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November 29, 2008

December 5 1933 - December 5 2008

Celebrating 75 years of the end of 12 years ten months and 19 days and the confusion it has wrought.

The end of Prohibition.
Three tier.
Direct Shipping.
Blue Laws.
Happy Hour.
One person one license.
License quotas.

Oh the joy that prohibition and the its end have brought.

A few articles highlighting the end of Prohibition.

WSJ.com Celebrating Cinco de Drinko.

Capital Spice

Google news

November 28, 2008

Wine.com - Cyber Monday Specials

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Combined effort from PDOs - Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs)

Combined effort from PDOs Wine regions Burgundy and the Douro have joined forces with Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano consortiums to promote themselves in a three year UK-focused campaign called Discover the Origin. The four Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs) have secured EU funding for the initiative.
It is hoped that the professional bodies will together raise awareness for their five products (Burgundy, Port, Douro wines, Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano) among 30-45 year old “foodies”.

“British consumers are looking for quality, authenticity and provenance to add value to their purchases. Discover the Origin aims to provide this through educating trade and consumer understanding of these products’ versatility and appeal,” said Nelly Blau Picard, export marketing manager at The Burgundy Wine Board (BIVB).

A team of Discover the Origin experts will raise awareness for the range of products using master classes and competitions for delicatessens and specialist off licences. The programme is also targeting catering colleges and trade exhibitions.

Patrick Schmitt 26/11/08

United Arab Emirates: land of opportunity or a bubble about to burst?

United Arab Emirates: land of opportunity or a bubble about to burst? By Rob Walker, of Euromonitor



UAE: To buy into Dubai?
United Arab Emirates: land of opportunity or a bubble about to burst? By Rob Walker, of Euromonitor
Spirits consumption in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) grew by a bullish 17.2% last year, which was the second steepest curve in the world, according to data from Euromonitor International. At the core of the growth story is a burgeoning class of Western expatriates, including upwards of 120,000 UK nationals, who, like 21st century gold prospectors, have flocked feverishly to the region in search of their fortune. Dubai is the hub of the activity, with some 85% of its 1.6 million inhabitants born abroad. This cosmopolitan emirate has marketed itself as the Western capital of the Middle East and as a beacon of high living. But is the UAE really a land of opportunity, or a potential capitalist casualty of global financial contagion? For spirits companies looking to carve a bigger piece of the action Euromonitor International assesses the upside and downside implications.

Tweaking Islamic law
For any spirits company eyeing up opportunity in the UAE, a potential deal breaker is that Islamic law bans the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages by Muslims, which account for roughly three-quarters of the country’s 4.8m residents. That would seem to leave a feeble consumer base on which to build any significant strategic investment. The silver lining and, in effect, the root of the opportunity for international spirits companies, is that the government of the UAE perceives its Western expatriate and non-Muslim tourism enclaves as critical engines of economic prosperity.

As a result, it has set up opportunistic provisos to the alcohol ban in key emirates, whereby non-Muslims can apply for licences that enable them to buy and consume alcoholic drinks through controlled channels. It is a respectful, albeit perhaps reluctant, legislative nod to the liberal social consumption culture of the West by an otherwise conservative ruling sheikdom.

To regulate the operating environment of alcoholic drinks a duopoly was set up in the form of Maritime & Mercantile International LLC and African & Eastern NE BVI Ltd. Alcoholic drinks are not permitted to be produced in the country under any circumstances, but these two companies have the task of overseeing all avenues of the formal route to market for international brands, meaning they act as importers, wholesalers and retailers. They are also referees in the granting of liquor licences to non-Muslim residents. It is, in real terms, a closed shop, and spirits companies have little option but to operate as best they can within its narrow confines.

The advertising of spirits brands, for example, is banned in mainstream print and broadcast media as well as on outside placards. The only viable advertising channels are glossy English-speaking magazines, sold mainly in hotels, and low-impact POP material in bars and clubs. Entrances to bars and specialist retailers are obliged to be discreet. Some are almost hidden from sight, like the Prohibition speakeasies of 1920s America. On paper it looks like a hostile playing field for the world’s spirits companies, so what, if any, is the attraction of doing business?

