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News Briefs for March 18, 2020

March 18, 2020

•Château Latour has postponed the planned release of its 2012 vintage, which was set to be the first release of its Grand Vin in eight years. The date had been set for today, March 18, with plans to offer the 2012 to a group of about 30 negoçiants. Latour left the en primeur system after the 2011 vintage, and has been holding back subsequent vintages of its Grand Vin in its cellars. Concurrently, the chateau said it’s also postponing the release of its 2014 Forts de Latour.

•Texas-based retail chain Spec’s Wine & Spirits has partnered with app developer Bottlecaps to build a mobile ordering platform for consumers. The app will give Spec’s customers the opportunity to schedule deliveries, order wine and spirits for pickup, access their reward program information, and check out sales. The app will initially launch in Houston and work with 11 Spec’s locations throughout that area before going statewide. Bottlecaps’ service will give Spec’s the ability to promote tastings, specials, and offer drink recipes all through a sales portal. Bottlecaps offers services in 42 states across the U.S.

•The U.S. hotel industry is sounding the alarm that it will need aid to get through the coronavirus crisis. Based on current occupancy estimates, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) says four million total jobs have been eliminated already or are on the verge of being lost in the next few weeks. In certain affected markets, including Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, and Boston, hotel occupancy rates are already down below 20% and individual hotels and major operators have already shut down operations. The AHLA and executives from several of the leading hotel operators met with President Trump and Vice President Pence yesterday at the White House to stress the severity of the situation and the need for an aid package.

•Beverage alcohol producers are shifting production capacity from their brands to ethyl alcohol to help supply hand sanitizer during the coronavirus crisis. Destilería Serrallés in Puerto Rico has put Don Q rum production on the backburner in order to supply hospitals and health providers with ethyl alcohol for free. Similarly, Pernod Ricard plans to use Absolut capacity to supply ethyl alcohol to Swedish authorities and LVMH has redirected its perfume and cosmetics divisions into production for French sanitation efforts. Finally, Finland’s state-owned beverage alcohol company, Altia, has pledged to work “around the clock” and expects to produce enough ethanol to make up to 200,000 half-liter bottles of hand sanitizer per day.

•Glen Rock, New Jersey-based Opici Wines has launched La Maison de Rose, a new brand of rosé sourced from Provence and available in cans. The wine is a blend of Grenache (80%) and Cinsault (20%) grown and vinified at Caves du Commandeur and named for Rose Opici, the family’s matriarch. The 250-ml. cans feature a bright floral design and point-of-sale and other marketing programs are accompanying the brand’s rollout. La Maison de Rose retails at $20 per 4-pack.

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