The Champagne Bureau, USA announced today that 20,508,784 million bottles of Champagne were shipped to the United States in 2015, an increase of 6.61 percent from 2014. This marks the third consecutive year of growth in Champagne shipments to the United States.
“It is wonderful to see U.S. consumers buying Champagne at record numbers. The strong growth represents the real excitement consumers have for Champagne and highlights the important role Champagne plays in the growing U.S. wine market,” said Sam Heitner, Director of the Champagne Bureau, USA. “As more Americans drink wine, they are placing more value on wines that come from unique places. This desire to understand where their wines come from is a key to building long-term connections with consumers and why we like to remind all that Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”
The United States is the second largest export market for Champagne, trailing the United Kingdom, which imported 34,153,662 bottles in 2015. Worldwide, Champagne shipments totaled 312,531,444 bottles, an increase of nearly 2 percent over last year.
More than merely a type of wine, Champagne is a unique winemaking region with a long history of winemaking expertise. In fact, its historic hillsides, houses and cellars were recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Therefore, to earn the right to label their bottles with the “Champagne” name, the growers and producers of the Champagne region adhere to strict grape growing, harvesting and winemaking regulations. In recent years, the region has also been lauded for its environmental leadership, launching a comprehensive carbon reduction effort that has already reduced the region’s carbon footprint and establishing a new environmental certification for wine growers and producers to quantify their environmental sustainability and advances.
By Richard Thompson
Breweries like Sky River Meadery and Moonlight Meadery are offering new delicious flavors – such as raspberry, blackberry, and even strawberry rhubarb – along with traditional honeyed staples in their dry, sweet and semi-sweet mead lines.
“It’s coming back as a beverage of choice,” says Michael Fairbrother, Founder and Head Mead Maker at Moonlight Meadery and President of American Mead Maker Association.
Moonlight Meadery, which opened in 2010 and is based in Londonderry, New Hampshire, offers a line of 70 different products and has seen interest in mead explode over the last year. “Production in the first two years was about 24,000 bottles (2000 cases), but we have done close to seven times as much in the last year alone,” says Fairbrother.
Kurt’s ApplePie, the meadery’s top seller, won the gold metal at the 2013 Mazer Cup International and is made with Sunny Crest Farm apple cider with Madagascar-bourbon vanilla and Vietnamese cinnamon. Its sweetness is balanced by the tartness from the added cinnamon, and the vanilla lightens it up, says Fairbrother.
Desire, a sweet mead made with blueberries, black cherries and blackcurrants, is the company’s flagship mead and won first place in the New England Regional Homebrew Competition back in 2009. Fling is made with strawberry rhubarb and orange blossom honey and has a light tartness that balances the sweet with strawberry notes. “I suggest to customers to try it with a goat cheese salad,” says Fairbrother.
Coffee in Bed, a dessert-style mead with a rich, robust honey-note, was another award winner at the International Mazer Competition that goes well with dark chocolates, tiramisu and German Chocolate cake.
Sky River Meadery, a Washington-based meadery found in the Woodinville Winery District, has been open since 1997 and specializes in traditional meads and honey wines. “We only make mead,” says Denice Ingalls, President and Wine Maker at Sky River, “We keep it simple and approachable.”
SOLAS, the meadery’s flagship mead, is a tribute to Old World meads, says Ingalls. Using saturated, smokey whiskey barrels from Dry Fly[TM] Distillery, SOLAS is a very sweet mead that combines honey and wheat whiskey flavors and is definitely an indulgence that should be sipped.
The company’s 10 different meads – with nine currently available – range from a traditional Brochet mead that has a darker, richer quality – due to the honey being caramelized before fermentation – to the Ginger mead that has a sassy ginger note with a spicy finish. “Our Rose mead is the ‘boudoir’ wine, luscious and indulgent, and pairs beautifully with meals where there are a lot of pistachios, like Persian and Middle Eastern foods,” says Ingalls.