Premium opportunity
The pulse of the attraction is a strong appetite for premium and super-premium products, fuelled by high per capita consumer spending, especially among Western expatriates. Even in the context of global financial turbulence, anyone visiting the UAE’s oil-rich desert landscape is likely to experience, at least on the surface, a tangible affluence. For a comparatively small city, Dubai, for example, is awash with designer labels and high-performance sports cars, and the vast numbers of cranes that punctuate its skyline are testimony to the billions of dollars of construction projects waiting to be completed.

Everywhere you look there are infrastructure superlatives in waiting: the Burj Dubai, set to be the tallest building in the world; Dubai World Central, set to be the most expensive airport in the world; Palm Islands, set to be the largest artificial island in the world; Dubai Mall, set to become the largest shopping complex in the world; and Dubailand, set to be the biggest children’s entertainment centre in the world. This is a city that boasts shamelessly of betting big. Indeed, there is, perhaps, no other country in the world that flexes so many muscles of promised opportunity.

And where better to develop the profile and penetration of premium and super-premium spirits than a niche consumer market hungry for Porsche, Prada and Jimmy Choo? Volume returns might be modest but spirits companies, like frontrunner Diageo, can target a sweet spot of attractive value returns, while as a shop window to the largely untapped potential of the Middle East, this is the place to be seen.

Covert consumption
The penchant for luxury goods is not purely a characteristic of Western expatriates. There are, without doubt, an influential number of well-to-do Muslim residents who exhibit equally high aspirational inclinations. This has spilled into a growing taste for alcoholic drinks, particularly for prestige brands such as Johnnie Walker Black Label and Chivas Regal. Bucket loads of cheap credit in recent years have made many luxury items readily accessible, but because alcohol for Muslims is banned there has inevitably been a build-up in covert consumption.

Until recently, it was relatively easy for Muslims living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the main consumption bases, to buy bottles of spirits in the northern emirates of Ajman and Ras-al-Khaimah, which operated less stringent controls on the sale of alcohol to non-residents. The Barracuda outlet in Ajman, for example, is a one-hour drive from Dubai and has historically been a popular purchase point for outlawed spirits consumers. The risk for anyone running this route surfaces on the return journey. Specifically, midway on the road connecting the north and south emirates is Shariah, where Islamic law is stricter and alcohol consumption is completely banned. Vehicles could be stopped and subjected to checks by Shariah police and the penalties for contraband would often be severe.

In spite of the risks, this inter-emirate parallel activity has flourished and become an important niche driver of spirits consumption in the UAE. In May this year, however, the government tightened up consumption loopholes in the affected northern emirates. This legislative clampdown has visibly slowed the illicit traffic, but there is evidence that the volume of spirits purchased in the on-trade has grown sharply in the intervening months, implying that upwardly mobile Muslim consumers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are turning increasingly to under-the-counter consumption in the bar and restaurant scene.

In fact, even before the clampdown in the northern emirates, it was a striking feature of the market that the rapidly expanding on-trade, especially in Dubai, fuelled a dominant share in formal sales of spirits. Last year, for example, the on-trade accounted for some 97% of total volume. And it is widely recognised that bars have long absorbed illicit as well as legal consumption. The important point is that, through its recent action, the government has made clear its intent to take a stricter line on illegal consumption, which means that on-trade channels could become vulnerable to tighter regulations in the future.

Uncertain future
For international spirits companies looking to increase brand penetration in the UAE, a bigger concern will be the economy’s mounting consumer debt crisis. Specifically, as the world takes stock of the most seismic global financial turmoil in decades, it has become increasingly clear that consumers in the UAE have been spending money they simply do not have. The situation has been compounded by rapidly rising inflation, spurred by the pegging of the local currency to the US dollar.

