New Products & Promotions: November 2011 Edition

Posted on | November 22, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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In time for the holidays, Mwitu, a new South African wine brand, is releasing its line of wines across the U.S. “Mwitu,” which means “wild” in Swahili, comes from the Western Cape—one of South Africa’s most popular growing regions. The range includes Pinotage, Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage- Shiraz. SRP: $9.99


Cipressi is a new line of fresh and easydrinking wines available in 1.5L bottles. Winemaker Andrea Beconcini made a floral Pinot Grigio from Umbria and a silky, rich Sangiovese from Puglia as the first releases from Cipressi’s winery in Tuscany. Cipressi is part of the Bronco Wine Co. portfolio owned by the Franzia Family. Cipressi is marketed nationally by Domaine Napa Wine Company.



L’Escargot Sauvignon Blanc from the Côtes de Gascogne region of France is the first brand being launched by Lewin Brand Group—available in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida for the holiday season. The fresh, intensely fruity Sauvignon Blanc was designated Best Sauvignon Blanc at the 2011 National Vin de Pays competition. SRP: $13.99


Capturing the fresh, crisp and delicately sweet flavors of Midwestern apples, Beanblossom Hard Ciders come in Peach, Strawberry and Raspberry. The 500ml, environmentally friendly aluminum bottles have whimsical artwork and allow for quick chilling. Seasonal flavors are coming soon as well, with current distribution in almost 10 states and national distribution planned. SRP: $4.99


Winemaker Bernard Portet and partner Don Chase have launched Heritance—the first Napa Valley wine brand from their newly formed Polaris Wines LLC. The first releases are a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $18) and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $28). Both Napa Valley wines showcase Portet’s affinity for assemblage, a skill he ably demonstrated for 35 years as co-founder and winemaker of Clos du Val. The wines are currently distributed in 15 states.


Spicebox Canadian Spiced Whisky pays tribute to the Prohibition era, when bootleggers ran contraband liquor across the border, often in crates marked as “spices.” This smooth 100% spiced rye whisky is blended from three-to six-year-old Canadian whiskies and has notes of pepper and fruit. A coldextraction process keeps the flavors of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper vibrant. SRP: $22.99


For the limited-release Johnnie Walker Double Black, master blender Jim Beveridge has amplified the characteristic smokiness of JWB for a richer, more intense whisky experience. The blend for Johnnie Walker Double Black comes from select single malts, some from remote distilleries on Scotland’s west coast. SRP: $40


Fat Cat Cellars, the fun and approachable brand known for its velvety varietal wines, has added a new cat to the lineup. Fat Cat Moscato comes to the party with a fusion of bright, fruity, sweet flavors and a pleasing finish. Fat Cat is part of the Bronco Wine Company portfolio of wines owned by the Fred Franzia Family, which has been in the wine business for more than 110 years. Fat Cat is marketed by Antares Wine Co.



To celebrate the 70th year since Don Julio González began making tequila, the brand introduces Don Julio 70, the first Añejo Claro. Don Julio 70 is distilled twice and aged in American oak for 18 months. It is then filtered to impart the fresh tastes more often found in blanco tequila. SRP: $70


Ole Smoky Moonshine, Tennessee’s first legal moonshine, recently became available nationwide. In addition to 100-proof Ole Smoky Original Moonshine, line extensions include Moonshine Cherries and Apple Pie Moonshine—all packaged in 750ml homey mason jars. SRP: from $23.99-$29.99


Cocktail enthusiasts are already familiar with Angostura Bitters; now they can get to know Angostura Rums. The International Range offers Reserva, a light to medium-bodied rum; 5 Year Old, which has notes of burnt caramel and fruitiness; and 7 Year Old, a dark rum with hints of burnt spice. SRP Reserva: $16.99; SRP 5 Year Old: $18.99; SRP 7 Year Old: $20.99


Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur has unveiled new premium packaging. The new bottle is taller, and the reworked lettering and brand logo now feature a more realistic expression of a bear and hunter. The beehive-shaped top, formerly neutral-colored, is now black with gold lettering and a red beehive seal at the neck to reinforce the product’s use of pure honey. SRP: $27.99



