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News Briefs for September 21, 2017

September 21, 2017

•Convicted wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan’s last-gasp effort to challenge his conviction for wine counterfeiting has been shot down by the same federal court judge who presided over his eight-day trial in 2013. Forty months remain on Kurniawan’s prison sentence. A three-judge appellate panel had already denied Kurniawan’s previous appeal two years ago. Kurniawan then contended, in a habeas corpus petition filed in March 2017, in the original trial court, that one of his lawyers had not properly defended him during lengthy pre-trial proceedings in 2013. But in his ruling released this week, District Judge Richard Berman ruled that the experienced trial lawyer in question, Michael Proctor, had not been neglectful of his client’s defense. Wine Spectator has more.

•Beam Suntory has launched Little Book, the first blend of American whiskies created by Freddie Noe, son of current Beam master distiller Fred Noe. Little Book is a blend of 13-year-old corn whiskey, rye whiskey (nearly six years old), malt whiskey (nearly six years old) and four-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. The new entry is bottled at 64.1%-abv and will be released in limited quantities annually. It will roll out nationwide next month, retailing at $80 a bottle.

•New York-based importer Cape Classics has partnered with Bordeaux third growth Château Giscours to bring a pair of wines to the U.S. Giscours’ Petite Sirène Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2015 and Sauvignon-Sémillion 2016 will be available nationwide beginning in October, retailing at $19.99 a 750-ml. Cape Classics, which has moved aggressively into French wines in recent years, made its entry to the Bordeaux category via a partnership with Château du Raux earlier this year.

•New Jersey retail chain Gary’s Wine & Marketplace is expanding with a fifth location in Closter, New Jersey. The 8,400-square-foot store will carry over 2,700 wine, 700 spirit and 800 beer SKUs in addition to 150 cheeses. This year, Gary’s celebrated 30 years in business and appointed a new wine director, Brooke Sabel. Revenue for 2017 is expected to reach $56 million. The Closter location is set to open in November, joining existing Gary’s stores in Hillsborough, Wayne, Bernardsville and Madison, New Jersey.

•Glen Ellen, California’s Imagery Estate Winery has debuted a line of Sonoma Valley–sourced blends. Imagery’s new California Tier collection features four wines: a Sauvignon Blanc blended with 20% Muscat, a Chardonnay made with 5% Chenin Blanc, a Pinot Noir produced with 10% Petit Verdot and a Cabernet Sauvignon made with 15% Petite Sirah. All four blends are available nationwide, retailing at $19.99 a 750-ml. Imagery is owned by The Wine Group, which acquired the brand in 2015.

•Clase Azul Spirits has inked a new five-year distribution deal with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. Southern Glazer’s will handle the Clase Azul portfolio—which includes the Clase Azul Tequila, Clase Azul Mezcal and La Pinta Pomegranate Liqueur brands—across 41 states. The Clase Azul Tequila lineup includes Plata, Reposado and Añejo entries retailing from $66.99-$469.95, as well as a super-luxury Ultra label ($1,699). Clase Azul’s Mezcal and La Pinta liqueur, meanwhile are priced at $249 and $44, respectively.

•Quintessential Brands has named Philippe Roederer as commercial director for North America, as the company looks to expand its U.S. footprint. A 28-year drinks industry veteran, Roederer spent a decade with Veuve Clicquot, helped establish Voss water in the U.S. and was a senior vice president with Rémy Cointreau USA before starting his own consultancy in recent years. Founded by former Campari CEO Enzo Visone and investment banker Warren Scott, Quintessential’s portfolio includes Greenall’s gin and The Dubliner Irish whiskey among others.

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