Booze Newz: In High Spirits

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Trade Talks May Have Liquor Brands Toasting

International trade negotiations could be a boon for alcohol brands, especially American and Scottish whiskies. The U.S. is talking with South Korea about getting rid of a 20% import duty on bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, while the European Union is trying to reach an agreement with India to reduce high tariffs on foreign spirits. With whiskies growing in popularity worldwide, lower tariffs would certainly translate to higher sales. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, if tariffs are cancelled, U.S. exports to Korea could rise to about $17.6 million a year, up from about $6 million in 2009.[more]

Grey Goose Importer Launches New Artisanal Vodka

The company that got the ultra-premium vodka ball rolling by bringing Grey Goose to the U.S. is back in the game, this time with a made-in-the-USA organic artisanal vodka. Sidney Frank Importing is launching American Harvest Organic Spirit flavored vodka, made in Rigby, Idaho, and “handcrafted in small batches from organic winter wheat.” Although the vodka field is a crowded one, the launch is significant in showing which direction the market may be heading. And, according to The Wall Street Journal, it even tastes good: “We found it clean, slightly creamy and smooth — no oily mouth feel, as is often the case with vodka – and perfectly suitable for stand-alone sipping.”

Coppola Looks to Make a Comeback Hit – with Wine

Comeback stories make for good cinema, and director/winemaker Francis Ford Coppola is also betting that they make for great wine as he tries to turn around the fortunes of the Inglenook wine brand. This week, Coppola bought the Inglenook name from The Wine Group and he has commissioned the director of Bordeaux’s Château Margaux, Philippe Bascaules, to try to return Inglenook to the glories of its former heyday from the ‘30s to the ‘60s, when it was known for making world-class Cabernet. Coppola’s current property, the Niebaum-Coppola Estate, lies on the original site of the Inglenook winery.

“The name might have been trashed and ruined, but people are still paying tens of thousands of dollars for bottles from the previous era. It all needs to be reunited,” said Coppola in a statement.

The Food Network Cooks Up New Wine Collection

While Coppola is trying to elevate a low-end market brand, the Food Network is looking to bring wine to the masses this summer with its new wine collection, Entwine. Including 2009 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Grigio, the collection is produced by Wente Vineyards in California. Bottles will be priced at $12.99 and the wines are designed to ”take the mystery out of wine for our viewers so that they could enjoy the marriage of food and wine as much as we do,” Sergei Kuharsky, General Manager of New Enterprises, Food Network, said in a statement. No word on whether the bottles actually come with training wheel — or whether its spinoff Cooking Channel plans to launch a cooking wine collection.

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