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News Briefs for September 10, 2018

September 10, 2018

•Moët Hennessy has linked with China’s Alibaba on a new strategic partnership. Under the agreement, consumers on Alibaba platforms like e-commerce site Tmall and supermarket chain Hema will gain exclusive benefits and priority access to new Moët Hennessy products. Moët Hennessy initially launched its flagship store on Tmall last year, and has used the format to market high-end, limited-edition items like Hennessy Beauté du Siècle Cognac (a bottle of which sold for $220,000 last July) and the recent VSOP Privilège. China is Moët Hennessy’s second-largest market after the U.S., and e-commerce is playing an increasing role in its business there. The gross merchandise volume of wine and spirits across Alibaba’s business neared $8.8 billion in 2017, and is forecasted to grow 20% this year.

•Wilson Daniels Wholesale will officially enter the Connecticut market in October. Wilson Daniels will distribute their 44 national brands in the market, including Schramsberg, Champagne Gosset, Château Gassier, and Domaine Laroche. The Connecticut division will be led locally by industry veteran and Connecticut native Michael Tobin, who comes to the company from importer and distributor Worldwide Wines. Connecticut joins New York, New Jersey, and Oregon in Wilson Daniels’ wholesale footprint. Wilson Daniels Wholesale is targeting revenues of about $45 million this year, up from $20 million in 2016. Wilson Daniels and Wilson Daniels Wholesale are subsidiaries of California-based Young’s Holdings, Inc., owned by the Underwood family.

•Trinchero Family Estates’ Ménage à Trois has expanded its red blend lineup with new Pinot Noir- and Merlot-based offerings. Billed as a darker, richer style of Pinot Noir, Luscious ($14 a 750-ml.) is a blend of 76% Pinot Noir, 13% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah, and 5% Zinfandel. Lavish Merlot ($12), meanwhile, is comprised of 81% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petite Sirah, and 5% Petit Verdot. Both wines are sourced from vineyards in California’s Central and North Coasts, and are currently rolling out nationwide. Ménage à Trois reached 2.9 million cases in the U.S. on 2.7% growth last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Seattle-based August Wine Group has added Italy’s Fantinel to its import portfolio. Based in Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Fantinel is a third-generation family-owned producer known for Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. The portfolio includes the Tenuta Sant’Helena, Borgo Tesis, and Fantinel Sparkling labels, with retail pricing ranging from $15-$30 a 750-ml. August Wine, whose brand stable also includes Bocelli, Fabre en Provence, Giocato, La Quercia, Sprizzerí, Navarro Correas, and Viña Ventisquero, has volume of about 200,000 cases.

•E. & J. Gallo’s Louis M. Martini has announced plans to restore its flagship winery. Architect Howard Backen of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects will lead the restoration of the 85-year-old Napa winery, with the goal of returning the building to its original form and removing non-historic additions made over the years. The newly restored winery, set to open in March 2019, will include 30-foot-high glass walls with views into the barrel cellar, as well as a demonstration dining room, private wine libraries, and an underground wine cellar. Louis M. Martini’s Monte Rosso tasting room will be open daily during the restoration process. Louis M. Martini sells 475,000 cases in the U.S. annually.

•Quintessential Brands Group has appointed Steve Ward as vice president, national accounts and control board sales for the U.S. Ward brings decades of experience to Quintessential, previously serving as vice president, division manager at Edrington Americas and vice president of sales at Heineken USA. In the past, Ward has worked on the successful U.S. launches of brands like Stella Artois, Dos Equis, and The Macallan Rare Cask. Quintessential Brands’ portfolio includes Bloom London Dry Gin, The Dubliner Irish Whiskey, and O’Mara’s Irish Country Cream, among others.

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