American Born Moonshine celebrated its two-year anniversary with a nod to the past and a push to the future. Founded in 2013 by Patrick Dillingham and Sean Koffel as the lead product of Windy Hill Spirits, American Born Moonshine has expanded its reach to 24 states, while also staking its claim as the fastest growing moonshine brand in the United States, doubling its sales volume over the past year.
“2015 has been an incredible growth year for American Born Moonshine,” says Co-founder Sean Koffel. “We are now available in 25 states across the nation and we have expanded our reach with national marketing campaigns in music and racing as well as local bartender campaigns to help give people the best moonshine experience. We are looking forward to a great rest of the year with more growth on the way for 2016.”
In the past year, Windy Hill Spirits’ first brand has achieved overwhelming success. American Born Moonshine is identified by many as the most authentic and best tasting in the category and is poised to be the category leader. Earlier this year, Windy Hill Spirits kicked off a number of partnerships with large national retail and grocery chains including Kroger’s, Walmart, Safeway, and Albertson’s and expects this to be a significant area of future growth for the brand. In addition, American Born Moonshine has grown geographically and organically over the past 12 months, doubling sales volume and depletions in the same time frame.
“We have seen tremendous positive feedback on American Born Moonshine since we rolled this out in Florida earlier this year,” said Eric G. Pfeil, Vice President of Sales, Premier Beverage Company. “The volume has surpassed our initial expectations and projections. Additionally, the folks from ABM have been very responsive with the market needs, and have provided excellent resources. We are looking forward to continued success with the brand and with Windy Hill Spirits as a whole.”
To celebrate its incredible growth over the past two years, American Born Moonshine will be unveiling a new program called #sharetheshine, which will honor the bartenders, retailers and bootleggers who serve the company’s moonshine this fall and winter. American Born Moonshine will be utilizing the hashtag #sharetheshine to track pictures of bartenders serving these participants and will select the most creative image as a winner every two weeks. The winner will be contacted and will receive an American Born Moonshine crate filled with the best “ABM Moonshine Bootlegger gear.” To participate, people just need to like or follow @AmericanBornMoonshine on Instagram and post their most creative image embodying #sharetheshine. Participants can tag a friend or two they’d like to share the shine with and then hashtag #sharetheshine. Winners will be chosen randomly.
There are three different types of American Born Moonshine – Original, Apple Pie and Dixie:
Maureen Downey, named the “Sherlock Holmes of Wine” by Bloomberg and the “Wine Detective” by SF Weekly, announces the official launch of WineFraud.com, the first of its kind resource for vendors, buyers and producers of fine wine.
WineFraud.com Founder Maureen Downey was instrumental in solving the now notorious case of the Kurniawan wine counterfeits, which were estimated to have brought $130 million dollars of fake wine to auction and international markets. When Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry had $300,000 of wine stolen from their collection last December, Downey was immediately consulted by the FBI to help them crack the case. Bloomberg Business says, “For the past 10 years she has been on a one-woman crusade to rid the wine industry of counterfeit and stolen wine.”
The aim of WineFraud.com is to raise awareness of wine fraud and counterfeiting issues in the wine trade and among consumers, and to educate its members on the core principles of wine authentication. The mission of the site is to make it difficult for wine fraudsters to thrive by raising awareness and knowledge, as well as increasing due diligence. The ultimate goal is to end wine counterfeiting and fraud, creating a more transparent and authentic global wine marketplace.
WineFraud.com offers a subscription service that provides education and advocacy for wine collectors, producers and vendors through the largest anti-counterfeiting resource in the world. The site reports information about the latest breaking counterfeit scandals, and current wine fraud events and trends seen by Downey and her global team of experts.
The site lists vendor members who are known to do their due diligence when it comes to selling wine in the global marketplace and reports news related to wine production, packaging, branding, distributing, storing, selling, and collecting. In The Business and Vendor sections, members can display the WineFraud.com Member Badge on their own websites and wherever they market or sell their wines to demonstrate to colleagues and clients that they are dedicated to becoming educated about and stamping out wine fraud and wine counterfeiting. It is a one-stop-shop for all things related to wine fraud and counterfeiting, and it is helping the wine industry become more accountable to its buyers.