The UAE is a consumer market weighted heavily with imported goods, hence as international currencies have appreciated against the US dollar, so the cost of imports has risen. The average price of a glass of Johnnie Walker Black Label, for example, has gone up by around 15% in the on-trade over the past year. As belts get tightened, it seems likely that demand for this type of luxury product will be squeezed, at least over the short term.

There has also been the ominous sign of increased social tension in the UAE, with workers staging protests against the rising cost of living and unpaid wages. Many of the lowest-salaried segments of the population are Indian and South Asian migrants who have effectively formed the backbone of the country’s booming construction industry. Most send money home to their own countries on a monthly basis, so the instability of the economy and, above all, the reduction in real wages, could realistically trigger a reversal of the migration.

Without the core of its labour force, it would be hard to see how Dubai, the UAE’s financial crown jewel, could complete the multitude of construction projects that are still in progress. If the cranes stop working, they will start to look more like huge question marks, dotting the skyline like symbols of an uncertain future. And for the spirits industry, the fulfilment of the construction promise, and more specifically its allure to migrants from the West, is crucial. It determines whether or not consumption culture continues to evolve favourably and lies at the heart of the opportunity, as well as the risk.

Rob Walker is a senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International

Maker of red wine goes green with plastic bottles

By Shelley Emling
Cox International Correspondent
Saturday, November 29, 2008
London —- First there were plastic corks. Now there’s another reason for wine snobs to turn up their noses —- plastic bottles.

With an eye toward shipping costs and the environment, Boisset Family Estates in France has announced it will export all its Beaujolais Nouveau to the United States this year in plastic. Other wine and champagne producers, such as Fetzer Vineyards in California, also are converting to lighter-weight packaging. The release of Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the most popular wine events of the year. The light and fruity red from southern Burgundy is traditionally quaffed on the third Thursday in November, and the vintage is meant to be consumed as quickly as possible after the harvest.

Boisset will ship about 30,000 cases of the wine in recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles supplied by Constar International, sealed with screw caps instead of cork.

Constar’s PET bottles employ a patented barrier technology that protects the flavor, aroma and color of wine for up to two years.

“It is designed specifically for wines that are meant to be enjoyed sooner rather than later,” said Melanie Lux, a Constar spokeswoman.

The move will save the company up to 33 percent on freight charges, but Boisset is emphasizing that the switch will reduce its carbon footprint, because the plastic bottle weighs one-eighth as much as a typical 14-ounce glass bottle.

“For consumers, the benefits are concrete —- better value, unbreakable lightweight bottles, no risk of ‘corkage,’ and no risk of broken glass,” said Patrick Egan, Boisset’s innovation brand manager.

The family-owned producer’s first wines in the United States in PET bottles were Yellow Jersey Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, available at Super Target and Kroger stores across the country.

Also this year, the company has introduced its Louis Bernard Bonus Passus Cote du Rhone in PET bottles, a first for a wine produced under France’s appellation d’origine controlee system, which is designed to guarantee quality.

It’s not clear whether the move towards plastic will become a real trend in the United States.

“This is an experiment in a very tradition-oriented industry and things change slowly,” said Bill Nelson, president of WineAmerica, a trade association in Washington, D.C. “There’s a sense plastic cheapens the product, so we’ll have to see if there’s consumer acceptance.”

But wine has been appearing in all sorts of new containers —- everything from cans to cartons —- in recent years. And many wine experts believe consumers will accept plastic packaging.

“American consumers are ready to adopt alternate packaging as long as what is inside that packaging is good,” said Tyler Colman, wine writer and blogger at www.DrVino.com. “It could result in lower in lower prices to the consumer if the cost savings are passed on.”

Colman said that if Beaujolais Nouveau exporters were truly worried about their carbon footprint, they’d start transporting wine by sea or pushing back the release date.

“Bottling in plastic offsets only a small portion of the carbon emissions of air freight,” he said.

Nearly 0.1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions annually is attributed to the production and distribution of wine, mostly the latter, according to the American Association of Wine Economists. That’s about the amount generated by 1 million passenger cars each year.

Even so, Boisset’s Egan said every environmental contribution is important.

