Because the discussion of
“what’s hot” leaned toward
spirits, we also asked Cedric
Martin of Martin Wine Cellar,
who hosted the roundtable in
his Metairie store, to add his
perspective on the current
WHAT’S HOT NOW
Classics and Flavors Rule Spirits
We are seeing an
exceptional amount of locally produced
products. Spirits, wine and beer as well.
On the spirits side, if it’s local, it sells.
Even products that have very significant
bases. Tito’s Vodka, for example, is our
#1 scanning dollar volume item. It’s im-
portant to always take a look at what's
Some new category innovation is re-
ally working. Bulleit Rye is leading the
growth in the rye category for us. Crown
Royal Maple was just off the charts this
holiday season; that sweeter flavor pro-
file continues to be attractive. Jack Dan-
iel’s Honey continues to sell. So does
Fireball, a Sazerac product. In the Irish
category, Jameson leads the charge,
growing 20% annually in our organiza-
tion. Tried and true brands that have
some base in the whiskey category are
soild–Gentleman Jack, for example.
Flavored moonshine continues to grow,
after a strong holiday season. Base
moonshine, not so much. Another brand
that did well this holiday season was
RumChata. And as much as I hate to say
it, in the flavored vodka category there
continue to be pockets. Those require a
very aggressive category management
with the proliferation of all the flavors
and confections. You have to be careful
about how broad you go.
I think I look at new
products a little differently. I welcome
the innovation. Look at the brands you
sell which weren’t even in existence five
years ago. I used to have the attitude ‘If
I hear about another flavored vodka…’.
But the ones I wouldn’t have taken are
the hottest ones now. You do have to do
category management, but I’ll figure out
a way to get it in, because my customers
want to see the new products.
I think David hit
most of the hot items. RumChata, honey li-
queurs and flavored bourbons have taken
off. During the holiday season, trade-up
was definitely back in our market.
We took a big position
on the bourbons—flavored, cream and
straight. At first, we didn’t bring enough
in to make a statement, so they weren’t
selling. Once we started making a state-
ment, they did very well.
beer segment continues to proliferate
with the same issues that happen in spir-
its—there’s only so much shelf-space
and there’s scarcity. It’s interesting look-
ing at my cheat sheet and David’s. Rum-
Chata, moonshine, Moscatos, ciders….
What are all those? Sweet. It’s sweet we
keep going back to.
We’re spending a lot of
money to improve our store and it’s all
on spirits and craft beer. Are we following
the consumer vs leading the consumer?
There’s the challenge of space allocation,
and growth areas—we have to make
sure we’re focused on the right things.
MARTIN WINE CELLAR,
FOUR LOCATIONS IN LOUSIANA
To a large extent, I believe the hot wines today
are the ones you create hype about. I have found
that the excitement of the buyer and the sales
staff is what creates excitement for the customer.
We discover wine regions, invest and educate
our staff, then turn around to educate and excite
Our job is made a lot easier by the popularity
of certain wines and regions. We have always
been very successful with Bordeaux and Bur-
gundy. Bordeaux is still a bargain, where quality
petite château wines are going for under $12.
We implement aggressive programs for our sales
people to move through these cases.
Two regions that have jumped in popularity are
Italy and Spain. Good Italian restaurants are now all
over New Orleans, which really helps. So today it is
Vermentino, tomorrow it’s Fiano. Most importantly,
Italian wines have been consistently good since the
2006 vintage, and there are many small vintners
producing outstanding wines, such as Soave from
the hillside vineyards. In Spain, we have seen a
comeback of the whites including Albarino and
Verdejo. In reds, Reserva wines from Rioja retailing
for under $30 are very popular.
We have also seen Argentine wines hit
stride over the past few years, especially Malbec
and red blends that are very good and reason-
ably priced. We are selling the more expensive
Malbec wines, too. California continues to
maintain strength in our market in the $25-$65
range; Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc,
and, yes, Chardonnay still sells. Getting hotter:
white wines from the Loire Valley and the Cha-
blis region. Both are excellent values, but the
growth in Chablis has been surprising.
Spring is upon us, bringing the first wave
of delicious rosés made of diverse varieties
from regions all over France and from other
European countries such as Spain, Portugal and
Italy. Plus there are superb rosés being made
in California and Oregon. Rosé is back in a very