Liquor Industry News 5-31-13

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Friday May 31st 2013

Today Is A Biodynamic FLOWER Day.

Great To Taste Or Drink Wine!

Reminder Saturday June 1st 3:30-5:30

Stop In For A Bud Light Lime-A-Rita Tasting!

 

Don’t lower blood alcohol content to .05%: Our view

 

Source: USA Today

The Editorial Board

May 30, 2013

 

Instead, broaden the use of ignition interlocks.

 

The battle against drunken driving is one of the great success stories of recent years. Over three decades, the number of annual deaths has been cut in half, from more than 20,000 to less than 10,000. Even so, on average one person still dies every hour in a drinking-related traffic accident in the United States, leaving plenty of room to reduce the toll further.

 

That’s what the National Transportation Safety Board had in mind this month when it recommended that all states cut their legal drinking limit from .08% blood alcohol content (BAC) to .05%. You can’t argue with the NTSB’s motives, but you can argue with its logic.

 

A 170-pound man could hit .05 by consuming three beers or glasses of wine in an hour, and a 137-pound woman by consuming just two. So lowering the legal limit would turn a lot of responsible social drinkers into criminals. More important, it probably wouldn’t do much to reduce drunken driving deaths.

 

According to statistics the NTSB cites, drivers with a .05 to .08 BAC represent just 8% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents. And that number doesn’t even reflect whether alcohol-impairment caused the crash.

 

The NTSB also points to reduced fatalities in some European countries with .05 limits. But drivers in these countries also face huge fines or frequent sobriety checkpoints, so it’s impossible to credit the .05 BAC limit for the decline.

 

In any event, there’s no political stomach in the USA for going down to .05%, and even the influential Mothers Against Drunk Driving hasn’t endorsed the NTSB proposal.

 

So how to maintain the progress?

 

One promising option is to expand use of ignition interlocks, alcohol detection devices that drivers must blow into to start their cars.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interlocks lower the re-arrest rate of drunken drivers by two-thirds. In fact, drivers with ignition interlocks had fewer alcohol-related accidents than those who were punished by having their licenses suspended.

 

Some states have had great success with interlocks. After approving strict interlock laws in 2007, Arizona and Louisiana both cut drunken driving deaths by more than 36% in just four years. This month, Tennessee joined them, becoming the 18th state to mandate interlocks for all convicted drunken drivers, even first offenders.

 

Too many other states, however, have interlock laws that do more to appease convicted drunken drivers than control them. Colorado, for example, mandates them only for drivers convicted with a BAC of .17 or above, more than double the legal limit. Alabama requires any DUI offender with a child under 15 to install an interlock device. So is the message that it’s OK to kill a 15-year-old in a drunken driving accident?

 

The carnage produced by drunken driving will never be eradicated, but the nation can get closer by employing strategies already proven to work.

 

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

 

 

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China’s Distilled Liquor Industry, After 10 Years Of Sustained Growth, Suffers Severe Contraction In First Quarter

 

Source: IBT

By Sophie Song

May 30 2013

 

China’s distilled liquor, known as “baijiu,” is experiencing the first industry-wide contraction in the past 10 years, driven by a fall in high-end liquor consumption since President Xi’s austerity measures went into effect in December 2012. In response, high-end brands are now lowering their prices and turning to the Internet to market their products.

 

Baijiu is a term that refers to all Chinese distilled alcoholic beverages, usually made from sorghum but can be made from other grains. It generally contains about 40 percent to 60 percent alcohol by volume. In the past 10 years, the baijiu industry has experienced enormous growth.

 

In 2001, baijiu brought in a total of 49.9 billion yuan ($8.14 billion), according to Jiuwenhua.cn, a Chinese liquor industry news website. In 2012, baijiu sales in China totaled 447 billion yuan, a near tenfold increase. Unfortunately, that expansion came to a screeching halt in the first quarter of 2013.

 

Maotai, which is traditionally considered the best baijiu, saw a 23.8 percent decrease in its first quarter 2013 sales compared to the same period last year, according to Yangtze Evening News, a regional Chinese newspaper. Last year, in the high-spending period just before Chinese New Year, a bottle of Maotai sold for over 2,000 yuan, but now the price has fallen to as low as 700 yuan in some areas.

 

This sharp fall in sales is in large part due to President Xi’s policies which discourage Chinese public officials from entertaining with government funding, also affecting the restaurant business.

 

“Entertaining with public funding is much less common now,” a salesperson for a liquor store in the city of Nanjing said, according to Yangtze. “But now that the price has fallen, some private citizens are buying high-end liquor.”

 

Wuliangye, another high-end brand, saw its price fall from 900 yuan per bottle to just over 600 yuan. Ironically, this price adjustment from Maotai and Wuliangye may not help their sales.

 

“Before, Maotai was too expensive to buy as a gift,” said a shopper identified by his last name, Fang. “But now that the price has fallen, we still can’t buy it as a gift, because everyone knows how much Maotai’s price has declined.”

 

He would rather buy a mid-range brand with a stable price tag, he added. Middle-grade brands, usually priced around 300 to 400 yuan, did not have to adjust their prices even in this market, and grew in popularity. Luzhou Laojiao, a mid-range brand, increased its sales by 22 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.

 

In a suddenly bleak market, luxury baijiu producers are now turning to the Internet to help drive sales, according to Xinhua News, a state-run news agency. Many high-end brands that previously prided themselves on not being sold online are now working with Internet retailers. A few, Maotai included, have also begun selling the liquor on their own website.

 

Internet baijiu sales only make up 3 percent to 4 percent of the total baijiu market currently.

 

“In the next three to four years, Internet sales may rise to comprise 7 percent to 8 percent of the market,” said Lu Zhenwang, an e-retail analyst, according to Xinhua News.

 

 

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Diageo

 

Source: Nomura

May 31st

 

Buy, Lord Shackleton

 

Following the Pernod Asia investor event in China, Lord Shacks met with the Head of Diageo Asia in Singapore and he confirmed many of the trends discussed by Pernod – slowdown in imported spirits in China likely to continue for calendar 2013, long-term looks positive still but a wider portfolio of spirits will be necessary. Although FY13 and FY14 are seeing slower momentum, this is relatively immaterial for Diageo and is offset by strong growth in other regions (Latam, Africa). We continue to see Diageo as the best investment in spirits.

 

Asia accounts for c.10% of FY13 group EBIT and includes large positions in mature countries like Korea and Australia as well as exposure to emerging Asia. Company still targets double digit revenue growth in the region although headwinds, esp in China as well as Korea, have slowed this in FY13 (our est +6%) and for FY14 (our est +8%). As indicated on the recent Asia division call, company expects some improvement in runrate from H2 FY14. Company has always placed strong weighting on middle class growth for spirits rather than the high net worth individuals, and there is some feeling that the Pernod investor day moved Pernod closer to this approach.

 

China

Co still sees slowdown in Scotch and cal Q1 decline in baiju (-40% at Shui Jing Fang) as temporary, but is not banking on upturn until cal 2014. Wholesaler inventories in line with PY, so no big destocking issue. Co has taken Scotch pricing (+2-6%) but this has not been followed by Pernod yet. Whereas Pernod is seeking to widen its portfolio through wine/champagne in particular, Diageo is focused on other spirits where it sees better profitability (Baileys, Ketel One, Ciroc, Zacapa). Even with a wider portfolio, other competitors will struggle to compete due to lack of critical mass.

 

India

Company still expects to complete on the initial 27% stake in United Spirits by end June; with Mallya’s support for 4 years, this allows the company to take control as it intended. The gameplan remains unchanged here; company sees many US managers (ex big FMCG) as ready to pay more attention to compliance in the business in future. No strong visibility on when import tax on Scotch will be reduced, may well be now after Indian elections; ultimately co still sees enormous upside here.