“If we can make a dent by pioneering alternative packaging for the literally billions of cases of wine shipped around the world, then we will be contributing in our way not only to the larger problem but to the long-term health and vitality of the vineyards and terroir essential for our wines to exist,” he said.

Many wine businesses are taking a partial step in that direction by using lightweight glass.

Fetzer Vineyards, for example, this year switched its entire line of wines to packaging that is on average 14 percent lighter.

Spokesman Jim Caudill said consumers likely won’t notice much of a difference in the bottles.

“What they’ll likely notice is the positive impact these small steps have when everyone makes them together,” Caudill said.

At the same time, a leading champagne producer, Pernod Ricard, is experimenting with lighter bottles for its Mumm Champagne.

The French company is storing a trial run of about 2.5 million bottles for at least two and a half years to make certain they don’t explode as the bubbly ferments in the bottle, and that the new packaging doesn’t change the taste.

November 26, 2008

Baileys new ad campaign



Wine-and-spirits giant Diageo passed on two of the world's hottest ad agencies last spring to hire a Madison Avenue stalwart, JWT, to advertise its Baileys liqueur. Starting with Thanksgiving, JWT will try to prove it was the right decision.

For three years, Diageo used the same slogan for the brand, "Serve Chilled," but Baileys sales in the fiscal year ended June 30 were sluggish, growing just 3%, down from 10% the year before, when the company introduced new flavors.

For more subscribe to WSJ.Com - article is here http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122757534487155187.html


November 22, 2008

Wine buyers are sobered by Wall Street meltdown

High-end bottles languish on shelves as shoppers opt for cheaper vintages. 'The state of the economy' is nothing to celebrate, a retailer says.

By Jerry Hirsch
November 22, 2008 - LA Time

This year she can get dozens -- a sign of how the Wall Street meltdown is rippling across the alluvial fields of Napa Valley to the chalky limestone vineyards of Champagne in France.

Sales of high-end wine are plummeting, wine merchants say, and once-rationed top California Cabernets are in ample supply. The coveted 2005 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild from Bordeaux is languishing on store shelves for $549. That's an astronomical price for less than a liter of fermented grape juice but only half of what it sold for just a few months ago.

And Champagne -- that universal symbol of largess? Sales have plunged because "the state of the economy" is nothing to celebrate, said Randy Kemner, owner of Wine Country in Signal Hill.

People are still drinking wine. They are just spending less.

"I still drink wine with my wife every night, but before I might have bought Santa Barbara County Pinot Noirs for $20 to $30; now I am paying $9.99 for a Castle Rock Pinot from Mendocino County," said Pablo Urquiza, a freelance television producer who lives in Marina del Rey.

He's not alone.

Sales of wine for $9 or less make up the fastest-growing segment of the wine market and sales above that price are starting to trend down, said Jon Fredrikson, a Woodside, Calif., industry analyst.

Consumers are trading down to wine they consider "values," Fredrikson said.

Kemner of Wine Country is trying to get ahead of that trend. Last month he went on a supermarket shopping spree, buying about 50 bottles of mass-market "corporate wines of the type we usually don't sell."

The wine merchant and his staff tasted the wines and selected two dozen to offer in the store as "recession busters" starting from $5.99 for a FishEye Merlot to $14.99 for a La Crema Chardonnay. Armed with his sales receipts, Kemner demanded a price break from his distributors so that he could match supermarket prices and still make a profit.

Kemner hopes the less expensive selection will take off as the holidays approach. Sales at Wine Country were off 28% in October compared with a year ago. November sales are running 16% below last year's figures, even after factoring in a bump-up around the presidential election earlier this month.

"We are working leaner and we are still profitable but we understand that we have to dig around for wines that overachieve," Kemner said.

Hirst also is pushing bargain wines at her Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa. She's looking for lower-priced wines from Spain, Argentina and Chile to fight off the slump in costlier selections.

"Every time the stock market takes a dive we see a few slow days," Hirst said.

Champagne and signature California reds such as the 2005 vintages of Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Joseph Phelps Bordeaux-style blend are particularly slow even though they are well-regarded wines, she said.