The tenth expression of Birthday Bourbon has been released, commemorating the birthday of George Garvin Brown, founder of Brown-Forman and Old Forester. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is handcrafted by master distiller Chris Morris and vintage-dated, so this limited edition can never be duplicated. The decanter-style package is reminiscent of the first bottles of Old Forester from the 19th century. $49.99

Wine Buzz: November 2011 Edition

Posted on | November 21, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Named after the speed of cool marine wind that blasts through the vineyards during the hottest hours of the day, 24 Knots is a new Pinot Noir from Monterey County. Created in partnership with Scheid Vineyards, 24 Knots is crafted from fruit grown in the Viento, Riverview and Scheid Vineyards. By the time the wind approaches these vineyards, it reaches a velocity of 30 miles per hour, or 24 knots. The cool wind slows the sugar ripening process, allowing tannins to soften before harvest. Available nationwide for $16.99, 24 Knots Pinot Noir 2009 expresses its birthplace in both style and structure.


Established in 1882, Rioja Vega is one of the oldest wineries in the Rioja region. Recently introduced to the U.S. market by Constellation Wines U.S., the 2009 Rioja Vega Tempranillo is made from 90 percent Tempranillo and 10 percent Garnacha with minimal oak aging and a suggested retail price of $11.99. “The consumer demand for a quality Spanish wine at an approachable price in a vibrant, fruit forward style was unmistakable,” said Rebecca Stead, Marketing Manager for Rioja Vega.


Amberhill Wines has just released two new wines: the 2010 Amberhill Secret Blend Red and Secret Blend White. Though the precise percentage are not revealed, the grapes are playfully revealed upside-down on the back label. (Red is Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Malbec; white is Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato.) Both California crafted in a fruit-forward style (SRP: $9.99). Up nearly 14% in 2010, red wine blends represent the U.S.’s fastest-growing wine category.


Temps de Flors, now available in the U.S., translates to “the time of flowers” and shares the moniker with the famous flower festival north of Barcelona which inspired the spirit of this wine from the nearby winemaking region of Penedès. The wine is made by the Sumarroca Winery, best-known for their sparkling wines, or Cavas. A blend of three grapes, Muscat, Xarello and Gewürztraminer, the 2010 Temps de Flors is available for $13.99.


In partnership with famed French vintner, Michel Chapoutier, Terlato Wines has introduced Marius, a new wine project from the Languedoc region. Named for Chapoutier’s greatgrandfather, the Marius wines are aimed at “adventurous Millennials.” Marius Red, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, and Marius White (Terret and Vermentino), will be available nationally beginning December, for approximately $12.99.


Root:1 has added a 2009 Pinot Noir from Chile’s cool climate Casablanca Valley to its lineup. Like all the brand’s wines, it’s grown on pure, ungrafted roots and hails from vineyards located less than 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Available nationwide, Root: 1 Pinot Noir will retail for approximately $13.99.


This white-hot Moscato grape is apparently getting mobilized, with the launch of Moscato Nation, a web-based organization aiming to unite people who enjoy a glass of Moscato, making it easy to find wineries who make Moscato and offering a platform to celebrate the grape. The group’s website, which adopts a hip-hoppish tone, invites both consumers and producers to join. Founding member wineries are all California-based (Benessere Vineyards, Bronco Wine Company, Moscato Allegro, Quady Winery) but Italian Moscato-makers and French/Australian Muscat-eers are encouraged as well.

That’s Not a Bomb, That’s a Bottle of Bourbon

Posted on | November 21, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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In Europe, a push to end airport restrictions on liquids

Source: Bloomberg

by Julie Bykowicz

If you dream of the day when you’ll once again breeze through airport security with your Head & Shoulders and anti-itch cream safely tucked away in a carry-on instead of a Ziploc bag for all the world to see, take note: Help is on the way. In Europe, airlines and groups representing airport shops and restaurants are agitating for advanced security scanners that can sniff out liquid explosives inside luggage. In theory, that means travelers would be free to bring water bottles, booze, and full-sized toiletries aboard-without having to open their bags for screening-since the devices could tell the difference between a canister of liquid explosives and that bottle of Chanel No. 5 you think you got a deal on at the duty-free shop. There is only thing that could spoil this idyllic scene-no such machine exists.

