Liquor Industry News 6-3-13

Franklin Liquors


Monday June 3rd 2013

Biodynamic LEAF Morning BUT A FLOWER Night.

Great To Taste Or Drink Wine And Watch The Bruins


Beer: Nielsen C-Store Data Analysis: Beer Dollar Sales Continue to Decline (0.9% YoY) as Pricing Continues to Weigh on Volumes


Source: CITI

May 31st


Beer C-Store Dollar Sales Decline – In the four-week period ended May 11, 2013, c-store beer dollar sales fell 0.9% YoY (vs. -3.1% last period and +3.0% over the last 52 weeks) on a somewhat challenging YoY compare as dollar sales in the year-ago period were up 5.6%. The dollar sales decline was driven by a 3.5% decrease in volume sales (vs. -5.6% last period and -0.4% over the last 52 weeks) on a +2.3% comp, partially offset by a 2.6 pt contribution from price and mix (vs. +2.6 pts last period and +3.4 pts over the last 52 weeks). We note that across the major manufacturers, price gap management remains a key focus, as the companies that took less pricing than the category average largely posted outsized or improved volume growth.


MillerCoors Remains Challenged – TAP’s MillerCoors JV posted a 4.0% volume decline in the period (vs. -5.7% last period and -1.1% over the last 52 weeks), despite an easy comp as volume sales were down 0.7% in the year-ago period. As such, the company’s volume share was down 0.2 pts (after having been flat or up in each of the prior three months). Meanwhile, dollar sales were down 2.5% YoY (vs. -4.2% last period and +1.3% over the last 52 weeks), as the company saw a 1.5 pt benefit from price/mix (vs. 1.5 pts last period and 2.4 pts over the last 52 weeks).


Crown Imports Continues to Outperform – STZ’s Crown Imports JV continued its relative outperformance, posting dollar sales growth of 11.9% YoY (vs. +8.7% last period and +12.6% over the last 52 weeks). Volumes were the key driver once again, +12.1% in thee period (vs. +7.3% last period and +11.8% over the last 52 weeks), as Crown saw a modest 0.3 pt drag from price/mix (vs. a 1.4 pt benefit last period and a 0.8 pt benefit over the last 52 weeks). Going forward, we’ll continue to monitor the margins for the Crown Imports business (as we believe growth is primarily being driven by the lower-priced Modelo Especial brand), as well as the company’s price gap management (given our belief that Crown’s falling price gap has been a key driver of market share gains).


Boston Beer’s Growth Continues to Accelerate – SAM saw its dollar sales accelerate for the second consecutive period, to +14.0% YoY (vs. +10.3% last period and +14.9% over the last 52 weeks). The company’s dollar sales growth in the period was driven almost entirely by a 13.9% YoY increase in volumes (vs. +9.6% last period and +13.0% over the last 52 weeks), as price/mix acted as a 0.1 pt benefit (vs. 0.7 pts last period and 1.9 pts over the last 52 weeks). Looking ahead, SAM will continue to face challenging dollar sales growth and volume sales growth comps (in the HSD to LDD range) over the remainder of 2013, such that we will be interested to see whether the company can maintain low-double-digit growth.




Nielsen C-store: MNST slows partly on tough comp; TAP still soft


Source: Goldman Sachs

May 31st


Energy drink category slows to +4.3%; MNST ekes out small share gain

Nielsen convenience store data for the four weeks ended 5/11/13 showed energy drink category sales up 4.3%, a deceleration from 8.9% last period. This was predominantly volume based as price/mix was +0.3% in the month. MNST’s sales growth also slowed, with +5.1% this month versus +10.1% last month. Comps for the category and MNST were tougher this period than last month, but the data was still softer than expected. Recall also that MNST indicated that its sales growth in Nielsen c-store data for the 4-weeks ending 4/27/13 was +6.5%. July comp remains tough at 28% but we still expect MNST’s sales growth to accelerate to double-digits in the back-half of the year as comparisons ease. Red Bull remained the primary share gainer but saw its sales slow to +9.7% from +16.6% last month. Rockstar remained a significant share donor with sales down 3.8%.


Beer category still off to a tough start in 2013, but sales improve from last month due to an easier compare

Beer sales were down 0.9% which was an improvement from -3.1% last month, although it appears all of that was due to an easier comparison (+5.6% last year this month vs. +8.2% the prior month). Price/mix remains solid at +2.6% this month, but volumes have been weak and have averaged -2.8% year to date. We continue to see a bi-furcation in growth with premium and sub-premium sales down 4-6% while above premium grows MSD-HSD.


TAP sales decline 2.5% as mainstream beer still struggling

It’s been a tough start to 2013 for mainstream beer as TAP and ABI portfolios were down 4% and 4.9%, respectively, in this period. The two big companies continue to take 1-2% pricing while the above premium pricing has remained flat for the most part. Tough compares, the payroll tax impact, poor weather and divergent pricing with the high end all appear to be making for a challenging 2013 so far for TAP and ABI.


High end beer continues growth momentum

Both Crown Imports and SAM had their beer portfolio sales up double digits this month with Crown +11.9% and SAM +14%. Each had no price/mix in the period. Both are an acceleration over last month, but are both exactly in line with their 52wk growth rate.




Constellation and Crown Mull Craft Investments


Source: Brewbound

by Max Rothman

May 31st

Following the agreement between Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) and the U.S. Department of Justice, as the dust settled and the components were parceled, Constellation Brands secured a coup of its own.


While ABI bought the stake in Grupo Modelo that it didn’t already own for $20.1 billion, Constellation bought the 50 percent of Modelo brands sold in the U.S. by Crown Imports, a leading importer of Corona, that it didn’t already own for $2.9 billion. This also gave Constellation the rights to Modelo’s brewery in Piedras Negras, Mexico.


This coup shifted the landscape for Constellation and its subsidiary and venture partner, Crown, enabling the companies to explore and possibly invest in the still-growing craft beer industry.


“It opens the horizon,” Crown president Bill Hackett said of the agreement. “We are completely unshackled.”


Right on cue, less than one week after the settlement, Jeff Menashe, CEO of the Demeter Group, a San Francisco-based investment bank, assembled a presentation for Constellation titled Why Craft Beer is Next. The presentation explained how the Modelo deal could transform Constellation’s future and lead the company and its investors toward craft beer.


Menashe believes that investors have reached a greater level of comfort with the craft beer industry because it’s further proven itself in the marketplace by displaying consistent years of growth.


“Craft has become big enough and it’s not looking as though there’s any reason for it to sort of fall from that position,” Menashe said.


The presentation noted that over the past year, Constellation’s 123 wine brands and seven spirits brands pulled in $2.8 billion in revenue, while Crown’s four beer brands, highlighted by Corona, pulled in $2.6 billion. This imbalance explains the power of beer’s revenue and the potential need for more beer brands. The presentation also noted that unlike the craft beer industry, the current depth of the wine market leaves little space for growth. Menashe doesn’t see any extra space for premium glass, super premium and ultra premium wine brands.


