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September 26, 2008

U.S. Drinkers Are Cutting Back, Pernod Reports

David Kesmodel - WSJ - Sept 26 - 2008

Top executives at Pernod Ricard SA said Thursday that Americans are cutting back on purchases of its liquor products in bars and some are seeking cheaper brands when buying alcohol at stores, in a sign of a worsening economy.

"There's no question there are some negative numbers" in the bar and restaurant segment, Paul Duffy, chief executive of the French drinks titan's U.S. arm, said at a New York news briefing.

Sales at grocery stores and other retail outlets continue to grow at healthy rates, but there has been "some tick up in trading down" to less-expensive brands, Mr. Duffy said. In an interview, he added, "We wouldn't characterize [the shifts] as a crisis."

The alcohol industry tends to outperform other sectors in economic downturns, but Pernod is the latest company to highlight problems in the U.S. as consumers fret about weak housing and credit markets and other financial woes. Beer maker MillerCoors LLC and distiller Fortune Brands Inc. have reported negative impacts from the economy this year.

The Pernod executives didn't reveal specific numbers, but Mr. Duffy said certain brands are seeing sales drops in the bar and restaurant segment of as much as 8%.

Pierre Pringuet, managing director at Pernod, said the company's strong lineup of brands, such as fast-growing Jameson Irish Whiskey, would help it weather economic troubles in the U.S. and elsewhere. He said Pernod's acquisition in July of Absolut vodka "is exactly what we need to enhance the portfolio" to meet such challenges.

Messrs. Duffy and Pringuet said Pernod didn't plan major changes for Absolut, which it acquired through its $8.3 billion purchase of Swedish-state-owned Vin & Sprit AB. However, they said, marketing for Absolut would focus more heavily on the version of Absolut in the familiar original blue-accented bottle. Absolut in recent years has introduced a number of flavored vodkas.

Making the Absolut acquisition a success is critical for Pernod, which paid a hefty price for the brand. Absolut's U.S. market share has dipped recently amid stiff competition from brands such as Diageo PLC's Ketel One and Bacardi & Co.'s Grey Goose.

Last week, Pernod said it aims for profit growth from continuing operations of about 8% in its fiscal year that began July 1, barring "severe deterioration in the global business environment."

Mr. Pringuet also confirmed that Pernod would be out of the acquisition market for a while, even though he expects industry consolidation to continue. "We will make no more acquisitions before 2011 at least," when the company's debt ratio is expected to return to investment grade levels.

—William Spain contributed to this article.
Write to David Kesmodel at david.kesmodel@wsj.com

Fine wine defies City gloom - London

Fionnuala Synnott 24/09/08 - The Drinks Business

Finally, a ray of light among the financial gloom. While the financial markets continue their rollercoaster ride, fine wine sales are doing better than ever, at least, according to Berry Brothers. In a statement, the independent wine merchant said that over £2.5 million worth of fine wine had been sold by Berry Bros and Christie’s Fine Wine Auction in the past few weeks.
Berry Bros sold 1,000 cases of 2006 Château Lynch Bages and 1,000 cases of 2000 Dom Pérignon Champagne worth a combined total of £1m. Meanwhile, at Christie’s Bordeaux 2000 auction this week, Château Lafite Rothschild 2000 was one of the star performers fetching £10,925 per case, while Latour went for £9,200.

As well as enabling investors to diversify their portfolio away from more volatile assets, wine has extra appeal as an asset class as investors are not required to pay capital gains tax on it.


September 24, 2008

Sotheby's Asian wine buyer stats - Vinfolio

The Wine Collector
Practical wine collecting advice from Steve Bachmann, Vinfolio's CEO

Sotheby's Wine department has produced their U.S. Market Review for 2007-2008 in a nice printed newsletter which I received a few days ago.  To me, the most interesting page was one devoted to Asian buying activity titled "Duty Free Asian buyers multiply."  I've reproduced below a short table from the article which caught my attention:

Whether this increased activity is driven by the elimination of Hong Kong and Macau duties, booming Asian economies, a weak U.S. dollar, or a combination of all of the above, it's no surprise that most major auction houses have already launched, or will launch, Hong Kong auctions.