Hi-Time Wine has cut its inventory by about 10%, "and we have not hired for the holidays; we are all just going to work more hours," Hirst said.

Wine retailers aren't the only ones feeling the pain: Consumers are dining out less, slashing wine sales by as much as 15% in restaurants, Fredrikson said. All of this translates to lower sales for California's wineries, which sell wine with a retail value of $19 billion annually. Americans drink $30 billion worth of wine each year.

"Our sales are down about 10%, and I am surprised they are only down by that amount," said Ron Melville, owner of Melville Vineyards and Winery in the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County.

At Charles Krug, visitors to Napa Valley's oldest winery are spending less, said Peter Mondavi Jr., whose family owns the business. Tasting room sales have held up compared with last year only because the winery has undergone a major renovation and more people are visiting, he said.

As retailers and dining establishments cut back, many small wineries -- which don't produce enough to have a large presence in grocery or other chain stores -- are seeing their inventories bloat. Distributors and wholesalers are cutting orders because they don't want to purchase wine that could take months to sell.

"This creates a real question with tight credit now about whether some of these wineries will have the credit lines available to wait this out," Fredrikson said.

And there are more ominous signs for smaller wineries that sell directly to consumers. Oenophile Urquiza cut back on his membership in wine clubs -- where customers sign up for discounted shipments of wine -- to just one from three.

Still, if you have the cash, the slump has created a unique opportunity to invest in First Growth Bordeaux and Burgundy Grand Cru vintages -- among the elite of the wine world -- said Steve Wallace, owner of Wally's Wine & Spirits in Westwood.

While the price of that '05 Mouton-Rothschild has fallen by half this year, the 2007 vintage sells for less, $383. Both vintages are highly rated by Bordeaux wine guru Robert Parker.

"These prices are from back in the 1980s," Wallace said. "I never thought I would see that."

Hirsch is a Times staff writer.


November 20, 2008


From the website winenews.it

This article is from a former classmate  at BEM

Firenze - 19 Novembre 2008


With a specialization degree in Wine Economics from the University of Bordeaux, professional journalist and commercialist, Edoardo Narduzzi has also earned a Master’s in Applied Environmental Economics at the Imperial College of London, a Master’s of Science (MSC) in Public Management and the Economics of Regulation from the J.F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard (Fulbright Fellow), a Master’s of Science in Finance from the London Business School, and an MBA from the Warwick Business School.
He has published various books and articles in specialized magazines. He is visiting professor of Systems and Technologies of Communication at the University of Rome, President of Feudi San Gregorio, President of Techedge Spa, Italian leader for Sap NewWeaver technology, and General Manager of EvaBeta Spa.
He is also one of the managers of the Telecom group, head of the professional web services area, and has coordinated the industrial reorganization of the entire IT department. His resume is also full of administrative council member roles for various companies (Datamat, Mediocredito Centrale, Banksiel, Webegg, Netesi, Netikos Finland, and member of the ICE consulting committee).
Below, is the transcription of a discussion made recently by Narduzzi, who is currently the president of Synchronya and team leader on the advisory panel for the food and agriculture and wine sectors as well as for the environmental investments for Synchronya.

