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Wine In The News

 

 

Chateau d’Yquem Won’t Produce 2012 Vintage

Storied Sauternes producer Chateau d’Yquem is canceling its 2012 vintage after heavy rains during harvest resulted in low quantity and lackluster concentration across its crop, reports AFP, quoting d’Yquem CEO Pierre Lurton. Chateau d’Yquem typically produces around 100,000 bottles worth $33 million in sales.

Lurton said the decision not to produce this year has the blessing of Bernard Arnault, head of majority brand owner LVMH. The move has precedents in 1952, 1972 and 1992, leading Lurton to joke that d’Yquem appears to be cursed every 20th vintage. Chaotic weather conditions led to a short harvest across much of Europe this year, with the Bordeaux region, of which Sauternes is a part, seeing an especially difficult vintage.

 

 

Constellation Brands New Mobile App

Constellation Brands has launched a new mobile marketing initiative using Hello Vino, a free mobile app that provides personalized wine recommendations. As part of the program, Constellation will activate notification and sponsorship features via the Hello Vino platform, as well as provide educational content to consumers at the point of purchase. Currently running throughout the northeastern U.S., the marketing push is intended to help Constellation better reach Millennial consumers. According to a recent SymphonyIRI survey, smartphone apps are the leading digital influence on brand selection for U.S. Millennial shoppers.

 

Facebook Is Now Selling Wine

Facebook’s new gifting feature, which offers wines for sale, launches nationwide today. Initially test-marketed in September, Facebook Gifts allows users to send friends real gifts, such as toys, gourmet food, wine, gift cards and other items. The site’s wine collection includes red, white and sparkling offerings from Robert Mondavi (priced at $25-$28 a bottle), Bonterra Vineyards ($14-$17), Recuerdo Wines ($15-$22) and Chandon ($22-$100), among others. All shipments are sold directly from the winery. The service could potentially generate significant revenue for Facebook, which takes a percentage of each gift sale and currently boasts roughly 170 million users in the U.S.

 

Russia To Lower Tariffs On U.S. Wines, Providing Major Export Opportunity

Russia is planning to lower its tariff on U.S. wines from 20% to 12.5% over the next four years, after President Obama’s recent signing of a bill extending permanent normal trade relations with Russia and Moldova. The plan’s first reduction, which will take place no later than September 1, 2013, will bring the tariff down to 18.125%. Subsequently, the rate will continue to drop by 1.875% every 12 months until it reaches 12.5% in 2016.

The bill is expected to significantly boost sales for the 50 California wine brands currently being sold in Russia, the world’s ninth-largest economy. According to The Wine Institute, U.S. wine exports to Russia were up 26% to $8.62 million in 2011, with volume up 340% to 2.2 million liters.

 

Amazon Launches New Wine Marketplace

Online retail giant Amazon is returning to the wine category, launching its new Amazon Wine marketplace today. Amazon’s wine offering encompasses more than a thousand labels, among them notable California brands like Hall Wines and Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Visitors to the new wine marketplace can search wines based on rating, tasting notes and winery location. Starting today, customers can ship up to six bottles for $9.99.

Amazon says shipping is currently available to California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia, with more states to follow. Unlike its previous foray into wine retailing—which ended in 2009 when partner New Vine Logistics ran into financial problems—Amazon is not contracting a separate wine-shipping outfit this time around. Instead, the wines will be shipped directly from the wineries themselves.

 

California 2012 Wine Harvest Totals

The Wine Institute says California’s 2012 wine harvest totaled 3.7 million tons, up roughly 12% from 3.3 million tons last year. The harvest total was roughly in line with predictions earlier in the season. Winemakers across California reported strong quality for the vintage, and relief at the increase in volume from last year. A string of relatively light harvests has resulted in a shortage, causing grape prices to soar in recent months, with the price of Cabernet Sauvignon roughly doubling.

 

Leese-Fitch Igniting Growth For The Other Guys

Sonoma, California-based wine and spirits group The Other Guys (TOG) tells Shanken News Daily that sales of its Leese-Fitch wine brand jumped by 65% through October, to reach 126,000 cases. Last month alone, the California-focused range more than doubled its volume on the same period last year, from around 9,300 cases in October 2011 to more than 19,000 cases for October 2012. Leese-Fitch is the top selling brand in TOG’s overall portfolio, which is expected to near the 300,000-case-mark this year.

Priced at $12.99 a 750-ml., Leese-Fitch features Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Merlot. According to TOG president August Sebastiani, the brand’s success has been built primarily on attractive pricing and packaging, as well as a “food-friendly” taste profile and initial on-premise focus. “We were originally able to establish the brand through on-premise distribution and have now begun to see success through retail channels and bottle shops,” he explains.

Formerly the boutique wine unit of Don Sebastiani & Sons, TOG spun off in 2010, becoming a stand-alone company. In addition to Leese-Fitch, the group’s wine brands currently include Pennywise ($10.99), Plungerhead ($14.99-$19.99) and Hey Mambo ($9.99)—which last year moved 59,000 cases, 36,000 cases and 30,000 cases, respectively—and two smaller labels, Moobuzz ($14.99) and The White Knight ($9.99). Last year, the company launched its craft spirits division, 35 Maple, which rolled out 4,000 cases of its first offering, Masterson’s rye whisky ($79 a 750-ml.), in August 2011. Earlier this year, 35 Maple introduced Uncle Val’s Gin, a small-batch juniper-based gin priced between $35-$40 a bottle.

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