Yet despite their divergent growth rates, Menashe mentioned several similarities between the two segments; both come at a premium price, appeal to millennials, focus on style and depend on a back story. This story can talk about the ingredients, the geographical association or the brand personality, but no matter the details, it steadily aims to give the brand a human dimension.


As wine’s growth subsides and craft beer’s growth continues to increase, the similarities between these segments could smooth Constellation’s transition to craft beer, according to Menashe.


“I think that the craft and those wine brands I’m referring to are tracking or are trying to speak to the same consumer,” he said.


Hackett said that he’s constantly talking with craft brands, and while he hasn’t yet struck a deal, he envisions significant moves in the near future. He also said that Crown’s 15 warehouses across the country and advanced distribution system will allow whatever brand it picks up to reach the right markets at a quick rate.


“I think we’re just on the cusp of expanding our business,” Hackett said.




Edrington Group trials flavoured Famous Grouse variants (Excerpt)


Source: Just-Drinks

By Ian Buxton

31 May 2013


The Edrington Group has completed what it describes as a “research exercise” with flavoured variants of The Famous Grouse blended Scotch whisky.


The Famous Grouse Citrus, Vanilla and Spice were tested in 1 litre packages at 35% abv through Swedish retailer, retailing at SEK206 (US$ 31.16), just-drinks understands.




Coming soon? Nutritional labels on alcohol (Additional Coverage)


Source: USA Today

Mary Clare Jalonick

June 1, 2013


Alcohol beverages soon could have nutritional labels like those on food packaging, but only if the producers want to put them there.


The Treasury Department, which regulates alcohol, said this past week that beer, wine and spirits companies can use labels that include serving size, servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving. Such package labels have never before been approved.


The labels are voluntary, so it will be up to beverage companies to decide whether to use them on their products.


The decision is a temporary, first step while the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB) continues to consider final rules on alcohol labels. Rules proposed in 2007 would have made labels mandatory, but the agency never made the rules final.


The labeling regulation, issued May 28, comes after a decade of lobbying by hard liquor companies and consumer groups, with clearly different goals.


The liquor companies want to advertise low calories and low carbohydrates in their products. Consumer groups want alcoholic drinks to have the same transparency as packaged foods, which are required to be labeled.


“This is actually bringing alcoholic beverages into the modern era,” says Guy Smith, an executive vice president at Diageo, the world’s largest distiller and maker of such well-known brands as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Jose Cuervo and Tanqueray.


Diageo asked the bureau in 2003 to allow the company to add that information to its products as low-carbohydrate diets were gaining in popularity.


Almost 10 years later, Smith said he expects Diageo gradually to put the new labels on all of its products, which include a small number of beer and wine companies.


“It’s something consumers have come to expect,” Smith said. “In time, it’s going to be, why isn’t it there?”


Not all alcohol companies are expected to use labels. Among those that may take a pass are beer companies, which don’t want consumers counting calories, and winemakers, which don’t want to ruin the sleek look of their bottles.


The Wine Institute, which represents more than a thousand California wineries, said in a statement that it supports the ruling but “experience suggests that such information is not a key factor in consumer purchase decisions about wine.”


Spokeswoman Gladys Horiuchi said the group knows of no wine companies that plan to use the new labels.


The beer industry praised the agency for acknowledging that labels should take into account variations in the concentration of alcohol content in different products.


The industry has opposed the idea of defining serving size by fluid ounces of pure alcohol – or as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor – on the grounds that you may get more than 1.5 ounces of liquor in a cocktail depending on what else is in the drink and the accuracy of the bartender.


The ruling would allow the labels to declare alcohol content as a percentage of alcohol by volume, the approach favored by the beer industry.


“We applaud the TTB’s conclusion that rules be based on how drinks are actually served and consumed,” said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute.


McClain said the beer industry is pleased that the ruling provides “substantial flexibility” in terms of the format and placement of the disclosure on packaging.


It is unclear whether beer companies will actually use the labels, however.


Consumer advocates criticized the regulation.


“It doesn’t reflect any concern about public health,” said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He said the rules are too close to what the alcohol companies had sought.


Consumer advocates have said that listing alcohol content should be mandatory so consumers know how much they are drinking. Jacobson and others also support having calorie counts on labels, but they said the labels should not include nutrients that make the alcohol seem more like a food.


“Including fat and carbohydrates on a label could imply that an alcoholic beverage is positively healthful, especially when the drink’s alcohol content isn’t prominently labeled,” Jacobson said.


Current labeling law is complicated.


Wines containing 14% or more alcohol by volume must list alcohol content. Wines that are 7% to 14% alcohol by volume may list alcohol content or put “light” or “table” wine on the label. “Light” beers must list calorie and carbohydrate content only. Liquor must list alcohol content by volume and may also list proof, a measure of alcoholic strength.


Wine, beer and liquor manufacturers don’t have to list ingredients but must list substances people might be sensitive to, such as sulfites, certain food colorings and aspartame.


Tom Hogue of the TTB said the aim of the ruling is to make sure alcohol labeling is more consistent. “The idea here is we are trying to make it easy for the industry to communicate this with consumers if they want to do so, and if their consumers want them to do it,” he said.




United Breweries net profit falls 19.6% in March quarter


United Breweries reports a 7% increase in sales, helped by higher demand for its Kingfisher beer


Source: Livemint

Mihir Dalal

Thu, May 30 2013


United Breweries Ltd (UBL), the beer-making business of Vijay Mallya’s UB group, reported a 7% increase in sales to Rs.1,003.62 crore for the March quarter, helped by higher demand for its Kingfisher beer.

Net profit for the quarter ended 31 March fell 19.6% to Rs.5.85 crore, but the company said that results of the two periods are not directly comparable as some UB businesses were merged into UBL in the 2011-2012 financial year.


UBL has led the rebound in beer sales in India after high prices hurt demand in the year ended March 2012. In the last financial year, most brewers including SABMiller and Carlsberg reported strong numbers helped by demand for strong brews-beer with alcohol content of over 5%.


UBL shares fell 1.67% to Rs.736 on Thursday on the BSE. The benchmark index rose 0.34% to 20,215.40 points. The results were announced after market hours.


“The fourth-quarter results are not comparable but the full-year Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and ammortization) margins got a boost from lower bottling costs. They have made investments in bottling and it’s paying off,” said Sunita Sachdev, analyst at UBS Securities.


Over the past few years, UBL has been investing on patenting its bottles, which helps the company control bottling costs since only UB can reuse them.




US consumers cut spending 0.2 percent in April after income fails to grow


Source: Washington Post

By Associated Press

Published: May 31


Americans cut back on spending in April after their income failed to grow, a sign that economic growth may be slowing.


Consumer spending dropped a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in April, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was the first decline since last May. It followed a 0.1 percent increase in March and a 0.8 percent jump in February.


A drop in gas prices likely lowered overall spending. Adjusted for inflation, spending ticked up 0.1 percent last month. Still, that was the smallest gain since October.


Consumers also likely spent less to heat their homes last month, which may have reduced spending on utilities. April’s weather was mild after an unusually cold March.