Panta rei, everything flows, noted the philosopher Heraclites. And everything fluctuates on the markets, above all during times of economic crisis. Today, to bolster portfolio earnings it is necessary to follow original strategies of diversification and hedging, aiming towards anti-cyclical assets or those not perfectly correlated with stock indexes. One of these “defensive” assets, though it may seem strange to most, is represented by wine.
A winemaking company is a very particular investment, the synthesis of three different assets. There is an incarnate property component from the land especially in those zones that are certified, a specific up-start made up of the product sales and from the commercialized vineyards and, finally, an immaterial aspect connected to the value and the notoriety of the brand of the winemaking company, in many cases an immaterial good consolidated at an international level in dozens of commercial activities.
In fact, an investment in a winemaking enterprise is already a diversified investment in the sense that it synthesizes trends from the largest to smallest appreciation between each other and that are not necessarily correlated: if the cycle of property values is positive while the consumer demand is stagnant the economic value of a winery will unite these two trends diluting, for example, the more purely agricultural aspects of the business. Obviously, a joint depreciation could be verified among the three components of the business even if rapidly diversified. As well, statistics on consumer compartments, above all Anglo-Saxon ones, indicate that economic crisis and recession are favourable to wine because, not only is the average consumption of the drink steady, but there is even a slight increase.
During times of crisis alcohol consoles and attenuates the bitterness of the situation. The problem with wine is that at a global level there are few connected financial tools on which to invest. The winemaking enterprises on the stock exchange are very few and usually of very large industrial dimensions. Thus signifying that, for example, it is not possible to invest through stocks in the more profitable segment of the industry represented by the icon wines. Though rare, however, some wine stocks are acquirable and detainable in portfolios. But is wine an alternative investment that is useful during slow down phases to impose earning strategies of diversification? The data elaborated by Rabobank, the most important bank of the sector worldwide with over 1 billion euros invested in the business and the only one that still has a triple-A rating after the Wall Street crash, is very interesting.
Over the past year, the MSCI World Index that represents the progress of the world market has gone from a value of 100 on October 1, 2007 to a level of 62.4 on October 31, 2008. In one year the global market has lost almost 40% of its value. During the same temporal period wine stocks have done much better: the Spanish Cvne earned 94.7%, Baron de Ley 93.5%, Bodegas Riojanas 83.8%, Chilean Concha y Toro 80.9%, and American Constellation 49.9%.
Therefore, apart from one case, very influenced by the awarded acquisitions made in recent years by Constellation, the investment in wine has been well protected against stock market corrections. In two cases it permitted almost perfect strategies of conservation of the initial index value and therefore almost complete sterilization from stock corrections. If the view is widened to quoted shares that, as well as investments in wine also express added activities in the alcohol sector, like Campari and Pernod Ricard, we discover an analogous, though attenuated, defensive capacity.
Campari, in fact, earned 10% more in respect to the MSCI World Index and Pernod Ricard over 3%. Unfortunately, there are no shares for Italian enterprises of the sector to use in order to understand whether the positive diversification effect of the wine investments is the same for our market as well, but some general considerations can still be made. Investing in wine stocks in times of crisis best protects the investor from falls in prices offering stocks that have an anti-cyclical nature reinforced by property investments and by the peculiar course of the demand for alcohol during times of economic crisis.
If the crisis isdestined to last long and Wall Street may possibly be pushed, as some have predicted to a quota of 5,000 by the recession, then a thought should be given to wine stocks that may become fundamental for those who don’t want to be completely liquidated.

November 13, 2008

India - fast on the heals of established wine drinking nations?

There has been a lot going on in India lately - even in wine.

I follow Sommelier India

 Here are a few examples of the exciting things going on.

Nov 13 India Wine Challenge Results. Indage, D'Ori & Sula Lead

Nov 9 Wine and Fashion Evening at Fort Jadhavgadh, Pune

Nov 6 Australia in free trade agreement talks with India? - India has some of the highest tariffs on alcohol around 150%

Oct 31 It’s a bumpy ride for the Indian Wine market

Oct 31 WTO issues ruling. U.S gets moral victory, India flexibility

Oct 27 United Vintners introduces 10 Chapters of South Africa

Why use barrels?

If you ever wanted a quick piece on why winemakers want to use barrels - here it is

Barrels Are Expensive—Why Do We Use Them?
Posted: 09:56 AM ET, November 13, 2008
Posted by Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer

The alcoholic fermentations are done, both at Brancaia in Chianti Classico and in the Maremma, so our principal task and decision-making process during the next 12 to 20 months involves when, for how long and in what kind of oak we barrel all the different young wines. At Brancaia, all wines are matured in small oak barrels for at least 12 months. Apart from some tests we do every year, we exclusively use French oak barriques and use them for two to three years before we sell them off to other producers.

you will need an online subscription to Wine Spectator to read the rest here.