 

Australia

Although beer is performing better, spirits remains very strong (spirits revenue+8%); however, this is offset by slower RTD to give overall revenue +3%. Wine is now performing less strong here.

 

Korea

Business still splits 80% traditional trade, 20% modern trade, so decline in the traditional trade continues to pull back the business into declines. For FY14 company expects this to improve.

 

Beer

Still important in some markets.  In Indonesia co uses beer distribution for spirits now; in Malaysia it does not as spirits is in a JV with Moet-Hennessy. Beer is still important in several markets; although co is unlikely to make major beer investment, it does not rule out small strategic moves. Relationship with Heineken can also be useful – co could use Heineken for spirits distribution in Myanmar where it has just entered market.

 

 

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Molson Coors Satisfies Consumer Thirst for Innovative Brews This Summer

 

Source: National Post

May 29, 2013

 

Gearing up for a hot summer, Molson Coors Brewing Company (NYSE: TAP) (TSX: TPX) is showcasing a global lineup of product innovations designed to expand its portfolio and provide consumers with the variety they want while deepening their connections to iconic brands like Coors Light, Carling, Molson Canadian and Staropramen. From the release of Third Shift Amber Lager and Molson Canadian Wheat, to a variety of Carling Zest and Leinenkugel summer brews, consumers will have everything they want to stay cool and refreshed this summer.

 

“At Molson Coors, innovation starts with the consumer, and we have to update constantly. We are in a continuous dialogue with beer drinkers and what we hear is that they like to experiment; they want interesting choices to cover a variety of occasions,” said Peter Swinburn, president and chief executive officer of Molson Coors. “With over 300 years of brewing heritage, we have a unique track record of delivering brands that are loved by generation after generation.”

 

Meeting Consumer Demand for Variety, Cold Refreshment and Natural/Local Products

 

Third Shift Amber Lager marks the first release in a series of award-winning beers brewed by the Band of Brewers – a group of talented brewers across the MillerCoors network in the U.S. This light lager is becoming a favorite among consumers thanks to its mild flavor profile that is perfect for a warm summer day. The Band of Brewers crafted Third Shift Amber Lager into a gold-medal winning, well-balanced, yet complex lager with a sweet maltiness, lightly toasted flavoring and subtle hops.

 

In February, Redd’s Apple Ale became available nationwide, following a select regional launch by MillerCoors in the summer 2012. The new apple flavored golden ale offers a crisp finish that allows the natural apple flavor to come through, making it the perfect drink choice for those looking to try something different.

 

U.S. consumers will also enjoy Blue Moon’s latest limited release, Sunshine Citrus Blonde. Blue Moon brewers crafted this beer to awaken the palates of consumers for the warmer weather of summer. Pairing the light citrus notes of this blonde brew with dishes such as summer salads, grilled pork and fruit-based desserts will create a perfect warm weather evening out on the patio.

 

In Canada, consumers can sample three new refreshing beverages this summer, beginning with the recently launched Molson Canadian Wheat. Made with all-natural ingredients like Canadian spring wheat, it is an unfiltered wheat lager that delivers a hint of malt, balanced by the fruity character of just-ripened bananas.

 

The Canadian market will also see the launch of Rickard’s Shandy, a blend of lager and classic lemonade. Shandies are popular in markets around the world, and Rickard’s looks to captivate Canada with this crisp, refreshing summer drink.

 

Lastly, this summer the Molson trademark will move outside of beer for the first time in its 226-year history with the introduction of Molson Canadian Cider. Made entirely from Canadian apples, its bold crisp flavor will feature a balanced medium sweetness and medium acidity.

 

Consumers in the Central European region are also gravitating towards combined beverages that offer the refreshment of a cider and the thirst-quenching nature of beer. In the Czech Republic, Molson Coors Europe will debut Staropramen Cool Cider Beer Mix, the world’s first low-alcohol cider beer mix that offers a moderate choice for consumers who want to stay refreshed this summer season. An additional moderate choice for Hungary consumers is the non-alcoholic beer mix Borsodi Friss Zero.

 

Another expected favorite comes from Molson Coors’ expansion of its limited edition lager for the U.K. and Ireland, Carling Zest, with a new flavor, Carling Zest with a Hint of Ginger. The latest flavor of Carling Zest offers a refreshingly mild taste of ginger and 2.8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), making it a great summer beer for a hot day. Beer drinkers in the U.K. will also enjoy several new brews from Sharp’s, beginning with Sharp’s first Connoisseur’s Choice beer of the year, Sharp’s Spiced Red.

 

Bringing Excitement to Beer Occasions

 

Last year’s successful launch of Coors Light Iced T in Canada will take on a new serving method this summer, driven by consumer inspiration and feedback. This summer, Coors Light Iced T will be “Nice with a Slice Over Ice”. Considering that tea and beer are the second and third most consumed beverages in the world after water, Coors Light Iced T adds a new twist to the trend through its unique combinations of the sweet maltiness of Coors Light – Canada’s favorite light beer – with a blend of natural tea and lemon flavors.

 

Positive consumer response has also driven the introduction of two new beer mixes in Central Europe. Capitalizing on the success of 2011 and 2012 beer mixes, such as Lemon and Grapefruit, Molson Coors Europe will introduce Bitter Orange along with Blackcurrant & Lime. Beer mixes have played a significant role in growing the beer category in the region and have been launched as extensions to the local mainstream brands in all nine markets in Central Europe.

 

 

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Coors Apologizes For Using Puerto Rico’s Flag On Beer Cans, Halts Production

 

Source: Fox News Latino

By Kacy Capobres

May 30, 2013

 

MillerCoors has issued an apology and pulled a product that became a public relations nightmare.

 

Public officials and Puerto Rican groups had expressed outrage after the company used an image of the island’s flag on a specially-made Coors Light beer can made on occasion of New York City’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.

 

MillerCoors is the main sponsor of the parade, which is on Sunday.

 

The company initially stayed mum – but the controversy continued to grow. On Thursday, MillerCoors sent a letter to “Boricuas for a Positive Image,” a group that planned protests against the company over the beer can, and said it was pulling the product from distribution.

 

“We apologize if the graphics on our promotional packaging inadvertently offended you or any other members of the Puerto Rican community,” wrote Nehl Horton, chief public affairs and communications director for MillerCoors, to one of the group’s organizers. “MillerCoors has a strong history of supporting the U.S. Latino community.”

 

He said the company was simply trying “to highlight the cultural strength and vibrancy of the Puerto Rican community.”

 

But that attempt seemed to have badly fumbled.

 

The company said it would cease distribution of the product starting Friday morning.

 

The decision comes just hours before Boricuas for a Positive Image, who started a campaign against the beer giant, was set to begin protesting outside one of the distributor headquarters in New York City. Vincent Torres, a community organizer for the group, said they were planning daily protests until the company met their demands.

 

“The Puerto Rican community and the Latino community have come together on this issue,” Torres said.

 

In a statement released last week, the New York-based community group said: “We believe Coors has insulted the Puerto Rican community by using this promotion before the parade.”

 

Along with contacting Coors directly, the group also sent a letter to Simon Bergson of Manhattan Beer Distributors asking that he “immediately stop manufacturing and/or distributing your offensive promotion.”

 

But The National Institute for Latino Policy said the beer company wasn’t the only one at fault. The group also said blame must be placed on the parade’s board of directors.