Income was unchanged last month, after a 0.3 percent rise in March and 1.2 percent gain in February. Wages and salaries barely grew, while government benefit payments fell.


The retrenchment in spending indicates consumers may be starting to feel the impact of higher taxes. But a separate report Friday showed consumer confidence rose to a six-year high in May, suggesting the decline in spending may be temporary.


Americans are taking home less pay this year because of a 2 percentage point increase in Social Security taxes. A person earning $50,000 a year has about $1,000 less to spend this year. A household with two high-paid workers has up to $4,500 less.


Income taxes on the wealthiest Americans also increased.


Consumer spending drives 70 percent of economic activity. It grew at the fastest pace in more than two years from January through March, helping the economy expand at a 2.4 annual rate during that quarter.


Economists said the latest spending figures suggest growth may be slowing in the April-June quarter to around a 2 percent rate. But most still expect growth to improve slightly after that as the impact of tax hikes and government spending cuts fades.


“Overall, a sobering report for those expecting … growth to accelerate sharply,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “There will be some modest pickup in the second half of the year, as the fiscal drag starts to ease, but we expect the improvement to be very gradual rather than dramatic.”


Slower growth could lead the Federal Reserve to delay any scaling back in its bond purchases, which are keeping borrowing costs low.


Investors had been speculating that the Fed would start to slow its purchases in the next few months. That’s led to a spike in Treasury yields and higher interest rates.


Low inflation could also lead the Fed to continue its bond purchases.


The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, which is updated as part of the consumer spending report, showed that prices fell 0.3 percent in April and increased just 0.7 percent in the past 12 months.


Still, economists say the Fed’s stimulus is most tied to the health of the job market, which has improved in recent months.


Employers have added an average of 208,000 jobs a month since November. That’s well above the monthly average of 138,000 during the previous six months.


Greater hiring is among several trends that could partly offset the impact of the tax increases and revive spending later this year.


Consumer confidence surged in April to a five-year high, according to the Conference Board, as Americans’ outlook on the job market improved. And on Friday, the University of Michigan’s survey showed consumer sentiment rose this month to its highest level since July 2007.


Home prices have surged 11 percent over the past year. Rising home tend to make homeowners feel wealthier and more likely to shop. Some economists estimate that for every dollar increase in home values, consumer spending can rise as much as 10 cents.




Wells Fargo’s Weekly Economic & Financial Commentary


Source: Wells Fargo

May 31st



.         Consumer confidence is at its highest level since the recession, spurred by negligible inflation, a stronger stock market, and continued job growth.

.         However, consumer spending pulled back slightly in April.

.         1Q13 GDP was revised lower, with reductions in government spending subtracting more from headline growth than originally estimated.

.         Consumer spending and business investment were both stronger than initially reported, suggesting ongoing economic expansion.

.         The newest data supports the thesis of a recovering housing market, as both home prices and pending home sales moved higher.



.         Switzerland and Sweden surprised economists with stronger than expected 1Q13 GDP results.

.         Unfortunately, fixed business investment declined and businesses remain cautious regarding the Eurozone’s economic outlook.

.         While Brazil’s economy continues to struggle, inflation concerns have forced the central bank to increase the policy rate.

.         India’s economic growth has slowed, as the country struggles to generate growth without substantial inflation.

.         Despite expansionary efforts by the BOJ, inflation remains below 1.0% in Japan.

.         However, the economy does seem to be responding, as industrial production in April was stronger than expected.




Handbag war escalates as LVMH accuses Hermès of ‘smear campaign’


Source: FT

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu in Paris

May 31st


LVMH accused Hermès of waging a relentless “smear campaign” against the world’s largest luxury goods group by sales on Friday, as the handbag war between two of France’s most well-known companies intensified during a public hearing.


LVMH, which is headed by Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man, asked for the stock exchange investigation into its 2010 build-up of a 17 per cent stake in Hermès to be nullified, claiming there had been procedural irregularities that did not allow it to mount a fair defence.


“The procedure should be dismissed?.?.?.?There are serious violations to the presumption of innocence, in the impartiality of investigators,” Georges Terrier, LVMH’s lawyer, said at Friday’s public hearing by the regulator’s sanctions committee.


He was flanked by Pierre Godé, Mr Arnault’s right-hand man and LVMH’s deputy chairman. “We have the greatest respect for the house of Hermès. But its managers have for more than two years led a smear campaign against LVMH and slander that is very detrimental to the image and reputation of LVMH,” Mr Godé said. Hermès denies the allegations.


Hermès, which is family controlled but publicly quoted, views LVMH’s stakebuilding as an “attack”. LVMH used equity swaps to amass a 17 per cent stake, which it announced suddenly in October 2010, saying its intentions were friendly.


The Autorité des Marchés Financiers, the regulator, dismissed LVMH’s allegations, saying its inquiry had been “scrupulously conducted”. It also said that the lack of transparency was so serious that it called for the maximum ?10m fine against LVMH.


The inquiry had found that LVMH violated stock exchange rules on disclosure, a finding the sanctions committee – an independent body – will decide whether to uphold and whether to impose financial penalties.


It is the first time that LVMH has been accused of stock market violations. According to the conclusions of the watchdog’s inquiry, the luxury goods group should have declared its speculation on Hermès shares four months earlier than its October 2010 statement.


The markets watchdog also alleges that LVMH planned a financial operation against Hermès, which could have affected Hermès’ share price.


For its part, LVMH accused the AMF of having shifted the parameters of its inquiry and preventing the luxury company from seeing documents that it said were crucial to its defence.


The sanctions committee will give its decision this summer. But whatever the regulatory outcome, the bitter fight between the maker of Louis Vuitton bags and Hermès, creator of the Kelly and Birkin bags, is set to continue in the courts, where Hermès has lodged a separate legal complaint against LVMH.


In the complaint, which is being examined by investigating magistrates, Hermès alleges insider trading and manipulation of its share price against LVMH. A counter-complaint has been filed by LVMH for “slander, blackmail and unfair competition”.


Patrick Thomas, chief executive of Hermès, has said the silk scarves group wants LVMH to reduce its shareholding or sell out altogether in order to expand the company’s free float – currently less than 5 per cent.


The Hermès family owns 72 per cent of the shares and is largely protected from a hostile takeover through its limited partnership structure. Nevertheless, Hermès family members last year took a belt and braces approach to ensure their control, by setting up a holding company that gives family members first right of refusal on share sales.




Large selection boosts wine sales


Source: ID Report

May 31st


Operators that offer a larger selection of wine brands sell more wine, especially at bars. So found a survey of 2,000 U.S. drinkers over the age of 21, reported by Alcoholic Beverage Demand/Tracker.


. Among drinkers who visit restaurants regularly, 31% say they are more likely to drink wine and 23% would order more glasses of wine as a result of being offered a larger selection of wine brands


. With more choices, 26% of wine drinkers are more likely to experiment by ordering wine brands they never tried before


. Among wine drinkers who visit bars regularly, 38% say they are more likely to drink wine and 31% will order more servings of wine with a wider selection of brands


. Only 25% of wine drinkers who visit bars say that a larger selection of brands has no effect on their consumption


“Our latest findings confirm the value for on-premise operators to offer a large selection of wine,” said David Decker, president of Consumer Edge Insight, the company that conducted the survey. “For those who enjoy wine, seeing a larger selection of brands at a bar or restaurant is an invitation to consume and experiment.”




