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News Briefs for September 19, 2018

September 19, 2018

•Denny Potter has been named master distiller and general manager for Beam Suntory-owned Bourbon producer Maker’s Mark.Potter, who was most recently vice president of operations at Heaven Hill, previously spent 10 years at Maker’s Mark. In the master distiller role, Potter replaces Greg Davis, who’s taking on a new position as director of distillation at Jim Beam’s Clermont and Boston, Kentucky plants. Meanwhile, Maker’s vice president of operations and plant manager, Victoria MacRae-Samuels, will transition to the role of senior director, global quality for Beam Suntory.

•Diageo has announced its full Special Release Collection whiskies for 2018. As it did last year, the company kept details of one of the ten whiskies under wraps for several months. Last year’s surprise whisky was Collectivum XXVIII, a blended malt containing whiskies from all 28 of Diageo’s malt distilleries. In 2018, it’s another blended malt called Cladach, which means “shoreline” in Scots Gaelic. The whiskies in the blend come from Diageo’s coastal distilleries: Caol Ila and Lagavulin (Islay), Clynelish and Oban (Highlands), Inchgower (Speyside), and Talisker (Islands). Like Collectivum, Cladach will not be available in the U.S. Whisky Advocate has more.

•China is hitting U.S. wines with an additional 10% tariff in response to a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports levied by the U.S. administration. The new tariffs are less than the 25% that Beijing threatened last month, but they come on top of an additional 15% levy this past April. They will take effect September 24. So far, U.S. wine exports to China have held up despite the tariff battle between the two countries, with shipments up 14% to $38.4 billion in the six months through June.

•Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. held its largest wine auction ever last weekend, raking in $16.7 million against presale estimates of $10.6 million-$15.9 million. The top lot at the 100%-sold, three-day auction was a six-magnum set of 1996 Montrachet, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which brought in $113,525 against a presale estimate of $60,000-90,000. Other highlights included a 12-bottle set of 1991 Musigny, Domaine Leroy sold for $107,550, and a six-magnum set of 1991 Chambertin, Clos de Bèze, Armand Rousseau, also sold for $107,550. HDH’s next sale will be a two-day mobile-only auction on October 11 and 12.

•Campania, Italy’s Villa Matilde has named Kobrand as its exclusive U.S. importer, effectively immediately. The Italian producer makes wines from native varietals like Piedirosso and Falanghina, and has worked to return previously forgotten grapes to prominence. Villa Matilde’s wines retail from $15-$49. Kobrand’s portfolio also includes Cakebread Cellars, Champagne Taittinger, Maison Louis Jadot, Taylor Fladgate, and Delamain Cognac, among others.

•J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines has promoted Steve Peck to director of winemaking. Peck, who was most recently winemaker, red wines, has been with J. Lohr since 2007. In his new role, he’ll oversee the winemaking program at the company’s Paso Robles and Monterey County wineries. Peck succeeds Jeff Meier, who has been president, COO, and director of winemaking at J. Lohr since 2013. Meier will now relinquish winemaking duties to focus on his role as president and COO. J. Lohr’s namesake brand was up 2.2% to 1.5 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Vinexpo will be held May 13-16, 2019 in Bordeaux, France, and the show has unveiled a number of new initiatives. A new facility will replace Hall 2 in time for the 2019 show, and Hall 1 will gradually be renovated over the next several years. In addition, the exhibition will hold a new event called “Symposium Vinexpo,” which will focus on challenges facing the industry. This year’s topic will be the impact of climate change. In another new initiative, visitors will sample a selection of the show’s international wines and spirits at La Grande Dégustation, a tasting event to be held at the Palais de la Bourse on the night before the show that will be open to the public. Another event called Les Diners du Palais will be held at the Palais de la Bourse May 13-14 and will enable exhibitors to invite guests to taste wines paired with a dinner menu designed by a Michelin-starred chef. Over 40,000 trade visitors from 150 countries are expected to attend next year’s Vinexpo in Bordeaux. Vinexpo stages events in Bordeaux, Hong Kong, and New York, in addition to a new show in Paris to be held in January 2020. It’s also holding a Vinexpo Explorer event in Sonoma from September 23-25.


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