 

New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito told the the New York Daily News that the company’s decision to pull the product was a “victory.” But the Puerto Rican politician said she wasn’t entirely satisfied.

 

“I feel strongly at this time that the Board of Directors should resign and make room for new leadership for future parades,” Viverito said in a statement.

 

 

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McDonnell steps down from Patrón

 

Source: Drinks International

By Christian Davis

31 May, 2013

 

The announcement yesterday of the appointment of Dave Wilson’s appointment as Patrón Spirits’ new president of international operations and global COO, follows the surprise decision by John McDonnell to step down.

 

McDonnell told shocked staff this week that he has been in the industry for 30 years, and has decided he wants a change. He said it is “time to slow down a bit, and maybe pursue something more entrepreneurial”.

 

To most industry observers the meteoric rise of Patrón and particularly its super premium Tequila, has been down to McDonnell’s vision and entrepreneurial verve.

 

McDonnell began at Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, where he worked in domestic and international sales and marketing. McDonnell did well at Seagram with his strategic use of marketing instead of cost-cutting to increase revenue, despite difficult times – as country manager for Taiwan, his leadership is said to have turned the business around in three years from a US$13 million loss to a $21 million profit.

 

He joined Patrón and was appointed chief operating officer in January, 2005. In 2013, he relocated to the company’s headquarters in Switzerland to take on the additional role of president of Patrón’s international operations, monitoring and managing the company’s day-to-day activities both in the US and abroad, reporting to the chief executive officer. He also helped close the company’s acquisition of ultra premium Ultimat vodka and has led the company’s international and duty-free expansion into more than 130 countries and islands worldwide.

 

McDonnell’s responsibilities include overseeing Patrón’s manufacturing, sales, and marketing, including online social media. He was also involved with the company’s leadership in environmental responsibility. Patrón claims to have installed the first reverse osmosis water treatment plant in the history of Tequila in Mexico, has become one of the largest consumers of recycled glass in that country, and has been certified for years with ISO 14001 for environmental performance in reducing waste, cleaning the air, and limiting noise.

 

In February 2012, McDonnell was elected chairman of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the national trade association representing America’s leading distillers. Also in 2012, he was named to the board of trustees at Suffolk University in Boston. McDonnell is also co-owner of an entrepreneurial venture, now in its second decade: The Action Group USA, a beverage sales and marketing consulting firm.

 

On behalf of Patrón, McDonnell has been a supporter of numerous philanthropic and charitable organisations. The company works to make a difference on issues ranging from children’s health, to hunger and clean water, to the rebuilding of New Orleans. In addition, he contributes to civic and educational causes in his native Boston.

 

 

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Maker’s Mark plans ‘rinse process’ to get the last of the bourbon from its barrels

 

Bourbon demand outrunning supply

 

Source: Courier Journal

May 31, 2013   

 

Maker’s Mark plans to rinse its bourbon barrels to get as much liquor out of them as possible in yet another effort to keep up with demand for its signature whiskey.

 

The “state-of-the-art rinse process” would be part of a plan for $8.2 million in upgrades at its Loretto, Ky., distillery.

 

The move comes less than four months after Maker’s Mark, owned by Deerfield, Ill.-based Beam Inc., announced an ill-fated plan to add more water to the bourbon – decreasing its alcohol content, but stretching supply to meet strong demand worldwide. The company quickly walked back from the plan after a backlash from customers.

 

Maker’s Mark now plans to “extract additional gallons” from its barreled bourbon with the process, according to documents filed with Kentucky economic development officials to get tax credits for the upgrades in a new facility at the distillery. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority on Thursday offered Maker’s Mark $100,000 in rebates on construction materials and building fixtures if it moves forward with the plan.

 

Maker’s Mark parent Beam has already developed a process to extract “the rich whiskey trapped inside the barrels’ wood after they’re emptied,” according to Beam’s description of Devil’s Cut, a bourbon that it makes using the extracted liquor.

 

With the years required to age bourbon, distillers have to predict the market far in advance. Buffalo Trace, the Frankfort-based maker of Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle, said recently its supply isn’t keeping pace with demand. Rather than take any extraordinary measures, the company said its supplies would simply be tighter. Buffalo Trace bourbons are aged from eight to 23 years.

 

The previous Maker’s Mark effort to extend supplies by adding extra water would have reduced the alcohol content of its signature bourbon to 84 proof from 90 proof, increasing supplies by up to 6 percent.

 

Maker’s Mark, which ages its bourbon at least five years and nine months, also plans a new 50,000-barrel aging warehouse. According to the state, production of Maker’s Mark has increased 10 percent a year for the last 20 years, and “sales volume is expected to grow significantly.”

 

Maker’s Mark CEO Rob Samuels did not return a call to his Louisville office Thursday.

 

 

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Pernod Ricard Nigeria and CFAO Have Entered into a Distribution Agreement

 

Source: WEBWIRE

Friday, May 24, 2013

 

Pernod Ricard Nigeria, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard Sub-Saharan Africa established in 2010 entered into a distribution agreement covering Nigeria at the beginning of April 2013 with the CFAO Group, via its subsidiary CFAO Nigeria and its distribution subsidiary. This contract covers the Group’s entire portfolio, and particularly the Martell, ABSOLUT and Chivas Regal brands. Duty Free customers and international supermarket chains are excluded from the terms of this agreement, as these are directly managed by Pernod Ricard Nigeria, which is in charge of importing and the local marketing development for all brands in the Pernod Ricard portfolio.

 

Dariusz Opieriowiec, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Nigeria, stated: “As is the case for all Group subsidiaries in Africa, Pernod Ricard Nigeria aspires to establish healthy, sustainable positions with our new partner, in strict compliance with local laws and regulations. This distribution contract testifies to our long-term commitment to one of the most promising markets on the continent.”

 

Based in South Africa, where the Group has been firmly established since 1993, the goal of Pernod Ricard Sub-Saharan Africa is to develop the entire premium portfolio of the world’s co-leader in wines and spirits on the African continent. Driven by the middle class boom in the region, during the first half of the year Pernod Ricard reported 12% growth in the area, where the Group intends to roll out its growth model based on a portfolio of international brands, wholly-owned subsidiaries and a premiumisation strategy.

 

In 2012, Pernod Ricard Sub-Saharan Africa incorporated no less than five subsidiaries in the key African markets of Ghana, Angola, Kenya, Namibia and Nigeria since January 2013. Laurent Pillet, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Sub-Saharan Africa, concluded: “In less than one year, we have managed to open direct subsidiaries in the region’s main markets, which is a condition precedent to laying the foundations for strong and sustainable growth with our local partners.”

 

 

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United Kingdom: Huge rise in numbers treated for alcoholism

 

The number of drugs prescribed to treat alcoholism has increased by almost 75 per cent in less than a decade, new figures show.

 

Source: Daily Telegraph

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent

30 May 2013

 

Almost 180,000 prescription items were dispensed for such medication last year, a rise of 73 per cent since 2003.

 

During the same period, the number of hospital admissions related to drinking has more than doubled, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

 

Almost £3 million was spent by the NHS last year on drugs to treat such problems, including Antabuse, which causes nausea and vomiting when alcohol is consumed

 

In 2011/12, there were 1,220,300 hospital admissions in England attributed to drinking – a sharp increase from 2002/03, when the figure stood at 510,700.

 

Men accounted for 63 per cent of such cases.

 

The report shows that people in the north West were more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital because of an alcohol problem than those in the east of England.

 

Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at charity Alcohol Concern, said: “These figures show that the problems caused by alcohol misuse continue to rise, which is putting an increasing strain on our NHS.

