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News Briefs for December 19, 2018

December 19, 2018

•Cigar Aficionado’s countdown of the top cigars of 2018 continues today with the unveiling of the year’s No.-4, -3, and -2. Tomorrow, the magazine will reveal its Cigar of the Year, followed by Friday’s publication of the full list of the Top 25 Cigars of 2018.

•Both Washington and Oregon vintners weathered a hot, dry summer in 2018, and even drifting smoke from wildfires in other regions. But timely rains and cooler temperatures in early fall led to lovely fruit and potentially great wines. Wine Spectator has a full report on the Pacific Northwest’s 2018 wine harvest.

•Breakthru Beverage Group and Sazerac have expanded their partnership in Pennsylvania. Under a new deal that will become effective in February, Breakthru will add Sazerac’s direct distribution brands portfolio to its Pennsylvania portfolio, including Buffalo Trace, Dr. McGillicuddy’s, Fireball, Pappy Van Winkle, Sazerac, and Wheatley vodka, among others. Breakthru had Pennsylvania revenues of $215 million last year, according to Shanken’s Impact Newsletter. This past April Breakthru agreed to acquire Pennsylvania broker Majestic Wine & Spirits for an undisclosed sum, bolstering its coverage in the Keystone State.

•On the strength of a massive weekend sale that netted $11.4 million, Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. (HDH) is reporting that its 2018 auction volumes soared 39% to a record $67.9 million, making it the No.-1 seller of fine wine at auction in the U.S., a title it has held since 2010. The company also reported a 100% sell-through rate, meaning that not a single lot went unsold all year long. CEO Paul Hart said: “The fine wine market is strong and growing.” The weekend auction exceeded pre-sale estimates of $7.5 million to $11.2 million for 3,377 lots. Burgundy was the star, with highlights including a six-bottle lot of 1995 Romanée-Conti, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which brought $95,000 (the pre-sale estimate had been $60,000-$90,000), and six bottles of 2015 DRC La Tâche, which sold for $45,410, versus a pre-sale estimate of $17,000-$26,000. From California, a half-dozen bottles of Harlan Estate Red Wine brought $10,157, outdistancing the pre-sale estimate of $4,500-$6,500.

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