Bon Pasteur sold to Goldin Group of Hong Kong


Source: Decanter

by Adam Lechmere

Friday 31 May 2013


Michel Rolland’s Chateau Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol and its two sister properties have been sold to the Goldin Group of Hong Kong.


The sale, which was decided in December last year but has taken some months to finalise, has just been announced by Vignobles Rolland, the owner of the properties.


The CEO of the Goldin Group is Sutong Pan, whose biography details his ‘profound experience infinance and property development [and the] manufacturing of advanced electronicproducts in China, Hong Kong and the United States.


Pan Sutong ‘is passionate about wine, well connected in Bordeaux wine circles, and ready to make every effort to valorize the wines, and the name, and to perpetuate the history in accordance with family tradition,’ Rolland Vignobles said.


The current technical team will remain in place under the direction of Michel and Dany Rolland, it added.


Goldin is also the owner of cult Rutherford, Napa property Sloan Estate, which it bought in 2011 for areported US$40m. Michel Rolland is its consultant.


The Bon Pasteur dealincludes two other Rolland estates, Chateau Rolland-Maillet in St Emilion and Chateau Bertineau St Vincent in Lalande-de-Pomerol. The properties’ vineyards amount to some 16ha.




Heavy rains across Europe delay growth ‘by three weeks’


Source: Decanter

by Panos Kakaviatos and Jane Anson in Burgundy

Friday 31 May 2013

The heavy rains that have been falling across France and much of Europe for the past few weeks have halted vine growth in many regions, jeopardising flowering at a crucial time of the year.


Trouble ahead…clouds over Clos des Lambrays in the Côte de Nuits [pic: Panos Kakaviatos]


In Burgundy, almost 400mm of rain has fallen since 27 April on the Cote d’Or – more than double the average. Growers say that the harvest is unlikely to begin before October, which will be three to four weeks late.


Surveying the Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Clos des Ducs vineyard in Volnay, owner Guillaume d’Angerville pointed out the noisy and constant flow of water draining from the celebrated vineyard: ‘We’ve only had five days without rain in the last 30 days,’ he said.


Over in Beaune, Frederic Barnier, winemaking director of Louis Jadot, pointed to clouds in the sky on 28 May: ‘This is typical, about two hours of sun, and then the rain comes back – we have had more than double normal rainfall since January, and what worries me most is the lack of sun.’


Flowering has been delayed and vineyard treatments such as ploughing that would normally have been completed by now have been difficult due to muddy vineyards..


Vintners have resorted to ’19th century methods’ of applying preventive anti-mildew treatments by hand-spray, said Frederic Mugnier of Jacques Frederic Mugnier in Chambolle Musigny.


Although abnormally low temperatures have minimized the risk of the spread of mildiou and oidium, winemakers worry that an imminent rise in temperatures will result in disease.


‘Up to 10 degrees C, mildew will not develop, but temperatures have been close to passing that border,’ Mugnier said.


Vintners are facing similar problems in the rest of France. In Bordeaux, new plantings are being put on hold. ‘Everything is behind schedule,’ said Peng Wang of Chateau de Pic in Cotes de Cadillac. Champagne is on high alert for frost risk, while Loire winemakers are reporting rapid spread of vegetation and weeds.


Problems are not just limited to France. Axel Heinz of Ornellaia, speaking at a tasting of his wines in Bordeaux last week, said that Tuscany has also had a cold spring, and the vines are about two weeks behind their usual stage at the end of May.




Chile Concha Y Toro 1st-Quarter Net Increases 0.3% To CLP5.25 Billion


Source: Dow Jones

May 31st


Vina Concha y Toro SA (VCO, CONCHATOR.SN) posted 5.25 billion Chilean pesos ($10.6 million) in first-quarter net profit, an increase of 0.3% from the same period last year, the Chilean wine maker said late Thursday.


In the first quarter, export sales increased less than expected as the winemaker couldn’t ship part of its production in March due to labor strikes at several Chilean ports.


Revenue for the quarter rose 2.5% year-on-year to CLP91.08 billion, the company said in a statement.


Concha y Toro, one of the world’s biggest wine exporters, has been focusing on premium wines to offset a stronger peso and rising production costs.




Bubbling under


Source: FT

By Jancis Robinson

May 31st


Growers’ champagnes consistently offer so much better value than the heavily marketed grandes marques


Is champagne a wine or a brand? This question preoccupied me as I tasted the offerings of five grape growers from the Champagne region in the cellars of Justerini & Brooks in St James’s Street, London. In the heart of clubland, a stone’s throw from Hedgie Central, you can imagine easily, I’m sure, Justerini’s client base and the sort of customers I was tasting with. These champagnes were without a shadow of a doubt wines – each one eloquently individual, the expression of particular growing seasons, personal winemaking philosophies and techniques, different villages and even different plots within the Champagne vignoble. Even the best-known name of the five, Egly Ouriet, enjoys nothing like the brand recognition of one of the grandes marques.


Justerini’s prices for these gems range from just £21.58 a bottle, for Forget-Brimont’s bargain non-vintage blend from Premier Cru vineyards, to £82.97 for Egly Ouriet’s magnificent 2002 vintage champagne from Grand Cru vineyards. These growers’ champagnes consistently offer so much better value than the heavily marketed grandes marques that I applaud Justerini’s buyers for taking notice of their increasing importance in the world of wine. But I suspect they may be a tough sell to some of their customers, accustomed as they are to the security of a well-known brand.


There are about 20 well-known grandes marques, robustly priced champagnes made in such quantity that they have to blend dozens and often hundreds of ingredients to produce a consistent style. When you serve your guests one of these, they know they are being treated to something with a certain price tag and reputation. But only wine nuts know their Larmandier-Bernier (one of my favourite champagne growers) from their Laurent Perrier (one of the grandes marques). In some circles it would take a certain confidence to serve champagne from a little-known grower, however good, especially since from a distance it can be so difficult to tell a lovingly crafted grower’s champagne from a cheap, mass-market buyer’s own brand.


The key is to look at the pair of initials in small print on the label. Growers’ champagnes are denoted “RM” for récoltant-manipulant. A buyer’s own brand is marked “MA” for marque d’acheteur, while someone who buys in wine to make their champagne, as all the grandes marques do, is an “NM” for négociant-manipulant. A co-op wine is marked “CM” for coopérative de manipulation. Checking this at a party would take extremely good eyesight and a certain amount of impudence.


I have long thought it odd that the big champagne producers have adapted so little to the increasing sophistication and curiosity of wine-drinkers. I have sought, largely in vain, to learn which years their non-vintage blends are based on, or how long the blend has been in contact with the character-forming sediment from the second fermentation in the bottle and, ideally, when the champagne was separated from it (an operation known as disgorgement). Most grandes marques leave their customers entirely in the dark about this sort of nerdy detail. And of course it is even more infuriating to me that such champagne continues to sell so well despite their brand owners treating their non-vintage blends as though they were branded fizzy drinks – which of course they are, even if rather more expensive than the average cola.