 

She said: “The report highlights that the number of admissions to hospital for alcohol-related issues have risen by over 50 per cent in the last 10 years. The Government must get a grip and implement measures that will prevent this urgent situation from getting worse.”

 

The charity said that although increasing numbers of people are now getting drugs to help with alcohol dependency, most did not, with estimates that one in 17 people with alcohol problems receives specialist help.

 

Alan Perkins, chief executive of the HSCIC said: “Today’s report shows a substantial increase in the number of drugs prescribed for alcohol dependency compared to almost a decade ago. Today’s report illustrates the impact of alcohol misuse on hospitals in England, which will be of interest to health professionals, policymakers and the general public.”

 

A Department of Health spokesman said: “It’s encouraging to see that more people are getting help for problems with alcohol. But these figures prove that alcohol is causing harm to the health of hundreds of thousands of people and we must continue to act.

“That is why we are already improving prevention by funding alcohol risk assessments at GPs and encouraging increased access to alcohol liaison nurses in hospitals.

 

 

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Russia: Alcohol addiction could doom Putin’s dreams

 

Source: Japan Times

by Cesar Chelala

May 31, 2013

 

Russians’ love for vodka has a long history. Legend holds that vodka arrived in Moscow in the 14th century, brought by Genovese merchants to Prince Dmitry Ivanovich.

 

Legend also says that the monk Isidore, of the Chudov Monastery inside the Kremlin, made a recipe for Russian vodka around 1430. He could not have anticipated the devastating effect that alcohol addiction, mainly to vodka, would have on Russians’ health and quality of life, and on the country’s economy and social fabric.

 

When the Bolshevik Party came to power its leaders tried – without much success – to reduce alcohol consumption in the Soviet Union. Josef Stalin re-established the state monopoly to generate revenue.

 

Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1985, increased controls on alcohol consumption and imposed a partial prohibition through a massive anti-alcohol campaign. That campaign, which included severe penalties against public drunkenness and alcohol consumption, as well as restrictions on liquor sales, was temporarily successful. It reduced per capita consumption and improved quality-of-life measures such as life expectancy and reduced hospital admissions. But the population disliked the policy and it had to be abandoned, its consequences felt again soon afterward.

 

Periodically reports surface on the great number of people who die as a result of consuming fake vodka and other alcohol substitutes. It is estimated that more than 40,000 Russians die every year after drinking toxic liquids that include medical disinfectants, after-shave lotions and other dangerous substances.

 

Today, the average Russian drinks the equivalent of 18 liters of pure alcohol a year, mostly as vodka and other black market moonshine called samogon. According to the World Health Organization, this consumption is far above what is considered safe to drink and greater than in any other nation in the world.

 

Russia has now one of the highest rates of alcohol-related illness, including long-term neurological, cardiovascular, psychiatric and liver problems.

 

In the short term, and generally as a result of binge drinking, several kinds of injuries and conditions follow: violence, risky sexual behavior (including unprotected sex), alcohol poisoning as well as miscarriages and stillbirths.

 

The connection between excessive drinking and interpersonal violence cannot be overstated. But due to social tolerance of violent behavior and incomplete or inaccurate information, official statistics record only a small percentage of violence. Some, however, are worrying. Among male perpetrators of spousal homicide, 60 to 75 percent of offenders had been drinking heavily before the incident.

 

Among young men, the risk of suicide is five times higher for heavy drinkers and nine times higher for alcoholics. Although men drink more than women, excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in the child developing fetal alcohol syndrome or showing fetal alcohol effects that are associated with delinquent and violent behavior later in life.

 

Russians’ poor health status has translated in a short life expectancy. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Population Division, life expectancy for males in Russia is 61.56; for females it is 74.03. These figures are 17 years lower than in the Western European population. By contrast, for Japan the figures are 79.29 and 86.96, respectively.

 

In June 2009, the Public Chamber of Russia estimated 500,000 alcohol-related deaths in the country annually. This figure highlights a very serious situation particularly taking into consideration that the country is going through a severe demographic crisis: It is estimated that its population will drop 20 percent by 2050.

 

Although no precise figures are available, the direct and indirect costs of alcohol abuse in Russia can be considerable. Unless stronger measures are taken soon, Vladimir Putin’s dreams of a greater Russia will not be realized. The situation was aptly described by Oliver Bullough in his book “The Last Man in Russia”: “One man’s alcoholism is his own tragedy. A whole nation’s alcoholism is a tragedy too, but also a symptom of something far larger, of a collective breakdown.”

 

 

——

Scientists suggest beer after a workout

 

Source: The Washington Times

By Jessica Chasmar

May 31st

 

Researchers at Granada University in Spain have found that beer can help the body rehydrate better after a workout than water or Gatorade.

 

Professor Manuel Garzon also claimed the carbonation in beer helps to quench the thirst and that its carbohydrate content can help replace lost calories, The Telegraph reports.

 

The study involved a group of students who were asked to work out until their body temperature reached 104 degrees. Researchers then gave beer to half of the students and water to the other half.

 

Mr. Garzon announced the results at a press conference in Granada, saying the hydration effect in those who drank beer was “slightly better,” The Telegraph reports.

 

A cardiologist with the Real Madrid football team, Dr. Juan Antonio Corbalan, told the paper he long has recommended barley drinks to professional sportsmen after exhausting activities.

 

 

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American Craft Distillers Association Welcomes Republic National Distributing Company as First Distributing Partner and Founding Sponsor

 

Source: ACDA

May 30th

 

Craft distilling is a powerful new phenomenon that is sweeping the country and Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC), the nation’s second largest premium wine and spirits distributor, sees a vibrant future for the entrepreneurs and artisans that are driving it. To help these distillers achieve their goals, RNDC announced its support of the American Craft Distillers Association (ACDA) through a commitment as a Founding Sponsor – the first distributer to carry the distinction.

 

As “craft” in all its forms continues to evolve and reshape the marketplace, the channels to market will become ever more important. As Penn Jensen, Executive Director of ACDA notes, “the strategic role of a high-profile distributor such as RNDC will be crucial to the sustainable growth of these burgeoning new brands.”

 

“At RNDC, we’re proud to support the entrepreneurs and artisans who are creating a dynamic new market with innovative products,” states Ken Rosenberg, RNDC Vice President of Wine & Craft Spirits. “As a leader in our industry – and the first distributor to join ACDA as a Founding Sponsor – we’re committed to providing critical business knowledge about the distribution tier to help Craft Distillers get their products to market and work within the sophisticated three-tier system of the United States.”

 

Ten years ago there were fewer than 60 craft distillers in the United States. According to current estimates, there may be as many as 1000 licensed distillers in North America by 2015. The range of products crosses a wide array of categories, from absinthe to whiskey and all points in between. The analogy is clear when one compares craft distilling to craft brewing. Craft brewing is one of the strongest beverage categories, growing at 25% per year and now, according to the Brewers’ Association, with total sales soaring above $10 billion annually.

 

ACDA was founded in 2013 by a prestigious group of artisan distillers to create a network of like-minded professionals to promote craft distilling and to seek favorable business environments in which to grow their brands.

 

“Craft distillers need a trade organization,” Jensen states. “And they need a friend in distribution with the knowledge and reach of RNDC to educate about this vital tier. We’re honored to welcome them on board.”

 

As part of the sponsorship, RNDC will also provide valuable information about the distribution tier in ACDA’s “Ask the Expert” section, which is available to members seeking sustainable solutions about a particular topic.

 

For more information about ACDA, visit americancraftdistillersassociation.org.