Sangria and gazpacho are two traditional staples of Mediterranean culture that have been exported around the world. Bodega Barcelona celebrates this cherished heritage with their refreshing products Sangria LOLEA and Mucho Gazpacho.
Sangria Lolea, combines tradition and culture to make the perfect combination of wine and fruit, with a frizzante touch. LOLEA is made with all-natural ingredients designed from the best grape varietals. Sangria LOLEA is produced and bottled in Aragon (Northeast of Spain) – the wine region of Calatayud – and its preparation involves more than 25 processes while keeping an artisanal touch intact.
In addition to its fine taste, LOLEA adds a sophisticated flare of style to any brunch, dinner or celebration. LOLEA’s unique presentation projects the outgoing Mediterranean attitude. LOLEA’s packaging has been widely applauded and collected several accolades: honing in on every detail regarding all aspects of design, including the vessel shape, its eye-catching sleeve label, and a consumer friendly swing top cap, in addition to all of its sharp branding and communication tools.
Sangria LOLEA is present in 30 countries on five continents and sold mainly in gourmet departments and specialty stores as well as bars, restaurants and upscale grocery stores. Lolea No.1 Red and No.2 Clarea (White) are both sold in standard 750 ml bottles and new 8-ounce single-serve mini-bottles for convenience, perfect for picnic baskets and coolers.
Mucho Gazpacho, an amazing blend of all natural vegetables, presents a traditional recipe in a ready to drink form. Perfect for warm-summer days, this refreshing beverage, will not only quench the thirst of consumers, but also provides nutritious benefits. Blended with, tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers and other great fresh ingredients from the local orchards Mucho Gazpacho is prepared and bottled in Spain, in a region where the best tomatoes are grown.
Mucho Gazpacho is available in 8-ounce glass bottles that can be merchandised in the refrigerated deli section of gourmet and specialty stores, as it’s better served chilled.
Bodega Barcelona will be in the North Hall at the Summer Fancy Food Show.
Shopper marketing agency TWINOAKS has just announced the launch and test of Treasury Wine Estates’ taste stations in 1,000 Kroger stores across 20 states this spring. It allows shoppers to sample three varietals of Beringer commercial wines via single serve “flavor strips”.
TWINOAKS led the concept development and design of this innovation which not only benefits the shopper but also addresses the legal complexities within the wine category as the strips deliver the full flavor of the wines while being nonalcoholic. “We are proud to have partnered with Treasury Wine Estates and are tremendously excited by the marketing advances this technology delivers. It uniquely addresses the needs of both the shopper and our client. Further, it provides retailers with a new form of shopper engagement and ability to convert shoppers within the category,” commented Steve Devore, Managing Director, TWINOAKS.
The launch of the taste stations is the result of a year-long campaign based on research findings that state 94 percent of women running households say sampling gives them a better idea of a product than advertising, and 83 percent of shoppers say that an item they’ve sampled has become a repeat purchase.Other key contributors to the launch included Acorn Design and Manufacturing, Acupac Packaging, Inc., and News America Marketing.
“We are thrilled with the thought-leadership and resolve demonstrated by our agency partner, TWINOAKS, throughout this process. This is an innovation the category has never seen and they were instrumental in bringing it to fruition,” said Tammy Ackerman, Senior Brand Manager for Beringer.
Terlato Wines will become the exclusive U.S. importer for the renowned and historic Burgundy Domaines of Chateau de Meursault and Chateau de Marsannay. The long-term agreement with owner Olivier Halley represents an expansion of Terlato’s Estate portfolio with some of the most respected wines of the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits regions.
Each property produces hand-crafted wines made from 100 percent estate-grown fruit and reflects the distinctive vineyards and appellations from which they are made. Chateau de Meursault and Chateau de Marsannay were purchased by Olivier Halley in 2012 from the Boisseaux family, and today both Domaines are enjoying a renaissance under his thoughtful care and guidance.