Good growers, bless them, are far more likely to deliver such facts on a plate – or at least on back labels. The likes of Bérèche et Fils, Chartogne-Taillet and Pascal Doquet are all excellent at telling their customers which vintages and grapes are in the blend. Egly Ouriet prints exactly how many months the wine was in contact with the lees (106 in the case of that 2002) and when it was disgorged. Isabelle Diebolt of Diebolt-Vallois explained to me, chez Justerini, that they are quite happy to supply informative back labels if their importers ask for them. Justerini’s don’t. The Swedish monopoly insists on them. Please, importers, ask for max facts. Your customers can always ignore them if they are not interested.


The most energetic importers of grower champagnes I know are Terry Theise in Washington DC and Vine Trail of Bristol. Terry almost single-handedly ignited American sommeliers’ love affair with these terroir- and vintage-driven wines, while Nick Brookes of Vine Trail can claim to have done the same, a little later, in the UK. The guests at Vine Trail’s recent grower champagne tasting were quite different from the St James’s crowd. Young, casually dressed restaurant staff made up the majority and were clearly set to order enough to warrant a personal appearance from most of the 13 growers whose wines (no, not brands) were on show.


There was such individuality evident in this selection, it was thrilling. I didn’t enjoy every single wine but I truly appreciated them – for the individual story each had to tell. They really did taste like quite different drinks from grande marque champagne (which is sometimes exquisite but too often dull and overpriced). Many of Vine Trail’s champagnes are Extra Brut or even Brut Nature with much less added sugar than most champagnes, yet most taste beautifully balanced rather than searingly tart.


There are more than 4,650 champagne growers making and selling their own champagne. Some of it is dismal. I should stress that I am not advocating all grower champagne; it has to have been handpicked by someone like Theise, Brookes, Justerini’s or The Sampler in London. Nick Brookes’ last foray in search of new growers to add to the Vine Trail portfolio involved auditioning 41 potential suppliers, of which he chose a single one. Anyone with an intimate knowledge of champagne drinking in France will understand.


But if you are seriously interested in wine, as opposed to brands, you ignore this segment of Champagne producers at your peril. As Isabelle Diebolt put it, “these wines are for people looking for something different, something determined by terroir. We look for it in cheese, in coffee, in chocolate. Why not champagne?”




Not Just for Fondue: The Fresh Whites of Savoie


The French region is known for its cheeses, but its wines are more obscure. That could change as more people try Savoie’s light, refreshing, affordable white wines, says Lettie Teague.


Source: WSJ


May 31st


THE CONNECTION between wine and cheese has been well documented. There are books and seminars and even educational videos explaining the closeness of their relationship. And while the two are often produced in the same places, they’re particularly tight in the Savoie region of France.


Located in the picturesque, pricey French Alps, Savoie is home to famous cheeses like Reblochon and Tomme de Savoie, and has even been called the birthplace of fondue. The reputation of its wines, however, is a bit more obscure. Made with grapes such as the unfamiliar Jacquère and Gringet, the wines of Savoie are little-known and can be quite hard to find. But thanks to an appealing combination of high quality and low price, that may soon change.


I first tasted a Savoie wine almost 12 years ago, at Artisanal Bistro, the cheese-centric New York restaurant. The wine was the Pierre Boniface Apremont Vin de Savoie, and although that was long ago, I still remember how well it went with my croque monsieur-its bright acidity offering a bracing contrast to the richness of the ham and the cheese. And it was cheap: The retail price was between $10 and $12 a bottle. I saw the Boniface many times over the years, but I never found any more wines from Savoie-and eventually, I stopped looking for them.


Then about a year and a half ago, Joe Salamone, a wine buyer at Crush Wine & Spirits in New York, mentioned that he had some particularly good Savoie whites. I bought the bottles he recommended and found them just as good as, if not better than, the Boniface Apremont. They were not only crisp and refreshing but also intensely minerally; some even had a Chablis-like flintiness as well. Others were more opulent and rich, but they were all quite reasonably priced-generally around $20 a bottle.


Most of the wines were made from the Jacquère grape, a rather obscure varietal everywhere else in world but common and popular in Savoie. Wines made from Jacquère are quite dry and rather light-bodied, with a Sancerre-style acidity and delicate floral aromas. They’re perfect wines for summer, though in Savoie they’re often consumed après-ski with melted cheese.


Some Savoie whites are richer and more viscous; these are the wines made from the Altesse grape, another Savoie-specific varietal, which tastes a bit like a cross between Chardonnay and Roussanne (yet another grape grown in Savoie). In fact, Altesse is frequently blended with Chardonnay in both still and sparkling Savoie wines.


There are other grapes grown in Savoie, too, most notably Gringet (a high-acid white said to be related to a grape from Jura, in eastern France) and Mondeuse blanche and noire (the latter is a bit like Syrah), as well as a few others that are yet more obscure.


Many of these grapes have alternate names. That’s another hallmark of Savoie wines-in addition to their affinity for cheese, they come with quite a few aliases. For example, Altesse is also known as Anet, Fusette d’Ambérieu and Prin Blanc, while Jacquère’s alternate monikers are Martin-Cot and Cugnette.


Jacquère is grown to particularly good effect in Apremont, which means “after the mountain.” Apremont is probably the best-known town in Savoie, as there are quite a few producers based there. In fact, Apremont shows up so often on labels that non-Savoie-savvy drinkers might be excused for thinking it, too, was a grape.


There are other well-known Savoie towns, most notably Chignin, where Jacquère is grown; and Frangy, where Roussette (aka Altesse) is grown. Of course, “well-known” is a relative concept when it comes to Savoie. There aren’t many wine drinkers who really know the wines-at least, not yet. According to Mulan Chan-Randel, who buys Savoie wines for K&L Wine Merchants in California, almost all of their Savoie sales are “hand sells” in the store. There are almost no Internet buyers-that is, very few are seeking the wines out. In fact, the only time that customers actually request a Savoie wine is “when they’re making fondue,” said Ms. Chan.


Savoie wine importer Russell Herman said that he sometimes describes Savoie as “the upper Rhône Valley,” and that seems to help orient people geographically. Mr. Herman has been importing the wines of Savoie producer Eugène Carrel for six years. The wines have sold well, according to Mr. Herman, who attributes part of their success to a “general movement toward high-elevation whites, with lower alcohol levels, that are fresh and light.”


In fact, those last two words were key to my decision to organize tastings of 20 or so Savoie wines recently. “Fresh” and “light” are the defining words of a summer wine, after all. Most of the wines that I bought were made from the Jacquère grape, although I had some Altesse and Gringet wines and a couple of sparkling wines as well. Most cost around $20 a bottle, although a couple cost as much as $44.