 

 

——

Angostura: 10 Cane Rum did not bring sufficient returns

 

Source: The Guardian

Raphael John-Lall

Thursday, May 30, 2013

 

Angostura decided not to renew its contract with luxury giant Moet Hennessy to produce 10 Cane Rum in T&T because the premium rum was not generating sufficient business. In a statement yesterday, Angostura said: “After almost a decade working with Moet Hennessey, Angostura decided not to renew the contracts since it did not bring the returns necessary to continue the business.” The company said they had started to close down operations years ago.

 

“Part of the operations for 10 Cane rum was actually closed for a few years because of insufficient demand. We worked with their team on relocation and wish them all the success in the future,” Angostura said. The Paris-based Moet Hennessy, one of the world’s leading wine and spirit groups, moved its production of its 10 Cane rum brand from Trinidad to the Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados. This is expected to pour in as much as US $50 million in foreign exchange in the Barbados economy.

 

Sir David Seale, chairman, Foursquare Rum Distillery, in announcing the agreement, described it as “Barbados’ gain over T&T”, Barbados Industry Minister, Donville Inniss said Barbados is not a low-cost location for manufacturing and as a result they have to tap into the niche areas and rum is a product that is synonymous with Barbados and they will have to exploit fully the rum industry.

 

In welcoming the deal earlier this week, Foursquare’s managing Director Richard Seale said the future development of Barbados partly rested on the rum industry. He said the contract with Moet Hennessy could result in many indirect jobs, increased economic activity and between ten per cent and 30 per cent more exports. “This brand has the short potential to sell in the region of two to three hundred thousand cases and to become a major global brand when you want it to sell a million cases,” he added.

 

The rum, launched in T&T in 2005, is made from first press sugar cane juice and it is known as a “rhum agricole,” since it’s distilled from the cane juice instead of the more common molasses. It is called 10 Cane because it supposedly takes ten sugar cane stalks to make one bottle of the rum.

 

 

——

Blavod Wines and Spirits PLC Acquisition of Blackwood’s, Diva and Jago Brands

 

Source: WSJ

May 31st

 

Blavod Wines & Spirits plc (AIM:BES), the AIM quoted owner of premium drinks brands is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Blackwood’s, Jago’s and Diva brands.

 

Background

Blavod acquired licences to distribute these brands in May, July and October 2008 respectively from the vendor, the administrator of Shetland Spirit Company Limited (in Administration).

 

The terms of the Diva and Jago’s brands’ licences provided for four year licence terms, now expired, and following which Blavod has acquired the brands for GBP1 each from the vendor.

 

The terms of the Blackwood’s licence provided for a profit share with the vendor from the third year post acquisition through to the end of the seventh year and also gave Blavod the option to acquire the intellectual property rights at certain pre-specified dates for GBP1. The Company has reached agreement with the vendor for an early exercise of the option for the early acquisition of Blackwood’s Gin and Vodka for a cash consideration of GBP50,000. In the latest period for which audited financial information is available, the year ended 31 March 2012, the Blackwood’s licence was responsible for GBP358k of sales net of duty and GBP102k of contribution.

 

Commenting today, Don Goulding, Executive Chairman of Blavod said:

 

“We continue to focus on shareholder value through the development of owned brands of which Blackwood’s is our number one profit contributor. The acquisition of this brand together with Diva and Jago’s provides us with the platform and incentive to accelerate further growth of these brands in the UK and internationally.”

 

 

——

Christie’s withdraws suspect DRC from New York auction

 

Source: Decanter

by Chris Mercer

Thursday 30 May 2013

 

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s co-owner, Aubert de Villaine, has praised Christie’s for withdrawing a magnum of La Tâche 1962 from auction at the eleventh hour, due to concerns it is a fake.

 

Christie’s confirmed to Decanter.com that it has removed the magnum ‘of its own accord’ from its fine and rare wines auction taking place in New York over 30 and 31 May.

 

It is understood to have pulled the wine, which carried a top estimate of US$24,000 excluding buyer’s premium, in the past couple of days.

 

‘The lot in question has been withdrawn from sale to allow time for in-person inspection by additional third-party experts,’ said a Christie’s spokesperson.

 

‘In keeping with our multi-step process for authentication, we have already been in contact with the domaine regarding the variations in labelling that often come with wines of this era.’

 

Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, welcomed the decision. While he has only seen a photo of the magnum in question, he said there were ‘justified doubts’ over some aspects of the labelling and bottle cap.

 

‘It is therefore right that Christie’s has withdrawn [this wine] from sale pending a more complete expert opinion,’ he told Decanter.com.

 

Doubts about the magnum’s authenticity were raised by lawyer and Burgundy collector Don Cornwell, via a forum post on the Wine Berserkers website.

 

Cornwell listed various errors with the label as shown in the Christie’s catalogue, including a circumflex over the ‘a’ in ‘Tâche’, which should not be there on a 1962 vintage.

 

He added that not all of the type on the label aligns, and questioned the wax bottled cap. Magnums of this vintage would normally have a foil cap.

 

He also suggested the magnum may have originated from alleged wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan, because the defects ‘are identical’ to several of the pre-1978 DRC bottles sourced by Kurniawan – including those withdrawn from a Spectrum Wine Auctions and Vanquish sale in February 2012.

 

Kurniawan is currently awaiting trial in the US and is known as ‘Dr Conti’ for his supposed in-depth knowledge of DRC wines. De Villaine is due to testify at the trial via video-link.

 

 

——

Sonoma producers protest new labelling law

 

Source: Decanter

by Courtney Humiston in Sonoma

Thursday 30 May 2013

 

Small producers in Sonoma County are angered by new legislation requiring them to label their wines Sonoma County even if they are part of specific sub-appellations.

 

Under the new law, which comes into force on 1 January 2014, a Russian River Valley producer will to also have indicate the broader and geographically diverse ‘Sonoma County’, which spans 400,000ha and includes 15 sub-AVAs on the front label.

 

‘The danger of this is very real,’ said Scott Rich of Talisman Wines, who makes single-vineyard-designate Pinot Noir throughout Sonoma County.

 

‘Mandatory conjunctive labeling has the potential to elevate the image of a few large producers of mid-value, mass-produced wines at the expense of many smaller producers of high-value, hand-crafted wines.’

 

Sonoma County Vintners, the group responsible for pushing the legislation through, argues that conjunctive labeling will ‘build brand equity’ and ‘ensure that consumers understand where they are.’ Napa Valley enacted similar legislation in 1990.

 

‘The fact that there are those few of us making excellent appellation-specific wine in Sonoma County is exactly why the county wants to force us into the fold,’ says Jake Hawkes, a multi-generational grower and winemaker in Alexander Valley.

 

‘Our wines are pretty good and pretty expensive and I’d rather not have them associated with the ocean of dross out there.’

 

Then there is the question of redundancy. Ken Freeman of Freeman Vineyard & Winery and board president of West Sonoma Coast Vintners said, ‘We already have Sonoma Coast on the label so adding Sonoma County seems a little redundant.’

 

Rich agreed, explaining that one of his wines will have the word ‘Sonoma’ three times on the label: Sonoma Valley sub-AVA, the County and the city.

 

A recent study reported on Decanter.com found this can cause confusion for consumers.

 

The law came into force in January 2011, with a three-year voluntary ‘phase-in period’ during which wineries could choose whether or not to participate. Any wineries not in compliance after 1 January 2014 could lose their license.

 

 

——

France under fire over presidential wine sale

 

Source: France 24

May 30th

 

President Francois Hollande has been accused of selling off France’s national heritage with an auction of hundreds of bottles of fine wine from the cellars of the Elysee Palace.

 

A total of 1,200 bottles, including some of the world’s most prestigious labels, were due to go under the hammer from Thursday evening in a sale that has become symbolic of the cash-strapped government’s austerity drive.

