Celebrity-owned wine companies are commonplace. Think Francis Ford Coppola, Fess Parker, Jerry Garcia, Greg Norman, Olivia Newton-John and so forth.
And whatever you do, don't ignore Lorraine Bracco. At a recent Long Island high-society do in The Hamptons, she unveiled her ninth Bracco Wines label, this one called Rosato. It's a new rose from Salento, Italy.
Bracco, whose film and TV career was highlighted by her role as psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi on "The Sopranos," lives in a Bridgehampton mansion she had on the market for $2.5 million until recently deciding to stay put.
Her Rosato is described as "a medium-bodied rose made from the Negroamaro grape grown in vineyards located along the Adriatic and Ionian seas."
–Boxed wine is nothing new on the American market, and many European countries are selling it as well. The thing is most such wines are run-of-the-mill.
Would they sell even better if they came from a high-level French producer?
Cordier Mestrezat Grands Crus, an upscale Bordeaux house for more than 100 years, is hoping that will be the case with its new offering, called Tandem. It's quite a departure from Cordier's top-shelf wines that can go for four figures.
Tandem is packaged in an 8.5-ounce carton containing red, white or rose wines. Each carton has a straw with four holes, which is supposed to spray the wine into the consumer's mouth and, thus, mimic the sensation of drinking from a glass.
The winemaker is test marketing Tandem in 600 supermarkets in Belgium at $2.50 a carton. It will go on sale in France next year as well as in the U.S. and elswehere.
Cordier officials says they are try?ing to attract younger consumers in a domestic market that is seeing a drop off in sales of French wine in favor of American and South American imports and, indeed, a drop off in wine sales in general as spirits gains market share.
"It is a product that can sell in stadiums, hotels and airlines," Vincent Bonhur, Cordier's head of marketing, said in a press release. "In France, the wine market is still very traditional, but in markets such as Canada, the U.K. and Northern Europe, this new format should be a hit."
–Sugary stuff: Anheuser-Busch is taking another step into the spirits field, filing with the federal government to trademark the name "Luzia," which it describes as a cachaca product.
Cachaca is a rum-like Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane. Most rums are made from molasses, a byproduct of cooking sugar cane.
Cachaca is the top-selling spirit in Brazil, and popular through Central and South America, and recently has been getting a bit of a foothold in the U.S. market.
Two years ago, A-B launched its first spirits product, a liqueur pairing called Jekyll & Hyde. Earlier this year it entered into a deal with Ku Soju Inc. of South Korea to distribute its soju, a sweet potato-based version of vodka. And, it already has trademarked Pomacai, a pomegranate/acair berry-flavored vodka as well as entering into a regional distribution deal with Vermont Spirits to handle some upscale vodkas.
— Speaking of vodka, you probably don't often associate it with sugar cane. Or South Africa. The judges at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in England, however, obviously do. They awarded the top vodka honor to Mainstay, a South African brand which is sugar-cane based.
The judging panel described Mainstay as "exceptionally clean on the nose …Lively attack in the mouth with a slight sweetness and some fine floral and fruity notes. More complex and full bodied than most. Very attractive and well distilled product … Ends with bright, zesty, clean finish."
(William M. Dowd covers the beverage world online at BillDowd.com)
c.2007 Hearst Newspapers