions in the U.S. market, where the brand is handled by Sidney Frank Importing Co. Jägermeister performed well in Germany and most international markets over the past year (about 80% of total sales come from exports). However, the company flagged “a significant decrease” in U.S. sales. “A huge number of new products, extremely aggressive pricing by competitors and changing consumer trends have resulted in a very difficult market environment,” in the States, Mast-Jägermeister said, adding that it intends to invest more than €20 million ($23m) in production and bottling facilities over the next three years.

•Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) reported total revenue growth of 5.9% to $47 billion in 2014, while total volumes increased 0.6% to 458.8 million hectoliters. Total U.S. volume for ABI slipped 1.4% to 112 million hectoliters for the full year, while revenue inched up 0.3% to $14.1 billion, although the company’s stateside performance picked up in the fourth quarter, when volumes and revenue rose 0.2% and 2.2% respectively. ABI said it saw “good momentum” from Bud Light to finish out the year, with the brand’s sales to retailers easing to a 1.1% decline in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Michelob Ultra and ABI’s higher-end brands delivered strong share growth, while Budweiser continued to struggle. The brewer also said its board had approved a share buyback program for $1 billion to be conducted over this year.

•Napa Valley’s Silver Trident Winery has named Shane Soldinger as vice president of sales. A certified sommelier, Soldinger was most recently director of direct-to-consumer sales and marketing at Napa’s Crocker & Starr Winery, and also has served as general manager of Cosentino Winery in Yountville. Silver Trident, which produces 1,800 cases annually, was founded by Bob Binder—who is also co-founder of Oceania Cruises—and advertising and media executive Walter Jost.

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