 

Officially, the purpose of the auction is to liberate funds to rejuvenate the presidential collection but officials have also stressed that the proceeds will be invested in more modest replacements and that any surplus will be ploughed back into government coffers.

 

The conspicuous cost-cutting is in keeping with the tone of Hollande’s presidency, which has been clouded by a gloomy economic backdrop.

 

But it has not gone down well with Michel-Jack Chasseuil, one of France’s most prominent wine collectors.

 

Chasseuil has written to Hollande to express his regret over the decision to allow bottles “that are part of the heritage of our country to be sold off to billionaires from all over the world”.

 

He added: “Even if they go for fantastic sums, it will be a derisory amount in terms of the national budget and when you think about what these wines represent in the eyes of the whole world.”

 

Dealers and private collectors from all over the globe have expressed interest in the sale and high prices are anticipated because of the bottles’ novelty value.

 

The sale includes wines from every major region in France as well as a number of bottles from two of the most prestigious, and expensive, estates in the world — Bordeaux’s Chateau Petrus and Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.

 

Two bottles of Petrus from the outstanding 1990 vintage have been given a guide price of between 2,200 and 2,500 euros ($2,850-$3,250), based on current valuations in the fine wine world.

 

In practice, they are likely to go for far more because of their unique provenance and because they are guaranteed to have been kept in optimum conditions for ageing in the Elysee cellars.

 

There will also be keen interest in the prices achieved by two bottles of Chateau Latour, a 1936 that is the oldest wine in the sale, and one from 1961, regarded as one of the outstanding Bordeaux vintages of the 20th century.

 

“It is a sale loaded with symbolism and I’m intrigued to see what the outcome will be,” Ghislaine Kapandji, the auctioneer in charge of the sale, told AFP.

 

The sale represents 10 percent of the 12,000 bottles currently held in the Elysee cellar, which has been regularly replenished since it was established in 1947.

 

Each bottle included in the auction has been given a special additional label certifying that they came from the “Palais de l’Elysee” with the date of the sale, which will conclude on Friday.

 

 

——

Lot18 Co-Founder Philip James Departs And Heads On A 12 Month Bike Ride Around The World

 

Source: Business Insider

Alyson Shontell

May 30, 2013

 

Last summer, Kevin Fortuna left the wine sale startup, Lot18, that he and Philip James started. Today, Philip James announced his departure from the New York company as well.

 

For the past few months, James has been helping Lot18’s new CEO, Jay Sung, get up and running. The pair have made a number of strategic decisions about the direction of the company, which have included more lay-offs, acquiring Tasting Room, and shuttering verticals that weren’t working.

 

Lot18 suffered a number of growing pains that stemmed from harsh, state-by-state regulations surrounding alcohol, particularly in New York. And like many e-commerce companies, Lot18 used a discount model to acquire customers, spending an unsustainable amount on marketing.

 

But there’s still money in the bank from the massive $30 million Series C round Lot18 raised, and James feels he’s left Sung in good shape to figure the business model out.

 

“Having hired and worked alongside Jay for the past year, I am pleased to say that the company is in great hands,” James says. “Jay is an excellent executive and I’ve always been a fan of how he thinks. I’m now focused on what’s coming next for me, and for that I’m excited, and a little nervous.”

 

Up next for the three-time entrepreneur: a two-month bike ride throughout Siberia as part of a 12-month bike ride around the world. James is a fan of extreme sports. He has climbed Mount Everest and sailed across the Atlantic.

 

Here’s the email James just sent to his team:

 

Lot18ers:

 

Friday marks my last day as an employee at Lot18. But without spoiling the ending, I’ll still be around, both in my role as a director on the board and as a consultant.

 

Obviously, things have progressed since the original conversation with Kevin when I said, “I have an idea that involves selling wine online,” and it’s been an eventful three years with many highs and lows. But ultimately, I wanted to leave you all with the following.

 

I was taught that it’s a leader’s job to do three things:

 

– Hire and retain talent

 

What can I say here? You guys are the killer team. From Jay on down, I’m proud to be a part of this organization. From our wine expertise to our tech chops to the marketing group that joined a year ago, I’d put us up against any company out there.

 

– Set company strategy

 

Ignoring the overhyped word “pivot,” Lot18 has evolved considerably since it first began offering US wines via flash sale. From centralizing shipping to improving customer service to leveraging an incredibly complex network in order to provide international wines (and to ensure the customer could receive wines from different producers in the same box), we’ve forged new paths, raised hackles and worked hard to delight our members. More recently, the acquisition of Tasting Room and the acquisition of retail licenses prove that we’re thinking on our feet, we’re nimble and we’re ready to adapt to changing regulations and customer demand.  

 

– Ensure the company has money in the bank

 

We did a great job raising money through the A, B and C rounds. But most importantly, when most companies are raising money every year, we’re 18 months out from our last fundraising round and still have plenty of capital in the bank. The recent, difficult but necessary, decisions have further strengthened our position here.

 

Those three things, important as they are, live within an all-encompassing rule many of you know that I tend to work and play by, which is, “Leave something in a better state than you found it.” Not only do I believe this is the case with the company, but it’s the adage that’s guiding the somewhat unusual – yet appropriate – plan I have next.

 

As you know, I spend a lot of time outdoors, and have undertaken some major expeditions in the past. Starting in June, I’ll be riding my motorcycle around the world in order to raise money for Wine to Water (http://winetowater.org/), a charity that supports water projects in 15 countries around the world.

 

The support of water- and famine-focused charities has been in Lot18’s blood since day one. From Kevin’s continued involvement in Concern Worldwide to Lot18’s support of Charity: Water, I, and we, have cared about helping those most in need.   

 

I’ll travel west, first across the United States and into Canada. From there I’ll ship my bike to Russia, ride across Siberia during its brief summer, cross Central Asia and the Celestial Mountains, then enter Eastern Europe. After a brief recovery there, I’ll head south to Tangiers and across the Sahara before I follow the west coast of Africa down to Cape Town. This will be an incredibly hard journey covering close to 50,000 kilometers (or more than 30,000 miles to many of you), covering over 50 countries. I’ll visit some of the most desolate and destitute areas of the world to raise awareness for and assist in providing the aid these places require, but also to inform and inspire me on one or more of the entrepreneurial endeavors I hope to take on after my journey.

 

You’ll be able to follow me at my expedition blog wineandwater.org, and on that page you can donate to Wine to Water as well. 100% of all proceeds raised will go directly to Wine to Water. Please know that as little as $0.10 can provide clean water to one person for a year. It’s easy to make a difference, and I hope that in this way you can share in the excitement of this journey.

 

I have so many friends at Lot18, and I’m ever so keen to see how each of you grows over the coming years.

 

Onward and thank you all,

 

Philip

 

 

——

Bordeaux’s Philosopher Vigneron

 

Source: WSJ

By WILL LYONS

May 30th

 

THE GRAPE ARGUMENT Bordeaux’s François Mitjaville is adamant that making wine is simply farming.

 

TO SPEND A FEW HOURS in the company of Bordeaux winemaker François Mitjaville is to touch on philosophy, the concept of civilization, the language of flavors, the brushwork of Picasso and the simplicity of terroir.

 

His style is like no other. Visitors to his small château, Tertre Rôteboeuf, high above the slopes of Saint-Laurent, just outside of Saint-Émilion, are advised to make it their last visit of the day. If they don’t, they will almost certainly miss their next appointment. A quick, 20-minute visit can easily stretch into the night as Mr. Mitjaville scurries around, pipette in hand, holding court and pouring wines from his many barrels.