Americans have largely met each new airport security rule with a sigh of acquiescence. Not so in Europe, where politicians have been deluged with complaints from Duty Free shop owners who say they’re losing sales on perfumes and liquor, and angry passengers who’ve had their belongings confiscated by security guards. The EU’s governing body has given airports until Apr. 29, 2013, to install scanners that will ease restrictions on liquids at European airports without compromising security. There are already machines that can detect liquid explosives as long as they aren’t buried inside luggage. Those would be fine under the EU’s new rule; but the air travel industry is keeping up pressure for more sophisticated scanners. The hope is that by the time the rule takes effect, technology that can pick out harmful substances inside carry-on bags will be ready. At least, “that’s what a lot of the airport operators are holding out for,” says Ben Vogel, editor of Jane’s Airport Review magazine in London.

Several companies are competing to capture the $1.4 billion potential market for the machines. At the moment, the closest thing is made by Safran’s Morpho unit, but the current model is too big to fit inside an airport checkpoint. The Paris-based company is working on a scaled-down version it aims to test in a European airport late next year. Other manufacturers, including Rapiscan Systems (OSIS), based in California, and Smiths Group in London, are racing to build similar machines. “Trying to put liquids and electronics back in the bag is very much what we’re working on now,” says Peter Kant, executive vice-president at Rapiscan, which produces more than half the scanners at U.S. airports.

Washington is watching closely. Transportation Security Administration officials have coveted in-luggage liquid scanners ever since militants botched a 2006 attempt to blow up airliners using explosives made with hydrogen peroxide, which led to the current rules. Michael P. Jackson, who was deputy secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Dept. at the time of the foiled plot, believed the technology was “imminent” when he left in October 2007. Now president of the security firm Firebreak Partners, Jackson says the machines have been slow in coming because manufacturers haven’t had the financial incentive to make them. U.S. travelers haven’t pressured the TSA to allow more liquids on planes in part because they’ve become so accustomed to airport restrictions, he says.

In September, Jackson suggested the U.S. government fund a contest, giving a prize to the manufacturer that can develop an in-bag liquids detector, a development he said would “revolutionize” air travel. TSA spokesman Greg Soule says the agency has spent $178 million on advanced technology X-ray machines at 97 out of 450 U.S. airports. Those machines can be upgraded to perform in-bag liquids detection once software is ready, Soule says. It’s not known how far off that may be.

European travelers may have to live with a compromise: They’ll be allowed to bring larger bottles on board but will still have to remove them from their bags for inspection. Not good enough, says the air travel industry. “We don’t want travelers to be sorting things out like they’re doing laundry,” says Perry Flint, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Assn., whose members include American Airlines (AMR) and Delta Air Lines (DAL). Airport shops claim they lose 16¢ for each minute a passenger is idling in a checkpoint line instead of buying gum, magazines, and bottles of scotch. Jackson says the EU might have to push back enforcement of the new rule if the scanners aren’t ready for market in time. “Deadlines that impose solutions that don’t exist,” he says, “are just aspirational.”

The Find: November 2011 Edition

Posted on | November 15, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Pendleton Whisky—the official spirit of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association—has launched Pendleton 1910, a rare 100% Canadian rye whisky set apart by its 12-year aging process. Ronald Dodge, president and CEO of Hood River Distillers, calls the spirit exceptionally fullbodied yet smooth. The unique package features the famous Pendleton Round-Up bucking horse and is embossed around the entire bottle with detailing reminiscent of the tooling on a saddle. Design firm Flowdesign also utilized neck and shoulder shapes from the core brand, but with a taller bottle. SRP: $39.95