September 16, 2008

Wine Authentication

This service is a must know for any serious wine collector.

WineAuthentication.com exists because wine counterfeiting has become a greater and greater problem for buyers and sellers of wine. Individual collectors such as myself have discovered that some rare bottles purchased from supposedly trustworthy vendors are not what they seem. I'm sure that most of you have seen the large number of articles that have appeared this past year regarding the subject. Up until now, there was no easily accessible resource available to help people determine the authenticity of these bottles. wineauthentication.com is the very first website to offer help, advice and a community to share experiences and ideas with.

In order to avoid misuse of the site, we are requiring a token membership fee for those that simply wish to participate in the community of knowledge that the site makes available. For those that need specific advice on specific bottles, we will charge enough to cover some of our costs, but the majority of the costs will be covered by sponsors and large corporate members that wish to support this important effort. As we see how the financial model develops, we may change the fee structure to ensure the ongoing survival and growth of the site or to make it more accessible.

When I purchased my counterfeits I was not aware of any resources to authenticate them. Now, wineauthentication.com will be available to anyone that needs to keep up with news and information regarding the subject. In addition, by submitting bottle photos and provenance information to us we will be able to provide preliminary authenticity assessments that could be very valuable.

The war on counterfeiting starts here.

-Russell H. Frye

Mailing Address

Wine Authentication Services, LLC
PO Box 249
Brookline, MA 02446

September 11, 2008

Amazon & Wine

From the AP

Amazon.com to sell wine online in U.S.: vintners

By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com, the largest global online retailer, plans to start selling U.S.-produced wine on its website within the United States by early October, wine industry insiders said on Wednesday.

Napa Valley Vintners, a nonprofit group representing 315 vintners in the famous California wine-producing region, has already begun to set up workshops for wineries interested in selling through the retail giant, said Terry Hall, communications director for the group.

"They have been working for a while on this wine project. Now they are signing up the wineries," Hall told Reuters. "They're fast-tracking it right now." ...(more)

September 05, 2008

Bottle Shock review

This piece from Appellation America covers most of my gripes.  Though let me say - for Hollywood's sake - my wife liked it and as she stated  - it was made more for her than for me.



Bottle Shocked:
Uncorking the Real Gustavo Brambila

What's the difference between real life and the way Hollywood sees it? With the feature "Bottle Shock", quite a bit.

by Alan Goldfarb
August 27, 2008

For the official record:
  • Freddy Rodriguez looks nothing like Gustavo Brambila. (What a shock.)

  • Gustavo Brambila had nothing to do with the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that was one of two California wines which won the Paris Tasting of 1976. (What a shock.)

  • Gustavo Brambila wasn’t making his own red wine in the years he worked for the Calistoga winery. (What a shock.)     .....(more)
  • Wine Fraud

    And So It Begins - The Fight Against Fraud

    Written By: Kasey Carpenter on Thursday, September 4, 2008

    More and more wines are being proven fraudulent, robbing collectors of hundreds to thousands of dollars. Chemists have decided to step in and create a potential early warning system.

    With all the talk of wine fraud these days, it is no wonder that many scientists have been applying themselves to the task of inventing a device that will detect fraudulent wines. Well here is today's latest iteration. As reported on by no less that the Royal Chemistry Society, Cecilia Jiménez-Jorquera from the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics and others not credited in the report, have made a portable device that can detect and identify a given wine. Based on the language in the report this is done by referencing a database of tastes that the device has already "learned" over time, much like a human taster does, building upon years of tasting to develop a "library" of experiences and references that can be accessed for comparative purposes. ...(more)

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