 

But those who make the journey almost always return surprised by the man, his wines and their distinctive character.

 

Mr. Mitjaville, 65, wasn’t born into a winemaking dynasty. He grew up in Paris and it wasn’t until he was in his late 20s that he had the opportunity to take over the then-failing Château de Tertre. Before that he worked in his wife’s family’s wine-haulage business-and perhaps it is this foundation that keeps him grounded. For, despite his philosophical bent, Mr. Mitjaville is adamant that making wine is simply farming.

 

Good terroir, he argues, isn’t an intellectual concept-it is simply a place where the flavors of the fruit produced from the vine are better; with wine it is grapes but, he says, we could easily be talking about potatoes. “With wine, we are in front of a natural produce and when we are in front of a natural produce you don’t try and paint Guernica,” he says. “You don’t choose the colors of your painting; you don’t choose the flavor of your fruit. You are stupid if you think I am a creator.”

 

Perhaps so, but anyone who has come across his wines will tell you that they belie their provenance. Although they are made with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the smell is evocative of red Burgundy-a wine created from Pinot Noir. One scribbles down notes of sweet cherry, spice, dried figs, sometimes a floral element and sometimes tobacco. Texturally, they are very light, easy to digest and-dare I say it-dangerously easy to drink. It isn’t surprising that in wine circles Mr. Mitjaville retains a cult following.

 

“Wine has not to be impressive, it has to be emotional.”

 

A great wine, he says, is something civilized. By this he means a wine that invites you to drink it. He rails against the modern practice of making wine that is big, massively extracted with fruit and high alcohol. For Mr. Mitjaville, a wine should have concentration of flavor but in essence it should be delicate, reflecting the subtleties of the land where it is grown.

 

To talk about the strength, the power, something impressive, is to miss the point. “All these modern words pass by the real beauty of the flavors,” he says. “Wine has not to be impressive, it has to be emotional; it has to make you dream.”

 

Mark Savage, who has been importing Château Tertre Rôteboeuf since the late 1970s, says part of Mr. Mitjaville’s secret is minute attention to detail and a lot of man-hours per vine. This, and an understanding of the land he works. Which means it is a good wine to buy in difficult vintages-as Mr. Mitjaville says: “Good terroir jumps over the difficulties of the climate.”

 

 

——

If Only the Grapes Were the Whole Story

 

Source: New York Times

By ERIC ASIMOV

May 30, 2013

 

Wine has been described as the perfect beverage because the grapes contain all the ingredients necessary to create their transformation. Put grapes in a vat and over time, the yeasts coating the skins set alchemy in motion, converting the sugar in the juice into alcohol.

 

The producers who take part in RAW are required to list any additives and processing techniques they have used in their wines.

 

It was just this sort of unbidden fermentation that inspired humans so long ago to spend the next few millenniums improving their methods of winemaking.

 

A few wines are still made in this way, or at least in approximation, with no other ingredients except the possible addition of sulfur dioxide, which has been used for eons as a stabilizer and preservative. Yet it’s no secret that many wines (most, in fact) include a lot more than grapes, yeast and sulfur. The list in some cases can be staggering.

 

Forget about the often poisonous chemicals used in the vineyards, which can leave residue on the grapes. In the winery alone, before fermentation even begins, enzymes may be added to speed up the removal of solid particles from the juice, to amplify desirable aromas while eliminating disagreeable ones, to intensify the color of red wines and to clarify the color of whites.

 

It doesn’t stop there. Other additives can be used to enhance a wine’s texture, to add or subtract tannins or simply to adjust quality. Winemakers can select specific yeasts and special nutrients to keep those yeasts working. They can add oak extracts for flavor and further tannin adjustment, and compounds derived from grape juice to fix color, texture and body. They can add sugar to lengthen the fermentation, increasing the alcohol content; add acid if it’s lacking, add water if the alcohol level is too high. Or they can send the wine through a reverse osmosis machine or other heavy equipment to diminish the alcohol and eliminate other undesirable traits, like volatile acidity.

 

For all of its natural, pastoral connotations, wine can very much be a manufactured product, processed to achieve a preconceived notion of how it should feel, smell and taste, and then rolled off the assembly line, year after year, as consistent and denatured as a potato chip or fast-food burger.

 

Yet we pay little attention to wine’s added ingredients, even as we have become hyper-conscious about what we eat. Twenty years ago, many Americans may have enjoyed food indiscriminately, but now they weigh the nutritional, environmental, humanitarian, aesthetic and even political consequences of what they cook and consume. Isn’t it time to devote the same careful attention to the wine we drink?

 

It’s no simple task. Unlike processed foods, wine is not required to have its ingredients listed on the label. This contributes to the belief that any wine is elemental, like fruits, vegetables and meats, and can’t be broken down into constituent parts. That’s far from the truth.

 

“It is very surprising how many discerning foodies will drink mass-produced, highly processed wines without batting an eyelid,” Isabelle Legeron, an educator and consultant who holds the rare title master of wine, wrote in an e-mail. “They just haven’t engaged with wine in the same way, yet.”

 

For the last two years, Ms. Legeron has held RAW, a fair in London that brings together producers of artisanal and natural wines with others in the trade and the public. All producers who take part are required to list any additives and processing techniques they have used.

 

“With RAW, we are really trying to raise awareness about transparency,” she said. “We want to prompt people to ask questions.”

 

The first question might be: Why are wineries so reluctant to document what does into their wines? Ingredient labeling is voluntary, and very few wineries have stepped up. Bonny Doon Vineyard, Shinn Estate Vineyards and Ridge Vineyards deserve applause as notable exceptions.

 

Many wineries try to explain away their reluctance by arguing that consumers will be confused by long lists of ingredients, or even a short list of traditional but unexpected substances that have been used in winemaking for centuries. For example, artisanal producers who disdain adding enzymes may still try to clarify their wines with egg whites or isinglass, which is derived from fish bladders. Certainly vegans might want to know that information.

 

The fact is, some consumers make conscious decisions not to buy products when they see what goes into making them. I don’t want added sweeteners pervading the groceries I buy, for example. I love peanut butter, but won’t buy it if it contains anything more than peanuts and salt. Don’t all consumers deserve the same opportunity to make informed, considered judgments about wine?

 

At the same time, other consumers – the vast majority – continue to buy processed foods regardless of mysterious ingredients. They are motivated by costs, convenience and sensory gratification, or maybe they just don’t care. No doubt the same will be true with wine.

 

It’s not apparent whether additives in wine pose public-health risks. Nonetheless, if we want foods that are minimally processed, authentic expressions of what they purport to be (like cheese rather than processed cheese), then we want to be able to distinguish between wines that are relatively unmanipulated and those that are industrial products.

 

Most wineries have no interest in full disclosure. Just as with food manufacturers, they will have to be dragged into some form of honest representation of their product. Sadly, the responsibility is left largely to consumers to monitor what they buy and drink.

 

As a first step, it helps to think of wine as food. Concerns about where food comes from and how it’s grown, processed or raised ought to be extended to wine. If we ourselves don’t set standards for quality and authenticity, who will?

 

 

——

House broker raises concerns over Tesco’s recovery

 

Source: FT

By Andrea Felsted, Senior Retail Correspondent

May 30th

 

Concerns are rising that Tesco’s nascent recovery in the UK is stalling, after its house broker said it expected domestic sales to start falling again.

 

JPMorgan Cazenove, joint broker to Tesco, on Thursday forecast a 0.6 per cent decline in UK sales from stores open at least a year in the three months to May 25. Other analysts with a strong record of forecasting developments at Tesco estimate the decline at up to 1 per cent.

