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News Briefs for March 10, 2015

March 10, 2015

•E.&J. Gallo has acquired exclusive rights to distribute Italy’s Pieropan wines in the U.S., effective May 9. Founded in 1880, family-owned Pieropan specializes in producing the traditional varieties of Soave. Under the new agreement, Gallo will handle the winery’s Soave Classico “La Rocca,” Soave Classico “Calvarino” and Pieropan Soave Classico labels (retailing between $20-$40) stateside. Pieropan joins Gallo’s recently-established Luxury Wine Group—also known as LUX Wines—alongside fellow Italian wine brands Allegrini and Poggio al Tesoro. The Pieropan portfolio was previously handled by Empson USA.

•Five days of fires raged across the Cape Peninsula in South Africa last week, threatening wineries and vineyards in the Cape Point and Constantia wine regions and destroying more than 12,000 acres of vegetation in Table Mountain National Park. Firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control with the help of winery workers, but not before it burned some vines and blanketed many more in smoke, right in the middle of harvest. Winemakers are worried about smoke taint in their wines, but are grateful no one was hurt. Wine Spectator has the full story.

•On-premise traffic rose 0.9% year-to-date through February 22, according to GuestMetrics, with casual dining up 1.9%, bars/clubs up 0.6% and fine dining down 0.1%. On-premise spirits volume grew 1% during the period, although it declined about 1% in the most recent four weeks, affected by a series of winter storms east of the Mississippi. Within spirits, Irish whiskey rose 12%, and Bourbon (+5%), Brandy/Cognac (+7%), Tequila (+5%) and gin (+1%) were also on the rise, while Scotch, vodka, Canadian whisky, rum and cordials all slipped. Meanwhile, wine sales are up 1.1% year-to-date and beer was down 2%, an improvement compared with a 3.4% decline during the same period a year ago.

•Brown-Forman’s Southern Comfort liqueur brand has officially launched its new Caramel Comfort offshoot. Featuring notes of caramel, vanilla and spice, the new 27.5%-abv entry is priced at $16.99 a 750-ml., and joins SoCo’s existing Special Reserve, 100 Proof, Bold Black Cherry and Lime extensions. Caramel Comfort’s launch comes on the heels of Southern Comfort’s recent packaging revamp, featuring an updated bottle shape and label design. The brand was down 3.3% to 1.75 million cases globally last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Daily’s frozen cocktail maker American Beverage Corporation has been sold to Greenwich, Connecticut private equity Brynwood Partners for about $55 million. Based in Verona, Pennsylvania, American Beverage—which had revenue of around $100 million in 2014—had been part of the Netherlands’ Wessanen, and also makes the Little Hugs juice brand. A former Impact “Hot Brand,” Daily’s was flat at 2 million (2.25-gallon) cases in 2013, after posting only a slight increase in 2012.

•M.S. Walker and MacDuff International have released Grand Macnish Six Cask Edition blended malt Scotch whisky in the U.S. market. The blend is a combination of six selected single malts representing each of Scotland’s whisky-producing regions—Highland, Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, Lowland and Islands—for a taste of “Scotland in bottle,” the company says. Macnish Six Cask Edition retails at $36.99 a 750-ml. Grand Macnish has been in continuous production since being founded in 1863 by Glasgow merchant Robert McNish.

•Southern Wine & Spirits has appointed Jim Miller as vice president, general manager for Delaware. Miller has been with Southern’s Delaware operation for 27 years, and was most recently vice president, general sales manager in the market. In his new role, he’ll report directly to Southern executive vice president and COO Brad Vassar.

•Republic National Distributing Co. (RNDC) has promoted Joel Polichene to state executive vice president of RNDC Maryland and District of Columbia, reporting directly to RNDC region president Tom White. Most recently, Polichene was executive vice president of RNDC District of Columbia. Prior to joining RNDC in 1992, he was Indiana state manager for E&J Gallo.

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