Quantcast

Category Archives: Wine news

Winebits 346: Lawsuits, drunks, cheap wine

winenews

wine lawsuitsGet off my horse: Chateau Cheval Blanc, the top-rated Bordeaux producer whose wines can cost thousands of dollars a bottle, is suing Domaine du Cheval Blanc, a small family-owned Bordeaux winery that hardly anyone has heard of, claiming the latter must change its name. The Wine Curmudgeon mentions this because of his interest in wine lawsuits and their inherent foolishness, in which the biggest companies pursue legal action for no other reason than they can. Because, honestly, who would confuse this wine with this wine? But not this wine with this wine? Wine-Searcher.com reports that Chateau Cheval Blanc, which lost the case once, won on appeal and has returned to court to force Domaine du Cheval Blanc to pick a new name. The story is complicated, as most are for those of us who aren’t trademark attorneys, but the upshot is that it looks like Chateau will win. And people wonder why I get so cranky.

Turn up the Beethoven: Commit lots of alcohol-related crimes in London? Then you’ll be forced to wear ankle tags that monitor the levels of alcohol in your sweat. Yes, it’s all very “Clockwork Orange,” but London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, has other concerns. Drunks deter “law-abiding citizens from enjoying our great city, especially at night.” The impetus for the idea? The success of similar ankle systems with drunk drivers in the U.S. So glad the British can learn something from us, especially after all they have given this country.

Drink that cheap wine: English wine consultant Jerry Lockspeiser writes in Harpers, a British trade magazine, that consumers are perfectly happy buying cheap wine, noting that there is no correlation between price and wine people like. Then he asks: If consumers are happy, why does the wine business try so hard to sell them expensive wine? The Wine Curmudgeon practically swooned when he read that. The interesting bit, of course, is the question, which he answers in two parts: That the business is convinced it will make more money off pricey wine, which may or may not be true, and that they’re snobs: “… we pity the poor souls who have not see the light. We know, because we are chosen.” I should send this guy a cheap wine book, no?

Treasury Wine Estate’s plan to avoid a hostile takeover

winenews

Treasury hostile takeoverThe Wine Curmudgeon mentions Treasury’s scheme for two reasons. First, and most importantly, it doesn’t seem very sustainable. The troubled Australian multi-national wine company, whose holdings include California’s Beringer, has been losing more millions than most of us have socks.

Yet, despite its problems, Treasury wants to boost business to fend off a hostile takeover from private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which tried to buy Treasury earlier this year and made another offer this week. The second offer was a little higher, but probably won’t scare anyone.

Treasury’s anti-takeover plan features selling heavily discounted wine refrigerators to customers in Australia. The Brisbane Times newspaper reports that the company’s new boss “labelled the wine cabinet promotion the biggest consumer-facing promotion ever undertaken by the company.” Which should tell us all we need to know about Treasury’s lack of marketing ability.

How does it work? Buy six bottles of a Penfolds Bin wine, which cost from AU$30 to AU$80 a bottle, and you can buy a AU$650 wine fridge for AU$200. In other words, buy six bottles of AU$30 Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley riesling and the refrigerator and pay AU$380 — just 58 percent of what the refrigerator would cost by itself. Given retail discounting, in fact, you could probably get the fridge for at least 50 percent off. Is it any wonder that Treasury wrote down AU$260 million earlier this year and fired its CEO?

The second reason I mention this? The Wine Curmudgeon, financial genius that he is, bought 100 shares of Treasury stock in hopes KKR (as we high-flying investment types call Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) would make another, much higher offer for Treasury. My retirement to Burgundy never seemed so close.

I paid about what KKR offered the first time, so news that Treasury seems to be throwing away money on the refrigerator promotion is not welcome. The company is reducing inventory and margins to increase cash flow, which will not boost its value or make me rich. KKR’s second, not much higher, offer confirmed this.

In the wine business, the old joke always seems to apply. Or, as one actual real-life financial type told me: “With a little luck, you might get a nice bottle of wine out of this.”

Winebits 345: Sipping wine, wine in China, cheap wine

winenews

wine news ChinaBring on the students: It’s hard to believe that Texas is more progressive about wine than California, but it apparently was until last month in one area. That’s when the latter’s governor signed legislation to allow underage beer and wine students to taste in class. The bill requires them to spit, but that’s what we’ve been doing in Texas for years. One of the great joys during my tenure as the wine instructor at the Cordon Bleu in Dallas was enforcing the spit rule during the classes’ red and white tastings at the end of each term. Not surprisingly, the students who didn’t like wine were most demonstrative in showing me they were spitting.

Not quite yet: The wine business has been falling all over itself trying to sell wine to China, figuring that was the easiest way to make zillions and solve its other problems while not actually doing anything to solve them. Now, someone besides the Wine Curmudgeon is wondering if that’s the best policy. Margareth Henriquez, who heads Krug Champagne, told Britain’s Harpers wine trade magazine that the wine business should devote more resources to serving customers in more established markets, including and especially the United States.”China will take some time, certainly for sparkling wine producers and it would be a mistake, I believe, for the wine world to put too much emphasis on this market,” she said. And to think I’ve been giving that advice away for free; I never was much of a businessman.

Bring on the cheap wine: This is not news here, of course, but is worth noting since it’s a health item, and how often does one see cheap wine and health linked? (And also why it gets an exemption from the blog’s ban on wine and health news). A British cardiologist says cheap wine is better for you than expensive wine, since $10 wine may have more anti-oxidants than the expensive stuff. The story in the link is poorly reported (picked up and edited from elsewhere, perhaps?), and seems to apply only to wines from certain parts of the world. But it’s still worth a giggle.

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: suv | Thanks to toyota suv, infiniti suv and lexus suv