“We are very pleased to have forged this partnership with Olivier Halley and to represent these two extraordinary and historic Domaines, said Terlato Wines Vice Chairman John Terlato. “The wines from Chateau de Meursault and Chateau de Marsannay are exceptional — hand-crafted with great attention to detail and quality. We always look for long and lasting partnerships with families who share our values, and this is a fitting addition to the partnerships we have already established with other important Burgundian families.”
Terlato will import a collection of wines from each Domaine including Le Clos du Chateau and Meursault, Le Clos des Grands Charrons (Monopole) from Chateau de Meursault, and Marsannay and Marsannay Longeroies – Clos de Roy from Chateau de Marsannay, as well as Villages, Premiers and Grand Crus from their respective appellations. These wines have been recognized as some of Burgundy’s best by key wine journalists and influencers, such as Revue des Vins de France, Bourgogne Aujourd’hui, Decanter and Allen Meadows of Burghound.
“We are very happy to be working with the Terlato family, because we share a passion for making the best, most important wines of the world available to people around the world,” said Stephane Follin-Arbelet, General Manager of Chateau de Meursault and Chateau de Marsannay. “Terlato Wines has an international reputation as the top luxury wine importer in the U.S. Their portfolio of wines is known as one of the best in the world, and they are an ideal partner for us.”
Chateau de Meursault and Chateau de Marsannay stand out for more than their exceptional wines, truly offering the Burgundian experience by welcoming visitors seven days week in their historic and beautiful cellars, in one of the world’s most iconic wine regions. In addition, Chateau de Meursault has proudly hosted the almost century-old Burgundy event, “La Paulee de Meursault” since the early 1980s. Each year hundreds of the world’s most avid Burgundy aficionados receive coveted invitations to this legendary lunch at Chateau de Meursault, which unites the top Burgundy producers of the region.
Terlato Wines has a global portfolio of more than 70 brands from world class wine producers in more than a dozen countries and controls a 20 percent market share of wines $20 and up in the U.S. Terlato Wines garners more 90+ ratings than any wine company in the world and is a division of the Terlato Wine Group, the parent company comprising several small businesses specializing in the marketing and production of exceptional wines. Owned and operated by the Terlato family for four generations, the Group also includes the family’s winery investments and partnerships in some of the world’s most esteemed wine regions including: Napa Valley;Sonoma County; Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County; Victoria, Australia; the Rhone Valley in France and; Montalcino, Italy.
The Terlato Wines portfolio of brands includes:Napa Valley: Chimney Rock, EPISODE, Galaxy, Jack Nicklaus Wines, Luke Donald Collection, Markham Vineyards, Rutherford Hill, Tangley Oaks, Terlato Family Vineyards; Sonoma County: Giarrusso, Hanna, Rochioli, The Federalist, Terlato Family Vineyards; Santa Barbara County: Flor de Campo, Sanford; California Appellation: Glass Mountain, Greystone Cellars, Mike Ditka Wines, Seven Daughters; Washington State: Grace Lane; Argentina: Cuarto Dominio, Tamari; Australia: Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier, the Lucky Country, Twelftree, Two Hands; Austria: Kracher, Sohm & Kracher; Canada: Peller Estates; Chile: Lapostolle; France: Belleruche by M. Chapoutier, Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Duval-Leroy, Chapoutier, Chateau de Sancerre, Chateau Timberlay, Domaine Ramonet, Chateau de Meursault, Chateau de Marsannay, Langlois-Chateau, MARIUS, Mischief & Mayhem; Greece: Boutari, Elios; Italy: Anselmi, Berlucchi, Ca’Marcanda (GAJA Toscana), Cecchi, Colavita, Cusumano, Epsilon, Fizz 56, GAJA, Goretti, Il Poggione, Mazzoni (Toscana), Nino Franco, Santa Margherita; Japan: Shimizu-no-mai Sake; Mediterranean: Elios; New Zealand: Loveblock, Turning Heads, Wairau River; Portugal: M. Chapoutier; South Africa: Anthonij Rupert, Ernie Els, Guardian Peak, Protea, Rust en Vrede; Spain: Bodegas Valdemar, Marco Abella. Artisan Spirits: Adelphi Selections Scotch, Distillatorio Nonino (Amaro and Grappa), Don Pancho Origenes Rum, Heartland Gin, Langley’s No. 8 Gin; Marnier XO Cognac, Riazul Tequila, Tigre Blanc Vodka and Tiramisu Liqueur.