On the heels of the successful Quarter Cask,Laphroaig is releasing its new Triple Wood expression, another darker and richer departure from the brand’s classic peaty signature taste profile. For Triple Wood, the whisky follows the same process as Quarter Cask (after years of aging in used bourbon barrels, the whisky is finished for eight months in small casks, which results in more oaky sweet flavors), but is then put in Oloroso Sherry casks for an additional two years. “It harkens back to the early 1900s, pre- Prohibition whisky production in Scotland,” says Simon Brooking, Laphroaig’s brand ambassador. Triple Wood is a rounder, slightly sweeter and more approachable whisky; easier to enjoy for those not familiar with Islay whiskies. SRP: $60


Vodka shelves are crowded, no doubt. Double Cross stands apart for both what’s in the bottle and the bottle itself. Distilled under the direction of master distiller Jan Krak in a 13th-century village located in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia, each batch is seven-times distilled and seven-times filtered. Available for the holidays in a special gift pack with two logo glasses for SRP $39.99.


Russian Standard Vodka, Russia’s leading premium vodka brand, has launched Russian Standard Gold in the U.S. Naturally it features dramatic packaging—sporting embossed gold foil and housed in an upright gift box—but the vodka itself is also distinguished, featuring hints of spice, vanilla and cinnamon that make it best consumed neat, as a chilled shot or on the rocks. Distilled and bottled at the company’s state-of-the-art facility in St. Petersburg, Russian Standard Gold is made with hand-selected Russian winter wheat and a touch of ginseng; inspired by the recipe developed by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, inventor of the periodic table of elements. It is also four-times distilled and charcoal-filtered for smoothness and purity. SRP $45


Cyrus Noble was a favorite bourbon of miners and mayors during the boom years of California’s Gold Rush. More than 140 years after its introduction, San Francisco-based Haas Brothers has revived Cyrus Noble for a new generation of bourbon enthusiasts. The libation was named after a prosperous distiller-turned-icon who fell into a vat of his own whiskey. The reincarnation is a 90-proof bourbon aged five years in American white oak barrels. SRP: $25.99

New Study Says Screwcaps Are the New Norm

Posted on | November 15, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Source: Decanter

by Richard Woodard

Monday 14 November 2011

Acceptance of screwcaps on wine bottles has more than doubled among UK consumers over the past eight years, according to new research.

The survey, conducted by research company Wine Intelligence for its 2011 Closures Report, suggests that 85% of the regular wine-drinking population now accepts screwcaps – compared to only 41% in 2003.

Cork remains the most liked closure, but affinity levels have fallen slightly over the past eight years.

While 51% of consumers say they actively like buying wines under cork, 42% like buying screwcapped wines – a figure that has increased sevenfold compared to eight years ago, when 6% of consumers said they actively liked screwcap.

Female wine drinkers in their 30s and 40s are the biggest drivers of screwcap acceptance, along with younger drinkers who have recently entered the wine category.

‘This year’s consumer view on closures suggests that the UK has fundamentally changed over the past eight years,’ said Richard Halstead, Wine Intelligence COO and author of the report.

‘From a market that was actively sceptical – in some cases hostile – towards screwcaps, we now have a situation where they are the norm rather than the exception.’

The research was based on online quota-based surveys of 1,000 adults who drink wine at least once a month, conducted in March 2011.

The full Closures Report also includes similar analysis of closure perceptions in the US and Australia, including data going back to 2007.

Pennsylvania: Should Liquor Sales Be Privatized, asks Pennsylvanians Concerned about Alcohol Problems

Posted on | November 10, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Source: PR Newswire

The following is a statement from Don H. Wert, Executive Director of Pennsylvanians Concerned about Alcohol Problems:

Recently Governor Thomas Corbett announced that an independent study reported that if the state were to sell off the state store system to private operators the state of Pennsylvania would realize an estimated one and half billion dollars. The governor and some legislators see this move as a way to get some quick cash for a state budget that is seriously under-funded. Sounds good, or does it? When we look under the surface of just getting quick cash we can see some serious concerns with this privatization of the liquor sales in Pennsylvania. Whenever we are about to completely change something it is always good to take a look at why the original system was put in to place.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board was formed by Gov. Gifford Pinchot in 1933 as the official state agency to control the sale of alcohol in Pennsylvania. Gov. Pinchot stated the purpose of the PLCB was to “discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” Why did Gov. Pinchot make this statement? Because he understood that alcohol was a dangerous beverage that had the potential to cause much harm. Has alcohol now become less dangerous? Not at all! Alcohol is a poison and can kill when consumed in large quantities. (Amy Winehouse is a recent example) When any amount of consumption takes place the individual drinking the alcohol will begin to experience a loss of physical coordination and a decease in the ability to make good decisions.