The cost of a bottle of wine

I found this through a website I visit regularly even though she does not update regularly.

 Amy Gardner is the owner of Wine Talent, a recruitment company for he wine industry.  Her blog is Career Advice in the Wine Industry.

Recently she posted a link to a February 2008 article in the Sacremento Bee about why a bottle of wine costs what it does.

 Here is the link to Amy's original post

and Here is the link to the article on the cost of a bottle of wine.


I always find it interesting to see what some of the basics costs of products are - and thought you might too.

November 11, 2008

Moet vs Veuve in London

Moet Chandon and Veuve Clicquot will find out what branded outlets will do for them in these tough economic times.

Moet decided to go with a temporary outlet open from December 3rd through December 28th, Wednesdays through Saturdays.  Now why not all the way thrrough the 31st?  The Moet facility will be on high retail Bond Street.

Veuve has decided to create a permanent space inside of Harrods. The Bar/Boutique will be on the first floor next to the designer fashion labels.

Moet details: Atelier Moet

 The Drinks Business article

Veuve details: Tallking Drinks article

 Sommelier India article

From the Veuve Clicquot website

 Veuve Clicquot Bar Launches at Harrods
A unique bar and boutique for Champagne lovers


Veuve Clicquot has partnered with Harrods, one of the World's most prestigious stores, to open the first Champagne Bar and Boutique within a UK department store. With an enviable location on the 1st floor among the International luxury fashion labels, the unique venue promises to become a hot spot for Champagne lovers and Clicquot fans.

The Bar and Boutique offers Champagne lovers the opportunity to fully experience the world of Veuve Clicquot. The full range of Cuvées from Yellow Label and Veuve Clicquot Rosé to Vintages and La Grande Dame are available by the glass and by the bottle.

Customers can also pair their favourite Champagne with a selection of dishes from the À la carte menu. Dishes include Ceviche of cured salmon with bitter orange, red onion and lime; Salad of grilled asparagus and marinated shitake mushrooms with a Miso vinaigrette, edamame and daikon sprouts and raspberry macaroon, made with vanilla mousseline and homemade raspberry jam.

With the Christmas Season about to start, what are you waiting for?

November 10, 2008

America's Largest Companies - Beverages

Forbes list for 2007



November 08, 2008

Wine Prices in economic uncertainty

From Vinfolio's the Wine Collector

The truth on current fine wine prices

Have fine wine prices fallen?

Yes.  Prices of almost everything have fallen in recent weeks; fine wine is no exception.  See the latest Decanter.com story titled "Fine wine prices hit new low."


By how much?

The article reports that the Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine Index fell 12.4% in October.  Interestingly, that is almost identical to the median 13% decline discussed in my September 27th post, "Time to invest in fine wine?" and close to the 15% median price decline in sold lots at the October 25th Zachys auction in Hong Kong. The broader Liv-ex 500 fell only 1.8% in the month.

Why is the unsold rate at recent auctions reaching as much as 30%?

Keep in mind that auction estimates and reserves are typically set 8 weeks before the auction date.  Given the sudden change in the financial market environment in mid-September, it's no surprise that the current values people will pay are below what the auction houses estimated prior to the financial market turmoil.

Is the fine wine market collapsing?

No.  The Zachys Hong Kong auction still sold HK$41.3 million of wine (approx. US$5.3 million) and about 25% of the sold lots were above their 2008 auction average through August (pre-decline).

Is fine wine still a good investment?

Yes. I stand by my recent post "Why wine investing beats stock investing."  Moreover, Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners, who claim to sell more Bordeaux than anyone else in the UK, makes a compelling argument in his comments after the Decanter article.  He notes that despite price declines in some wine that Decanter singles out, those wines are still selling for 30%-40% more than 18 months ago.

Vinfolio's new offer to wine investors: 5 years of free storage!

