Pernod Ricard will release three new wines under New Zealand brand Brancott Estate this summer in a bid to show the diversity the Marlborough region can offer.

Asda’s exclusive label Pierre Darcys Champagne fought its way into the UK’s five-bestselling Champagne brands over Christmas after the retailer slashed its price to £10.

Smirnoff was the star performer

Drinks retailers enjoyed a relatively strong Christmas trading period as BWS volume sales grew by the slightest of margins.

Hollywood actor Sam Neill has bought a fourth vineyard in Bannockburn, Central Otago.

Bermuda rum producer Gosling’s has launched a pre-mixed can of Gosling’s Dark n Stormy cocktail – made with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer.

William Grant & Sons has created a scholarship to give off-trade workers the chance to study spirits at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, in honour of former prestige retail manager Ian Murray.

Bargain Booze owner Conviviality Retail enjoyed a strong Christmas trading period as like-for-like franchisee retail sales grew 2.8% in the two weeks to January 5.

Asda has axed its controversial three-for-£10 wine promotion after admitting it had become impossible to maintain quality and deliver profit.

New wine tax brand plea

17 January, 2014

Australian Vintage claims wines with an abv of up to 10.5% would account for a third of wine sold in the UK if the government introduced a new tax band.

Volume sales of wine at 5.5% abv and under are down 12% over the past year.

Leading players in the UK trade are calling on the Australian government and Wine Australia to boost funding for the body’s UK arm so it can keep competing against rival countries.

A supplier has urged the beer industry to devise a proper classification system to prevent the trade using the tag “world beers” to describe drinks brewed in the UK.

Red C cider rebrands

16 January, 2014

Shepton Mallet Cider Mill has relaunched its Red C cider with a new-look pack.

Guinness has signed up a Congolese fashion cult called the Sapeurs to star in its colourful new TV ad.

Enotria has signed up an Australian producer who makes wines designed to be drunk with game.

Benevolent chairman Chris Porter is to visit all 91 league football grounds in the UK in two weeks, using only trains, trams and a push-bike to raise cash for the trade charity. 

Three major Beaujolais producers have teamed up to buy vineyards in a bid to secure a long-term future for producers in the region.

The South African wine industry exported a record 5.52 million hl in 2013.

Japanese supplier Suntory Holdings has bought US group Beam in a £9.7 billion deal that creates the world’s third-largest spirits company.

Workers at C&C Group’s Shepton Mallet cider plant are threatening industrial action after a row over pay.

Liberty snaps up Montes

10 January, 2014

Chilean winery Viña Montes has left PLB and signed up Liberty Wines as its UK distributor.

Italian liqueur Aperol has become Manchester United’s official spirits partner and will feature on digital advertising boards at home matches until the end of the 2016/17 season.

Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat is ramping up its focus on the UK market by setting up a London office in the Old Truman’s brewery in Shoreditch.

Scotland will axe the public health supplement tax it imposes on supermarkets that sell alcohol and tobacco when it expires in 2015.

Supermarkets have come under fire from the Home Office for selling alcohol next to sweets and school uniforms.

Bottle Green has increased volume sales of Hungarian wine by 62% in the past year and is now developing its own range to build on the growth.

Marblehead has signed up French ginger liqueur Domaine de Canton, made with fresh baby ginger from Vietnam.

Enotria has added boutique Australian winery Burch Family Wines to its portfolio.

Trade bodies have hit back after the British Medical Journal accused lobbyists of killing minimum unit pricing through a “cosy” relationship with Government.

Strong sales of South African Sauvignon Blanc and Argentinian Malbec drove a 5.9% rise in sales over the Christmas period at Majestic.

Richard Tanner, one of Britain’s leading wine merchants, has died following a battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

The drinks industry has been accused of enjoying too “cosy” a relationship with the government in a report on the collapse of minimum unit pricing.

E-cigarette brand Njoy has vowed to banish tobacco to the history books after gaining listings in 15,000 stores this month.

Tesco has opened an alcohol-free convenience store in Newcastle upon Tyne after the city’s licensing boss launched a clampdown on off-licences in the area.

Bargain Booze owner Conviviality Retail has appointed former Jessops boss David Adams as chairman as part of a boardroom shake-up.

US craft vodka to launch

06 January, 2014

Hi-Spirits is set to launch Tito’s Handmade Vodka, a six-time pot distilled vodka from Texas.

US craft beer range Fordham has been given a new look and added an IPA to the line-up.

A wholesaler who suffered the theft of 16,000 bottles of Brewdog beer from his warehouse in Essex has urged the trade to help him recover it.

Gin pioneer Martin Miller has died after a short battle with cancer.

Scotch whisky exports have almost doubled in the past 10 years, according to new analysis of HM Revenue & Customs figures by the Scottish government.

A Berkshire brewery is offering fans of its beers the opportunity to invest in the business.

The French wine company that once owned Oddbins has been fined €4 million (£3.3 million) for failing to disclose the 2011 acquisition of six compaines from the Burgundy wine producer Patriarche to competition authorities.

Three people have been fined for serving alcohol to under-18s after Thames Valley Police and West Oxfordshire District Council undertook a Christmas test purchasing operation.

The William Grant Scotch whisky business has announced the death of Charles Gordon, a member of the owning family and the company’slife president. He was 86.

Brewdog has closed its Equity for Punks share ownership scheme a monthly early after hitting its £4.25 million investment target.

Absinthe Hapsburg has launched its XC Cassis style in the UK.

Marks & Spencer has moved to clarify its position on the sale of alcohol by staff with strong religious beliefs.

Award-winning wine shop chain Corks Out has lost Champagne and spirits worth an estimated £8,000 in a raid on its warehouse in Runcorn.

Football fans can win a trip to Spain to watch FC Barcelona play live next year in an on-pack promotion from Estrella Damm.

English sparkling wine producer Gusbourne Estate has secured a £2 million loan from Barclay’s to help increase production and develop the business.

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What to expect at Christmas

The arrival of October means that we’re now officially in Nielsen’s Christmas trading period. Manufacturers and retailers alike have until December 30 to optimise their sales plans and activate them in-store in order to win at Christmas.

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