I tasted the wines alone and with food (including cheese, of course) and tasted them all with friends, none of whom had ever had encountered wines from the region. This last fact was particularly striking, as some of my friends are serious collectors who buy and drink wines from all over the world.


But their enthusiasm was nearly as vast as their ignorance. “This is clean like a whistle,” said my friend Sue approvingly of the crisp 2010 Domaine Giachino Apremont. “It’s exactly the kind of low-alcohol wine that I love,” she added, looking at the 11.5% alcohol number on the label of a bottle of 2010. “It’s tingly,” said another friend of the minerally 2011 Domaine Belluard Les Alpes, one of the two wines made from the Gringet grape in the tasting. (The other, also made by Domaine Belluard, was Le Feu, a single-vineyard wine made from the estate’s oldest vines that was even more impressive. At $41, it cost about $12 more than the Les Alpes.)


There were very few disappointments among the various bottles-a rare occurrence in any tasting. Even the Pierre Boniface, a wine I hadn’t tasted in years, was still good, if a bit simple compared with some of the others. My friends were also quite pleased by the prices (the 2012 Eugène Carrel Roussette de Savoie, at $18, was deemed a steal). In fact, the only dissenter was a wine collector who seemed alarmed to find that he liked so cheap a wine.


A few days later, I decided to check out the Artisanal wine list; there were probably quite a few Savoie wines on it by now. But there were none: Even the Pierre Boniface was gone. What happened? I asked Artisanal’s wine director, Brian Mitchell (who recalled the Boniface favorably from his years in retail). Mr. Mitchell replied that he simply preferred other wines; for example, with the fondue he was featuring a Swiss wine made from the Chasselas grape. Although disappointed, I understood; the Swiss know how to pair wine with cheese, too.




Billionaire buys the neighbour’s chateau


Source: Timaru Herald



Wine-loving American billionaire Bill Foley has opened his chequebook again to buy a $1.85 million chateau next door to his luxury lodge south of Featherston.


Mr Foley, owner of the exclusive Wharekauhau Country Estate, near Lake Wairarapa, received Overseas Investment Office approval in April to buy the house.


The OIO announced its decision yesterday. Mr Foley, who is worth more than $1.5 billion, intends to use the house, Chateau Wellington, as his home when he is in the country.


He manages a Kiwi wine empire from Te Kairanga winery in Martinborough, which he bought in 2011.


The 430-square-metre chateau includes three bedrooms with luxurious en suites, an outdoor swimming pool and sweeping views of Palliser Bay.


Its extensive open grounds allow easy access for helicopters to fly guests in from Wellington.


When he is not in residence, Mr Foley intends to offer it as additional luxury accommodation for Wharekauhau.


He began buying vineyards in Wairarapa and Marlborough in 2009, and his holding company, Foley Family Wines, controls brands including Vavasour, Dashwood, Redwood Pass, Boatshed Bay, Goldwater and Clifford Bay.


He has extensive interests in the American wine industry and owns numerous vineyards in California and Washington State, while remaining chairman of the insurance firm Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company.




China: Call for cheaper wine as economy slows


Source: China Daily

By Tang Zhihao in Shanghai and Zhou Siyu in Beijing

June 3, 2013


The wine industry in China is paying more attention to less expensive brands as an increasing number of Chinese people seek more affordable imported bottles to enjoy socially rather than for business purposes.


The figures from Wine Intelligence, a London-based consulting firm specializing in the wine business, show that in the first quarter of 2013, 69 percent of 1,024 people surveyed aged between 18 and 50 in China said they usually spent less than 200 yuan ($33) on imported wine for a casual occasion. Wine Intelligence did not provide figures for previous years because there was a change to its survey methodology. However, Wine Intelligence said there is growing demand for less expensive wine in China.


“There is a growing trend of drinking wine for pleasure rather than buying it primarily as a gift or serving it at banquets as a status symbol and, along with this growth in more casual drinking, there’s also a higher demand for wine at more affordable price points,” said Maria Troein, China country manager of Wine Intelligence.


There is no industry definition for entry-level wine or affordable wine. However, industry insiders said wine priced below 200 yuan could be defined as entry-level wine.


“The Chinese, as in other mature markets, are showing more interest in wine and getting to know more about it. This has created new market segments of young drinkers who like to drink wine and that fits their lifestyles – whether it is in restaurants, bars or even at home,” said Joao Gago, managing director of Boutique Wine Asia. BwA is an imported-wine trading company in China with annual trading volume of 20 containers of wine from more than 10 countries.


Gago said 50 percent of BwA sales are made up of wine priced around 90 yuan, an increase from 25 percent in 2012.


“Before it was not common to see a Chinese person order a bottle of wine in a restaurant or buy wine to share with friends at home. Now it is becoming better appreciated. It has become part of daily life, especially in bigger and more sophisticated cities such as Shanghai,” said Gago.


“Wine is said to be good for the health and a bottle of wine might provoke more topics to talk about in one’s leisure time,” said Wang Yue, a white-collar worker in Shanghai.


The gradually maturing wine market in China has made wine businesses in Bordeaux, France, keen to introduce more affordable varieties to the Chinese market to capture demand from ordinary people. In previous years, Bordeaux wine was considered to be a symbol of social status and only suitable for high-end business banquets. Bordeaux wine traders are trying to change that image.


Every year, the Bordeaux Wine Council (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux, or CIVB in French), a French group that represents more than 10,000 Bordeaux wine producers and vine growers, recommends to Chinese wine lovers a selection of 100 Bordeaux wines that are best adapted to the Chinese market and are priced at the entry and medium levels (100 to 350 yuan a bottle).


“We want the customers to know that not all Bordeaux wines are expensive. Some of them are but there are also some that are affordable and of good quality,” said Thomas Jullien, Asia Manager of the CIVB.


China has become the first export destination for Bordeaux wine. In 2012, China imported a total of 64 million liters of Bordeaux wines, twice the volume sent to Germany, its closest rival, according to CIVB data.


Changing market conditions are also pushing Chinese wine makers to develop less expensive brands to better fit market demand.


“Our new products will be priced between 50 yuan to 100 yuan a bottle, affordable for ordinary folk. This is in line with the relatively slower economic growth this year,” said Luan Xiuju, managing director of China Foods Ltd, the Hong Kong-listed consumer food arm of the country’s largest State-owned food conglomerate China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp


Industry experts believe more affordable wine will help cultivate a wine culture in China and boost market demand in the long run.


“China’s market is growing very fast but people are still less familiar with the wine culture than they are in Western countries. The most important thing right now is to bring wine into households as well as people’s daily lives,” said Ma Wenfeng, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant.




Bill Howell, former CEO of Miller Brewing, dies at 83


Source: Washington Post

By John Schmid

June 2


When Bill Howell joined Miller Brewing in 1970, the “champagne of beers” ranked as the nation’s No. 7 brew.


But Mr. Howell helped widen the appeal to a mass market of blue-collar drinkers and transform the American brewing industry with the introduction of the nation’s first mainstream low-calorie beer. By the time he retired from Miller in 1988, it was the nation’s No. 2 brewery.


Mr. Howell died May 25 in Richmond after a long illness. He was 83.