Sonoma-Cutrer, most distinguished for producing world-class, award-winning Chardonnay, recently received two top awards for its Pinot Noir wines. The 2012 Founders Reserve Pinot Noir took home the highest honor at the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition with the Sweepstakes Red award, while the company’s flagship 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir won the Platinum award at the 2015 San Diego International Wine Competition.
When Sonoma-Cutrer began crafting Pinot Noir in 2002, it was a natural extension from Chardonnay for a winery focused on the winemaking traditions of Burgundy, France. Today, Sonoma-Cutrer produces four distinctive Pinot Noir wines. Sonoma-Cutrer’s separate, artisan Pinot Noir winery takes many special steps to craft its Pinot Noir from early morning hand harvesting and hand sorting to a hand punch-down in open top fermenters. The same care and respect is used to craft Pinot Noir as with Chardonnay.
“Sonoma-Cutrer has always been recognized as a world-class producer of Chardonnay, with the Pinot Noir program being our best kept secret for years,” said Winemaking Director Mick Schroeter. “To receive honors and recognition for our Pinot Noirs from some of the most prestigious and highly competitive competitions in the United States has the entire Sonoma-Cutrer team over the moon with excitement.”
The care for these Pinot Noir wines is evident through the prestigious awards the winery has recently received, including the Sweepstakes Red award for the 2012 Founders Reserve, and Double Gold for the 2012 Vine Hill Pinot Noir at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The competition, which received more than 6,300 wine entries, is known as the largest competition of American wines in the world. Of all these wines, only eight Sweepstakes awards are given in the categories of Sparkling, White, Pink, Red, and Dessert/Specialty wines.
“Sonoma-Cutrer’s Founders Reserve Pinot Noir was deemed the best of more than 4,000 red wines entered into the 2015 competition,” said San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition director Bob Fraser. “Mick Schroeter and his staff should be complimented for their excellence in viticulture and winemaking.”
The most highly acclaimed and requested Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir, the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, recently received the Platinum award and a 95 point rating for the 2013 vintage at the highly esteemed San Diego International Wine Competition.
“Sonoma-Cutrer has long been a benchmark producer of California Chardonnay. Situated in the cool Russian River Valley, it makes Chardonnay that possesses structure and elegance, giving it the ability to improve with age,” said San Diego International Wine Competition director Robert Whitley. “Because of the success of its Chardonnay, the Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir is one of the best-kept secrets in the world of wine.”
All award-winning wines can be purchased at the Sonoma-Cutrer winery as well as through the wine club, Club Cutrer. Additionally, the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is available nationwide in stores and at restaurants.
From the rocky coastline to the mountain vistas and the lush river valleys, the land has always been the hero in the story of Sonoma County, California. Through it all, the dedicated efforts of farmers and ranchers have been at the forefront of taking care of the land, protecting it and managing it in a way that has provided a bounty of apples, prunes, pears, poultry, lamb, beef and, more recently, winegrapes for nearly 150 years.
With this in mind, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), has created a 100-year business plan to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County well into the 22nd Century. The 100-year plan is believed to be the first of its kind in agriculture and the global wine industry. It is also the next step in the evolution of Sonoma County’s efforts to become the first wine region in the United States to have all of its wines grown and made in a sustainable manner.
“Last year when we announced our intent to be 100-percent sustainable by 2019, it was always viewed as the starting point, not the end goal,” said Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. She added, “It is our job as farmers to be caretakers of the land in Sonoma County and preserve our agricultural legacy and way of life for future generations. Just as we inherited the land from previous generations, we have a fundamental responsibility to make the land better for those who inherit it from us.”