 

In the three months to February 23, Tesco’s like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT rose 0.5 per cent.

 

Shares in Tesco, which in April reported the biggest decline in profits in its history, fell 5 3/4p, or 1.5 per cent, to 367 ¼ p, in a market up 0.5 per cent.

 

The stalling sales growth comes at a delicate time for Tesco, which last year committed £1bn to its operations in the UK – which still accounts for about two-thirds of sales and profits – after its first profit warning in 20 years in January 2012. It also underlines the perilous state of UK consumer demand, with Tesco taking about £1 in every £8 spent on shopping in the UK. Recent retail figures from the CBI were also weak.

 

Jaime Vazquez, analyst at JPMorgan Cazenove, said the conditions in the UK grocery sector “do not bode well for the industry and, as a result, for Tesco”.

 

He said Tesco’s price matching scheme, together with an anticipated pick-up in sales as the horse meat scandal subsided, had been expected to improve sales.

 

As well as the impact of the horsemeat scandal, Tesco has also been grappling with weak sales of non-food items. It is revamping this area, and starting to sell more upmarket products to try to compete more effectively with rivals such as John Lewis.

 

Mr Vazquez said the company was planning a relaunch of its non-food range this summer and autumn.

 

As well as declining sales in the UK, JPMorgan Cazenove is also forecasting a 5 per cent decline in like-or-like sales in central Europe, and a 4 per cent decline in Asia, where Tesco is still suffering from restrictions on opening hours in Korea, and difficult conditions in China.

 

The FT reported earlier this month that Tesco was eyeing a joint venture in China .

 

 

——

Costco reaps solid Q3

 

Source: RT

By Vivian Gomez

May 30, 2013

 

A $62 million tax benefit in the second quarter, alongside a portion of a special cash dividend Costco received in December 2012, helped bolster the company’s net income for the first 36 weeks of fiscal 2013, ended May 12.

 

Costco’s net income for the quarter was $459 million, compared to $386 million for the same period last year. The company reported net sales of $24 billion for the third quarter, an 8% increase from $22 billion for the same period last year. Net sales for the first 36 weeks were $71 billion, likewise up 8% from $66 billion last year.

 

Costco currently operates 627 warehouses, including 449 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 85 in Canada, 33 in Mexico, 24 in the United Kingdom, 15 in Japan, 9 in Taiwan, 9 in Korea and 3 in Australia.

 

The company plans to open up to an additional nine new warehouses prior to the end of its fiscal year on September 1. Costco also operates e-commerce websites in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

 

 

——

Ex-Microsoft manager plans to create first U.S. marijuana brand

 

Source: Reuters

By Jonathan Kaminsky

Thu, May 30 2013

 

A former Microsoft executive plans to create the first U.S. national marijuana brand, with cannabis he hopes to eventually import legally from Mexico, and said he was kicking off his business by acquiring medical pot dispensaries in three U.S. states.

 

Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, said he envisions his Seattle-based enterprise becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis – much like Starbucks is the dominant name in coffee, he said.

 

Shively, 45, whose six years at Microsoft ended in 2009, said he was soliciting investors for $10 million in start-up money.

 

The use, sale and possession of marijuana remains illegal in the United States under federal law. Two U.S. states have, however, legalized recreational marijuana use and are among 18 states that allow it for medical use.

 

“It’s a giant market in search of a brand,” Shively said of the marijuana industry. “We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide.”

 

A 2005 United Nations report estimated the global marijuana trade to be valued at $142 billion. here

 

Washington state and Colorado became the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana when voters approved legalization in November.

 

Shively laid out his plans, along with his vision for a future in which marijuana will be imported from Mexico, at a Thursday news conference in downtown Seattle.

 

Joining him was former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime Shively acquaintance who has been an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana. Fox said he was there to show his support for Shively’s company but has no financial stake in it.

 

“What a difference it makes to have Jamen here sitting at my side instead of Chapo Guzman,” said Fox, referring to the fact he would rather see Shively selling marijuana legally than the Mexican drug kingpin selling it illegally. “This is the story that has begun to be written here.”

 

Shively told Reuters he hoped Fox would serve an advisory role in his enterprise, dubbed Diego Pellicer after Shively’s hemp-producing great grandfather.

 

The sale of cannabis or marijuana remains illegal in much of the world although countries mainly in Europe and the Americas have decriminalized the possession of small quantities of it. A larger number of countries have decriminalized or legalized cannabis for medical use.

 

SKEPTICISM

 

Shively acknowledges that his business plans conflict with U.S. federal law and are complicated by regulations in both Washington state and Colorado. He said he is interested in buying dispensaries that comply with local and state rules and are less likely to attract the scrutiny of authorities.

 

“If they want to come talk to me, I’ll be delighted to meet with them,” he said of federal officials. “I’ll tell them everything that we’re doing and show them all our books.”

 

Washington state’s marijuana consultant, Mark Kleiman, said he was skeptical of Shively’s plans, and feared that the businessman is seeking to profit off others’ addiction.

 

“It’s very hard for me to understand why anybody seriously interested in being in the marijuana business, which after all is against the federal law, would so publicly announce his conspiracy to break that law,” said Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, referred questions to the Department of Justice headquarters. Department officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

 

Washington state Representative Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat, sees promise in Shively’s initiative. Any industry emerging from the shadows will inevitably undergo consolidation – and thereby simplify the task of regulators, he said.

 

“The fact that an entrepreneur is publicly pushing the envelope around a branding and value-based pricing opportunity, I would say that’s in the water in Seattle,” said Carlyle, chairman of the House Finance Committee. “That’s in our DNA … We could have predicted that as much as the rain.”

 

Shively said he has already acquired the rights to the Northwest Patient Resource Center, a medical marijuana operation that includes two Seattle store fronts. He added that he was close to acquiring another dispensary in Colorado, as well as two more each in Washington state and California, with the owners given the option to retain a stake in their businesses.

 

“We’ve created the first risk-mitigated vehicles for investing directly in this business opportunity,” he said.

 

Shively said he ultimately plans to create separate medical and recreational-use marijuana brands. Shively said he also plans to launch a study of the effectiveness of concentrated cannabis oil in the treatment of cancer and other illnesses.

 

 

——

Texas: High spirits: Texas liquor distillers get OK to sell on site

 

Texas liquor distillers such as Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Ranger Creek Brewing & Distillery will be able to sell their wares on site after the governor signed Senate Bill 905 into law.

 

Source: Austin Business Journal

James Jeffrey

May 30th

 

Liquor distillers in Texas will be able to sell their wares on site thanks to a bill signed into law by the governor.

 

Senate Bill 905 – authored by State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio – enables a distiller’s and rectifier’s permit holder to sell distilled spirits to consumers for consumption on the permitted premises and off the property.

 

Stakeholders were consulted during work sessions in 2012 to formulate effective legislation and included the likes of Austin’s Tito’s Handmade Vodka and rum-making Treaty Oak Distillery, and San Antonio’s whiskey-making Ranger Creek Brewing & Distillery.

 

Van de Putte, along with other lawmakers, also championed legislation to provide similar opportunities to craft beer brewers.

 

Another bill of Van de Putte’s, SB 642, also signed into law, will permit a distiller’s and rectifier’s permit holder to sell bulk alcohol to holders of industrial permits. Previously, the holder of an industrial permit could only buy distilled spirits at retail establishments for use in food production.

 

SB 652, again by Van de Putte and currently waiting for the governor’s signature, aims to allow the transfer of alcoholic beverages for manufacturing purposes between certain permit and license holders. Under current law, a distillery may only buy bulk distilled spirits from out-of-state distilleries

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