As an incentive to give wine investing a try, we'll give you a total of 5 years of free storage when you do the following:

Buy at least $5,000 of wine in a single purchase where the average bottle price (750ml equivalent) is $100 or more.  Better yet, speak with one of our wine specialists for recommendations and then the next step is automatic.
Call or email our Customer Service team (service@vinfolio.com, 415-946-1300) or your wine specialist within one week of your purchase to claim your storage credits (which you can use on any wine).
This offer is effective only with new purchases starting today (November 7, 2008) and is exclusive of other promotions.

November 06, 2008

The battle over prohibition continues

Texans had a number of measures on their ballots regarding changes in alcoholic beverage law.

Here is the Dallas News' coverage of the measures.

November 04, 2008

Global credit crisis puts damper on wine prices

From Reuters

By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Floodwaters from the global credit crisis have seeped onto the top deck of the wine business.

Domaine Romanee Conti (DRC) 1990, which commanded more than $20,000 a bottle just a little more than year ago, sold on Saturday for $6,500 - a 67.5 percent drop in price.

Auction house Hart Davis Hart admitted that the price was at the low end of its estimates.


"We definitely saw some conservative prices," Paul Hart, the auction house's president and chief executive officer, said after the sale in Chicago.

The scenario is being repeated at other wine auctions throughout the country.

"The price of wine, particularly at the higher end, has gone through a two-year period of unprecedented increases. Not surprisingly, we now see a period of price adjustments," said Jamie Ritchie, head of Sotheby's Wines North America.

Auction houses tout their sales by the percentage of lots sold. In the spring Christies, Sotheby's, Zachy's, and Hart Davis Hart all boasted sell throughs of well over 90 percent.

A Hart Davis Hart auction in September of a single collector had a 100 percent sell through. The total from the sale of 1,746 lots of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Petrus, and DRC was almost $11.2 million, nearly $1 million above the top estimate.

What appears to have been the high-water mark for wine auctions took place the same week in October that the Dow Jones Industrial Average went into a freefall.

Six weeks and several auctions later, the sell through seems to have dropped to an average of 79 percent. A four-case lot of DRC 1990 was left unsold because the reserve price was not met.

The slump is also reflected in the Liv-ex 100, the wine industry's leading benchmark, which was down to 221.62 at the end of October, or almost 16 percent from its high of 262.71 in August.

Charles Curtis, head of Christie's North American Wine Sales, said after his house's October 25 auction there was "a softening of some prices, demonstrating that current economic conditions have made for a buyer's market."

After Christie's sale on Saturday in Los Angeles, in which 44 percent of the lots sold, Curtis said in a statement that it was taking another look at its prices.

"Like any market, the international fine wine market fluctuates ... as market leaders, we are actively reviewing our own pricing procedures and are advising both our buying and selling clients on the market situation as it continues to develop," Curtis said in a statement.

"Our outlook for the future is cautiously optimistic," he added.

Hart Davis Hart's sale on Saturday had estimates in their catalog that were lower than their auction six weeks earlier. Although the DRC fetched only a fraction of what it sold for a year ago, Hart is optimistic.

"We saw a lot of old faces in the audience on Saturday night that we haven't seen in a couple of years. There were a lot of us who have been through cycles before and they realize it's an opportunity," he said, adding that estimates for their December sale will be even more conservative.

"It's a bidder's market." he added.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney)

November 01, 2008

Wine Spectators take on recent wine auctions

From todays front page of WineSpectator.com

 "Near 80 percent of realized prices fall below averages at Aulden Cellars-Sotheby's in New York"


The most relevant quote from Jamie Ritchie, head of Sotheby’s North American wine department, noted that the price of high-end collectible wine had gone through a period of unprecedented increases. "Not surprisingly, we now see a period of price adjustments, as reflected in the results of tonight’s sale." He added that today’s prices are still significantly higher than they were three years ago.

Ritchie went on to say that because the current market has seen a drop in demand, Sotheby’s will negotiate future estimates and reserves to reflect the present marketplace. "Collectors are clearly intent on buying wine at more reasonable prices, and we aim to recognize those tendencies. It will take three to four months to go through the necessary price adjustments. Consignors who want to sell in this market will have to accept a new reality."

And a buyer’s market may ensue in the process.

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