“The goal was to take Miller out of the champagne bucket and put it into the lunch bucket without losing that premium image,” said Leonard Goldstein, who replaced Mr. Howell as Miller’s chief executive.


He moved to build new breweries to keep up with demand, said Billy Apple, a retired Miller executive who worked for decades with Howell.


William K. Howell grew up in rural Virginia and attended the University of Richmond, where he played wide receiver on a football scholarship and studied business. After a stint in the Marine Corps, he took a job at the Philip Morris tobacco company in Richmond.


When Philip Morris diversified beyond its cigarette brands with the 1970 acquisition of Miller Brewing, Mr. Howell moved to Milwaukee to become vice president of operations. He became chief executive in 1984.


At the time of the Philip Morris acquisition, Miller was best known for its “High Life” brand.


Philip Morris wanted to bring a new image to Miller. Mr. Howell helped introduce the “It’s Miller time” advertising slogan, conveying the notion that Miller was the beer of the working man.


Miller’s biggest breakthrough was the 1973 introduction of Miller Lite. No other brewery had found the brewing formula or marketing strategy for a successful low-calorie, low-alcohol beer.


Mr. Howell worked with the brewmasters on a formula that had 96 calories but tasted like regular lager. The idea was to market Miller Lite to men and dispel the notion that it was a watery women’s drink.


Miller created a genre of amusing television advertisements, hiring sports figures such as John Madden, Mike Ditka, Bob Uecker and celebrities such as Rodney Dangerfield.


Mr. Howell worked with the marketing team to come up with the slogan, “Great Taste, Less Filling.” Commercials ended with the catchphrase: “Everything you’ve always wanted in a beer. And less.”


Miller ignited change across the brewing world. Other breweries followed suit with light beers of their own, including Miller’s main rival, Anheuser-Busch.


Since Mr. Howell retired, Miller has had several ownership changes. South African Breweries acquired Miller in 2002, and it now exists in a joint venture with Molson Coors, called MillerCoors. It retains its brewing operations in Milwaukee.


Mr. Howell is survived by his wife, two sons and grandchildren.




RPI hits 10-month high as business expectations improve


Source: NRA

May 31, 2013


Driven by higher same-store sales and an improving outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) hit a 10-month high in April.  The RPI stood at 101.0 in April, up 0.4 percent from a level of 100.6 in March, and is the third time in the last four months that the RPI topped the 100 level, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.


“Growth in the Restaurant Performance Index was due largely to restaurant operators’ healthier outlook for the business environment in the coming months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “In particular, there was a dropoff in the proportion of operators who expect conditions to worsen in the months ahead, which suggests a broadening of the perspective that the expansion is firmly entrenched.”


The RPI consists of two components – the Current Situation Index (measuring current trends) and the Expectations Index (measuring restaurant operators’ six-month outlook) – and tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry.


The Current Situation Index stood at 100.1 in April – up 0.3 percent from a level of 99.8 in March.  April represented the first time in eight months that the Current Situation Index rose above 100. While overall sales were positive in April, restaurant operators reported a net decline in customer traffic for the fifth consecutive month.


The Expectations Index stood at 101.9 in April – up 0.5 percent from March and the highest level in 11 months.  Each of the four expectations indicators stood above 100 for the fourth consecutive month, which indicates a firming of optimism for business conditions in the months ahead.


Restaurant operators also reported an uptick in plans for capital spending in the months ahead.  Fifty-nine percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 55 percent who reported similarly last month.


Restaurant operators are also somewhat more optimistic about staffing growth in the months ahead.  Twenty-two percent of operators plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while just 10 percent said they plan to cut positions.




United Kingdom: Alcohol trade body to enforce rules outside ASA’s remit


Source: Marketing Week

By Sebastian Joseph

Fri, 31 May 2013


PR, blogs and any other content beyond the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority will now be regulated by industry body the Portman Group after it expanded its code of practice.


The Portman Group will now regulate alcohol marketing laws outside the ASA’s remit.


The clamp down on gaps between the remits of both regulatory bodies are part of changes to the industry body’s voluntary code of conduct governing the marketing of alcohol (see box).


Producers now being able to make lower-strength of their of their drinks a dominate theme in advertising campaigns. This was prohibited in the past but the group is hoping the shift will spur the industry’s Responsibility Deal with the Government by introducing and promoting new lower-strength alcohol ranges.


Alcohol brands will also be required to promote responsible drinking as a key part of any sponsorship campaign. Brewers AB Inbev and Heineken already do this through their work around the FA Cup and Champions League respectively.


Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group said the updates, some of which were first mooted in 2011 alongside the launch of the Responsibility Deal, aim to strike the “right balance between enabling innovative campaigns and NPD while also curbing “unacceptable” marketing.


He adds: “The industry works hard to operate an effective and practical approach to self-regulation which is supported by producers and retailers and I am encouraged that Government has recognised this in its alcohol strategy.


The Portman Group, which is funded by the UK’s nine biggest producers and has 140 signatories, is working with the Government to help shape its alcohol strategy. The strategy, due to be announced later this year, could lead to another revision of the laws.


It comes a week after UK regulators revealed they are to review whether tougher rules on alcohol brands advertising on TV are needed.


Revision of the ‘Code of Practice on Naming Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks’:


Ensure consistent and seamless self-regulation – the remit of the code has been expanded so that it covers all alcohol marketing not regulated by the ASA or Ofcom. This also extends to online marketing such as user-generated content not claimed by the publisher.


Clamp down on inappropriate marketing claims – brands can no longer make direct or indirect links with sexual activity or references to sexual success.


Protect under 18s – Images of people who are (or look like they are) under 25 can longer be featured in campaigns drinking or holding alcohol.


Promote low and lower alcohol alternatives – Brands can make the lower alcohol content of their drinks a more prominent part of marketing activity.


Introduce a UK-wide Sponsorship Code – Drinks makers will be required to promote responsible drinking as an integral part of any sponsorship activity.




Iran: Seven Die in Iran After Drinking Homemade Alcohol


Source: NY Times


June 3rd


A batch of illegally distilled alcohol has killed seven people, sent dozens to the hospital and blinded several others in the southern Iranian city of Rafsanjan, local news media reported Sunday.


Hospitals in Rafsanjan started filling up last week with patients who were complaining of a loss of vision and other symptoms consistent with alcohol poisoning. Doctors in the area blame concoctions containing high levels of methanol – a simple alcohol used as an antifreeze and also for biofuels – mixed with energy drinks.


Most of the victims were young. “All those who died were men under the age of 27,” said Dr. Hamid Najmedin of the Rafsanjan Medical Science University, the Ebtekarnews Web site reported Sunday.


Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran, and those caught consuming it can be punished with a lashing according to Iran’s Islamic laws. Persistent use is punishable by death. But large amounts of foreign alcohol is smuggled in, and many Iranians drink a kind of homemade vodka known as arak sagi, or dog sweat.


A bottle of smuggled vodka costs the equivalent of $28, while the locally made product sells for about one-third less.