Some people argue that it is a legal right for adults over the age of twenty one to consume alcoholic drinks. This is correct, but the fact still remains that alcohol is a dangerous drug when consumed in large quantities or used by young people under the age of twenty one. Consider the following facts. First, almost everyday our local newspapers contain news articles about some car accident involving alcohol, or a domestic dispute fueled by alcohol, or a rape or murder involving alcohol, or a report on underage drinking or binge drinking on a college campus. If you disagree with my comment then try reading your local newspaper on a daily basis and see if you can find many days when there is not some report involving alcohol! If you still disagree with me then go and talk with any state or local police officer and ask them how often alcohol is involved in their investigations. Secondly, teenage drivers are responsible for a disproportionate amount of car accidents. Statistically, one quarter or 25% of teen accidents are caused because of the use of alcohol. Alcohol use is the leading drug problem among youth in the United States. A third statistic is that DUIs or driving under the influence of alcohol are reaching an epidemic level. The Lancaster New Era, which is my local newspaper, recently reported that DUI cases are flooding county courtrooms. I quote from their article, “On an average day in Lancaster County, five people are charged with driving under the influence. Someone died here every other week last year, on average, in a DUI-related crash, according to police statistics.” The problems related to alcohol use are not decreasing but increasing.

Considering the facts, does it make sense to privatize the sale of alcohol in a time when alcohol problems are increasing dramatically? The answer is no! We still need close control over the selling of alcohol. Our current state store system is not perfect but it is better then allowing all types of commercial stores to sell alcohol. Rep. Mike Turzai, the PA House Majority Leader, speaking at a “talk back” town hall session in Lititz, Pa., said that he was working on legislation that would allow for the creation of at least some 1200 licenses to sell alcoholic beverages in our state. Currently we have about 600 such state stores. Does it make sense to double the amount of outlets considering the potential problems that such a move would make? No!

Washington: Liquor board, retailers gear up to implement I-1183

Posted on | November 10, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Source: Seattle Times

By Melissa Allison

People who make a living selling liquor scrambled Wednesday to grasp how voters’ resounding approval of Initiative 1183 will affect them, while a Northwest grocery-industry representative speculated about alcohol deregulation spreading to other states.

The passage of I-1183 means the state will stop selling liquor by June 1, when grocery stores will begin legally selling spirits for the first time since Prohibition began. The initiative received 60 percent of the statewide vote.

Everyone from wine-shop owners to distillers to grocery chains is gearing up for big change.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, which will lay off more than 900 people in the coming months, said in a statement that it’s disappointed the measure passed.

“Weighing most heavily on our hearts and minds are the more than 900 Liquor Control Board employees who will lose their jobs,” the liquor board said. “Despite operating under a microscope, they have carried out their responsibilities with dignity and professionalism.”

Most of those people work in the state’s liquor stores and Seattle distribution center. Their pay ranges from $11.35 an hour for entry-level clerks to $21.50 an hour for the highest-paid store managers.

The liquor board said it plans to concentrate on sales through the holidays and will shift in January to divesting its distribution center and retail stores.

It also plans to work on enforcement of liquor laws, including those that prohibit sales to minors. State stores have a 94 percent compliance rate for not selling alcohol to minors, compared with 77 percent for the private sector, which includes retailers selling wine and beer and restaurants selling all forms of alcohol.

Safeway plans to sell liquor in all of its 155 groceries in Washington, a spokeswoman said. Trader Joe’s intends to sell it in most of its 18 stores statewide, a spokeswoman said.

Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale, which gave a record $22.5 million to the campaign, did not respond to requests for comment on expectations for its 27 stores in Washington, or when it might start selling its private-label Kirkland Signature liquor here.

Flush with the campaign victory, the grocery industry is gearing up for deregulation talks in other states.

Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association, said Wednesday he expects industry leaders to begin talks in the coming months with liquor regulators and lawmakers in Oregon and Idaho. He thinks industry organizers might be successful in legislatures, meaning ballot efforts in those states might not be necessary.

Meanwhile, Washington’s current liquor industry is bubbling with fear and possibility.

Aside from the state workers who know they will lose their jobs by June, there are more than 100 entrepreneurs who contract with the state to sell liquor.

I-1183 allows them to continue operating, but many are not sure they can afford to buy their liquor inventory from the state – or whether the investment would be worth it, given the new competition they will face from groceries.

The average contract liquor store has $125,000 in inventory, the liquor board said.

“We don’t know, we truly don’t know,” said Karen Lindskog, who opened a contract liquor store in 2009 on Vashon Island with her business partner, Cherry Morgan.

She said she plans to talk to Vashon’s grocery-store owners and others about whether they are going to apply for liquor licenses. Their answers will help determine whether she mortgages her house or the building the liquor store is in for money to buy the liquor inventory, she said.

“Even if we can get our hands on the thousands of dollars it would take to stay in business here, would it be a viable business?”

Tara Thomas opened a contract liquor store in Renton over the summer. She said she is working at least 80 hours a week between the store and her customer-service job at United Airlines – her fallback plan in case she closes the store.

“I figured even if the initiative wins, I’ll still have the experience of opening a liquor store and learning to manage a business, and that can go on my résumé,” she said.

Thomas’ store is in the same shopping center as a QFC, although she said her regular customers say they would continue to buy liquor from her.

“My rent is high, so I can’t afford any competition,” she said.

David LeClaire, who founded Wine World off Interstate 5 on Northeast 45th Street in Seattle last year, said he plans to be one of the region’s new competitors for liquor sales.

Wine World is one of the few wine stores large enough to sell liquor in Washington under I-1183, which requires stores to measure at least 10,000 square feet.

“We’re first in line, and we’ve had distilleries calling us,” LeClaire said.

“It’ll hurt prices on the mass-produced brands,” he said, including wine and liquor, but Wine World specializes in something Costco does not – variety.

Still, LeClaire said he had not wanted I-1183 to pass. He thinks its deregulation of pricing and distribution will hurt small players.

One distillery that called Wine World on Wednesday was Oola Distillery on Capitol Hill.

I-1183′s passage comes at a tricky time for Oola, which sells gin and vodka in a handful of state liquor stores but had planned to pitch the liquor board this week on a statewide rollout.

The liquor board canceled the meeting, because it has decided not to list any new products as it begins to divest, a liquor-board spokesman said.

“We’re stuck, and that aspect of our business is shut down,” said Brandon Gillespie, Oola’s managing director. “We can sell to consumers here [at the distillery], but how are we going to get product to cocktail bars, restaurants and retail establishments if the liquor control board is not going to be available to purchase that product?”

Pedro’s Martinez

Posted on | November 8, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Bryan Schneider is a barman at MONKEY BAR, NEW YORK, NY

A play on the classic Martinez cocktail, which calls for gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters, Pedro’s version swaps the traditional gin for rum—specifically Brugal’s smooth new 1888 release— and calls for top-quality vermouth. The real kicker? “The maraschino is replaced by Pedro Ximenez sherry,” says Bryan Schneider, the recently installed barman at New York’s Monkey Bar, currently in the midst of an impressive overhaul with a new chef and sommelier—Belinda Chang—to boot. When Schneider tasted the 1888, he knew it would be a perfect fit for the drink. “It’s aged in sherry casks,” he points out, “which complements the Pedro Ximenez nicely.” And, the Brugal also adds cultural context: “It’s an homage to former Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez, who is from the Dominican Republic. Brugal being a Dominican rum makes it that much more appropriate.”

1½ oz. Brugal 1888 Rum
¾ oz. Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
¼ oz. Barbadillo Pedro Ximenez Sherry
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.