The existence of the 100-year plan was announced nearly one year to the day when Sonoma County Winegrowers generated worldwide attention for its bold commitment to become the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine growing region by 2019. Sonoma County winegrape growers are currently following a rigorous sustainability self-assessment and third party certification program focused on 138 farming and business practices, such as land use, canopy management, energy efficiency, water quality assessments, carbon emissions, healthcare and training for employees and being a good neighbor and community member.
In the twelve months since announcing its sustainable intentions, the local wine industry reached one-third of its targeted goal of becoming 100-percent sustainable. More than 43 percent (25,987 vineyard acres) of the county’s 59,772 vineyard acres have completed a sustainability assessment. In addition, 33 percent of the county’s vineyard acres (21,491 vineyard acres) have taken the next step and are now certified under a third-party auditor program. The 59,772 vineyard acres in Sonoma County only accounts for 6 percent of the county’s one million acres with the rest being utilized as pasture land (36 percent), forests (49 percent) and urban land (9 percent). More than 950 winegrape growers have attended sustainability workshops, meetings or other sustainability-related events. There were 26 sustainability workshops and meetings hosted by the Sonoma County Winegrowers in 2014. Eight of the county’s 16 AVAs held sustainability workshops in the past year.
As the past year evolved, industry leaders met and the 100 year plan was written. It is designed as a living document and will be executed through both annual and five-year benchmarks that will identify transformational opportunities for collaboration and seek partnerships with a variety of groups including agricultural, business, community and education as well as government leaders to find tangible solutions and provide flexibility for the unexpected. The time period of 100 years was chosen as a natural period that touches everyone in a tangible way – it represents two generations before and the next two future generations in essence spanning from grandparents to grandchildren. The plan addresses such issues as innovation and research, natural resources, the regulatory environment, community engagement and marketing while building coalitions throughout the community in support of sustaining agriculture in Sonoma County forever.
“This effort is charting a path to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County for the next 100 years,” said Brad Petersen, a third-generation grape grower who manages vineyards at Silver Oak Cellars and chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers board of directors. He added, “It provides us and those who follow with a set of guiding principles to ensure agriculture is successfully preserved and that Sonoma County will remain the best wine region in the world for the next 100 years and beyond.”
The verdict is in. A whisky distilled more than two decades ago, then tucked away and forgotten, is the best Canadian whisky of 2014. A jury of nine independent whisky experts named Collingwood 21 Year Old Rye the Canadian Whisky of the Year at the fifth annual Canadian Whisky Awards. They announced the results of this annual blind tasting competition Thursday evening, January 15, at the Victoria Whisky Festival in Victoria, B.C.
Chairman of the judges, Davin de Kergommeaux, described Collingwood Rye as: “A Canadian whisky connoisseur’s dream come true.” Only 50 barrels of Collingwood 21 Year Old Rye were distilled at the Canadian Mist Distillery in Collingwood, Ontario. Canadian stocks are almost gone, though limited quantities are still available from select U.S. liquor stores.
Other top winners include Lot No. 40, Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye, Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve, Masterson’s 10-Year-Old Rye, and Crown Royal Monarch. Forty Creek distillery’s John Hall received a lifetime achievement award.
“Interest in Canadian whisky continues to grow and Canada’s whisky makers have responded with a wealth of new high-end whiskies,” said de Kergommeaux as he revealed the winners. “For the first time a major legacy brand, Canadian Club, has released 100 percent rye grain whisky as a core offering. Canada’s best-selling whisky, Crown Royal, became the first major brand to release high-proof single barrel whisky, and Collingwood bottled long-aged rye whisky. Overall, distillers have released more small batch and top-end deluxe whiskies than ever before.”
Sales of flavored whisky also remain strong with Forty Creek, Centennial, and Sortilège making strong gains.
The list of all the winners is now available at http://www.canadianwhisky.org.