Government policies that have stoked inflation, and international economic sanctions have driven up the prices of all products, including smuggled alcohol, forcing many Iranians to buy homemade liquor. In the past seven months the number of deaths related to bad alcohol has more than doubled, the semiofficial Mehr news agency has reported.


But some officials in the region cast this most recent episode as part of a political plot to influence the June 14 presidential election or to lower voter turnout as a way to raise doubts about the popularity of Iran’s leaders. The governor of Rafsanjan, which is a relatively wealthy region that is the center of Iran’s pistachio cultivation, said the alcohol distributors were trying to stop people from voting.


“We are creating a political epic, but some people are trying to create an atmosphere in which they can achieve their mischievous goals,” the governor, Akbar Pourmohammadi, told the semiofficial Fars news agency, adding that three people had been arrested. It is unclear whether those poisoned by the illegal alcohol will be punished.




Nevada: Wirtz Beverage Nevada Bolsters Craft Segment In the Marketplace


Renowned Brands & Industry Experts Join the Distributor


Source: Respublica

May 31st


Wirtz Beverage Nevada (WBN) announced today strategic investments in the craft category supporting its progressive expansion statewide. Several renowned national and regional artisanal beer and spirit brands along with three industry experts join the company, a leader in the wholesale distribution of beer, wine and spirits.


“We see incredible opportunity in the craft business so we forward invest behind great brands and with the right specialization,” said Kevin Roberts, SVP Wirtz Beverage Nevada. “With our continued expansion into the category, our footprint is expected to grow exponentially.  Leveraging the expertise of our specialists, we foresee even more opportunity for growth.”


With committed professionals leading the effort, such as Craft Brand Specialist Kent Bearden, the Wirtz Beverage Nevada team is comprised of a talented ensemble of beer, wine and spirits experts with a wide range of abilities and experience. The newly-appointed craft experts will bolster the Wirtz Beverage Nevada team and include:


Michael Shetler, Craft Brand Specialist:  Michael Shetler is an industry veteran holding several highly-lauded accreditations including Sommelier, Cicerone Beer Server, BAR and Beer Judge Certifications and is also currently working towards Cicerone ranking. Holding varied senior-level industry positions, most recently, Michael was Director of Beverage for the Aria Hotel where he oversaw all beverage operations. In his role with WBN, Michael will help enhance the programming and performance of its craft portfolio.


Jack Kramer, Craft Brand Specialist:  A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and University of Nevada Las Vegas, Jack holds respective degrees in Culinary Arts Management and Hospitality Management. Career experience includes more than seven years in the wholesale beverage industry. An accredited beverage professional, Jack is a Certified Cicerone and Certified Sommelier. With WBN, His expertise will contribute to building craft brands.


Joseph Morandi, Head Draft Technician – Northern Nevada: A student of zymurgy for more than 20 years, Joe is an avid home brewer and winemaker with Cicerone Beer Server and Beer Judge Certifications as well as Micro Matic Advance Draft Training. Currently, Joe is also pursuing a Siebel Institute Associate Brewing Science degree. A renowned expert, Joe owned a quality draft line service company. In his new role, Joe will oversee the quality and service standards of the WBN craft beer portfolio including proper delivery methods and pouring techniques.


Together, the specialized team will support the company’s integration of its artisanal brands statewide, now including the Reno/Northern region. Its expansion into the category includes newly-formed partnerships with many illustrious brands some of which include Rogue Brewery, Ballast Point, Green Flash, Sierra Blanca and Santa Fe.


Continuing education, training and programming efforts demonstrate Wirtz Beverage Nevada’s commitment to the craft business.  Already, its sales force has undergone extensive training with all members holding Level One Cicerone accreditation.


“There is an incredible appreciation, both inside and outside the walls of Wirtz Beverage, for the craft segment,” said Kent Bearden. “The additions to our company complement our ability to service the market’s growing demand for premium beverage offerings with the knowledge and service to match.”




Pennsylvania: Corbett – lawmakers need to act now on transportation funding


Source: WHTM

By Dennis Owens

May 30th


Cars and trucks zipped along Interstate-83 in Cumberland County directly behind Governor Corbett today as he strained his voice to be heard over them.


But he delivered a clear message, mostly intended for House Republicans: get me a transportation funding plan and get it to me in time for the June 30 budget deadline.


Corbett no doubt senses that transportation funding is in a legislative logjam and he hopes this roadside press conference will help free it from Capitol congestion.


The governor wants either his $1.8 billion plan or Senate Bill 1, a $2.5 billion plan, passed. Both the Senate and governor’s plan would increase fees and gasoline taxes to pay for additional funding for roads, bridges and mass transit, which are frequently criticized and widely considered among the worst in the nation.


“This is how we get a sustainable long-term solution to having funding for Pennsylvania for transportation,” Corbett said.


PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch gave specific examples of where new money would go. He showed the brand new Lowther Street bridge in the background as an example of the good things that can happen with more cash. He also warned that projects like the widening of Interstate 83 would be scrapped without extra money.


“The reason for that is, we’ll go back to basic maintenance,” Schoch said. “Unfortunately, if we don’t take action on funding, this is the last of these type projects you’ll see in the Harrisburg region.”


House Transportation Committee Chairman Dick Hess (R-Bedford/Fulton/Huntingdon) agreed and said lawmaker should approve more funding.


“We’ve kicked this can down the road for 13 years now,” Hess said at the press conference. “We have to do something. You sent us here to be leaders. I know it’s not the most popular thing to do, but sometimes you have to do what’s right.”


But right is wrong to many House Republicans who worry about passing a bill that would raise prices at the gas pump. Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) was less than enthusiastic about the issue when asked about it Wednesday.


“Transportation has always been a Senate priority,” he said. “It has not been a House priority.” Remember, leaders drive the agenda in the General Assembly.


What is a priority for the House Republicans is liquor privatization. House Whip Stan Saylor (R-York) is in charge of rounding up votes. He says votes for roads would flow more freely if the Senate would reciprocate on booze.


“There’s a chunk of the members in the House Republican caucus and they’re saying, ‘We want the liquor bill.’ That is the tradeoff for getting their vote on transportation.”


There’s no official link between liquor and transportation, but based on that comment, there’s a de facto linkage between the two.


Saylor smiled and said, “I’m just being honest.”


A year ago, also beside a busy road, then-Auditor General Jack Wagner poked a stick at a  crumbling bridge support in Harrisburg. He forcefully asked the legislature to act on a transportation plan.


Wagner’s big stick didn’t work but Corbett’s trying the highway-side press conference tactic. It remains to be seen if that will work.


Corbett made it clear he wants transportation, and pension reform, and liquor privatization on his desk with the budget, by the deadline that is now 30 days away.


But if lawmakers continue to stall on a transportation package, they risk getting run over by the issue.


Adams County Representative Dan Moul (R) seems to understand the danger of suggesting that roads and bridges, “aren’t a priority.”


“I don’t want to wait until a school bus full of school children goes through a bridge and into a river to do something about it. I want to be proactive.”


In federal and state dollars, PennDOT currently spends about $6 billion a year.

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