The Connection: November 2011 Edition

Posted on | November 4, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Morgan Winery Debuts New Website

Morgan Winery recently launched its completely redesigned website, which now offers better access for trade with a one-stop “shop” for distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and press on all things Morgan. The new site emphasizes the brand’s three-decade history of creating award-winning wines in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands region. The expanded Trade section allows wholesale partners to instantly download and print tech sheets, shelf talkers, maps, logos and bottle shots.

AG Wines for iPhone and iPad

Approach Guides Wine, created by Jennifer and David Raezer, offers a contentdriven approach to making informed wine-buying decisions. In addition to directto- consumer uses, professionally AG Wines for iPhone and iPad can be used for both staff training and rebranding. The easy-to-use interface provides staff with easy access to information on wine regions, grapes, appellations and vintages country-by-country. AG Wines can also be rebranded by incorporating an organization’s logo, branding and messaging—and the best part is that AG Wines maintains the app with updated content.

Diageo Forms Multimillion Dollar Partnership With Facebook

Beverage alcohol companies continue to seek new avenues to expand their consumer base, and to that end Diageo has recently partnered with Facebook. In exchange for receiving early access to new features and consultancy for online campaign improvement, Diageo has pledged to spend over $10 million for on-site ads. Nielsen research has already shown that certain Facebook campaigns have driven brand sales off-line. It’s a new frontier for beverage alcohol as more are connected than ever before.

Pernod Ricard and Evite adults Team Up for Cocktail Central

Just for the holidays—the biggest party season of the year—Pernod Ricard has paired with Evite, the invitation and social planning site with over 22 million registered users, to launch Cocktail Central. When a host creates a 21+ invitation using one of 24 themes, they are able to access Cocktail Central for tips, tools, drink recipes and even savings. Hosts can poll attendees on most-wanted cocktails, calculate how much product to buy for the number of guests and keep track of a shopping list.

ToutSuite Social Club

ToutSuite seeks to change the way that consumersand brands interact—by integrating e-commerce, social media and video into an online membership/ social commerce community. ToutSuite engages niche product brand-makers with consumer trendsetters. For brands, the interactive platform allows for indirect product placement and intimate access between brand representatives and consumers. Accessible from anywhere there’s wi-fi, this salon-style experience is a way to connect brands with consumers in the Digital Age.

Master Tongue-Twisting Wine Names

There are a lot of wine words that do not roll off the tongue with ease, but it’s important to be confident with pronunciation with consumers. Here to help is Palm Bay’s Audio Pronunciation Guide—which provides audio files to aid in pronouncing winery names, appellations and grape varieties. Soon, you’ll be saying “S.A. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeernauslese” with ease.

Adventure Time: As America’s Wine Scene Matures, Adventurous Whites Are Viable Options, Especially On-Premise

Posted on | November 4, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Not too long ago, it seemed as though the only non-traditional wines that got any traction were red. However, in recent years, several categories of white wines have been taken up not just by hardcore wine geeks in the trade, but also by substantial numbers of consumers. We talked to some tastemakers around the country regarding their views on some trailblazing whites to watch.




The recent ascent of Txakoli (also called Txacolina, and sometimes spelled Chakoli) is surprising on many levels. For one thing, it’s not exactly obvious how to pronounce it (CHA-ko-lee) or the similarly tongue-twisting names of the producers. Secondly, it is from the Basque region of Spain, not an area known for either global outreach or wine marketing savvy. Further, the wine lacks the overt fruit profile that draws so many Americans to blockbusters such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Lastly, the spritzy white is made from a blend of unfamiliar native Basque grapes (Hondarrabi Zuri and friends.)

So, with so much stacked against it, how has Txakoli broken through? In a nutshell, it is a superlative food-pairing partner. The explosion of sympatico tapas bars around the country has allowed consumers to try the wine without committing to a bottle. It has also introduced consumers to Txakoli’s ability to complement a variety of flavorful dishes.

Moreover, the trade has taken up the banner and marched it forward with gusto. Leslie Sbrocco, an influential author and TV personality, is one such proselytizer. She says, “Its lemony freshness is ideal for tapas and Spanish fare, but sip broader. From goat cheese-dolloped salads to soft shell crab, vegetable curry to chicken burritos, its ping of acidity and hint of salinity, makes pairing it easier than pronouncing it.”

Greek Whites

With the rise of high-end Greek restaurants around the country has come heightened appreciation for Greek wines of all types. And, of course, fond vacation memories of sitting on a Greek beach don’t hurt the wines’ popularity either. Pungent, piney Retsina has pretty much faded from the current Greek wine scene. More common are high-end, small-production wines brought in by specialty importers as well as some of the larger distributors.

Aldo Sohm, of Le Bernardin, says, “We offered the Thalassitis Santorini by the glass for quite a while and with quite some success. I think Assyrtico [grapes] from Santorini can create quite classy, mineral-driven wines which offer value and also work with seafood incredibly well.”

Virginia Philips MS also finds Assyrtiko to be very useful in the beverage program she runs at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach. She pours the Santorini from Estate Agyros, which she values for its “easy to drink character and distinct minerality, its racy acid, and of course it’s very unusual.”

In New York City, where Greek whites have been popular for several years, Michael Madrigale, of Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, finds consumers will venture beyond Santorini to Malagousia and Moschofilero; he values these varietal wines because they are fresher and have less alcohol than wines from Santorini.

Jura Whites

For the true trailblazer, whites from the little-known region of Jura in France present some striking new tastes. Many of these wines are made in an oxidative style, somewhat similar to Sherry, with aging taking place under a coating of yeast (referred to as sur voile). The native Savagnin grape creates big, flavorful wines with a texture similar to Chardonnay but with aromas more akin to a Marsanne-Roussanne Rhône blend.

Joe Campanale, beverage director and partner of dell’anima, L’Artusi and Anfora in Manhattan, notes, “The sur voile wines are definitely for the more adventurous customer and are well embraced by the industry. In general, Jura wines are quite good with food as they have moderate alcohols and umami flavors (mushroom, chicken stock, etc.). Also, the rather bright acid is refreshing and the wines tend to have a grippyness to them that pairs well with food.”

On the Front Lines

Any sommelier or wine retail salesperson can tell you that to most consumers, wines like these require a  hand sell. So, when Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc will sell themselves, why go the extra yard? Campanale, whose list includes wines from as far-flung places as Croatia and the Canary Islands, will tell you that adventurous wines “have a high level of uniqueness which makes them an exciting new taste experience.”

And that’s what today’s highly-involved wine consumers are after: They want something new and different that makes them feel like they’re on the cutting edge. And, who knows—perhaps they are signaling the beginning of a much larger trend. In a few years, who’s to say that Santorini won’t be more popular than Pinot Grigio?

Keepin’ it Real With Riesling

Some other observations from Evan Spingarn on dry Riesling, based on his experience in the NYC market:

“When I try to sell Riesling at certain stores, retailers express much less interest in dry versions than sweet. ‘My customers who ask for Riesling want sweet wine,’ they say. What this really means is that when their customers ask for sweet wine, the retailer wants an easy short-cut to identify which wine to put in their hands—and Riesling is the anointed wine that does the trick. Having a dry option would complicate the issue.”

“In the more visionary stores where lower-production wines are prized, food/wine pairings are exercised on the sales floor and a serious international approach to wine prevails, there is assumed a need for some dry Riesling on the shelf. However, since that need is comfortably filled by Austria and Alsace, the Germans are sometimes overlooked as also-rans. Again, it is easier here to sell trocken/halbtrocken/feinherb wines by price point than by sheer quality; wines that go over $25 price tend to be deemed unsaleable. There are exceptions, obviously—but that is the overall trend.”

“In a few shops, the grosses gewachs wines and other top dry Rieslings are saleable. Why? Only two reasons I can think of. 1) Because the shops have made a personal, somewhat masochistic commitment to pushing them. 2) They have a national clientele via email. That is the crucial difference.

In effect, these few shops own the high-end dry Riesling market.”

Summing up: “The smallest shops don’t understand or don’t bother; the mid-range, quality shops carry them but impose a price ceiling on them; and the best stores offer the whole spectrum, but almost completely to a select clientele online. That system will evolve positively, in large part because the wines are too good to ignore.”

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