Müller launches fat-free Gin & Tonic yoghurt

26th September, 2019

The UK arm of German dairy giant Müller is to add two gin-flavoured yoghurts to its Müllerlight range, one inspired by the classic G&T and the other flavoured with pink gin and elderflower.

The official yoghurt brand of British Athletics has stated that the launch of the new flavoured yoghurts will be supported by an ongoing multimedia campaign, featuring brand ambassador and British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Made with British milk, the yoghurts are fat-free and contain no added sugar. They are now available in Tesco and Asda stores and will be sold in six-packs, which include both flavour variants.

The packs will retail for £3 each and are served in 160g pots.

Michael Inpong, chief marketing officer at Müller, said: “With the constant shifting consumer behaviour, we need to find smart ways to grow the brand and drive category growth.

“We’ve already strengthened the core with a new and improved recipe, and we’re launching two new limited editions, Müllerlight Irish Coffee Flavour Yoghurt and Müllerlight Mince Pie Flavour Yoghurt.

“Gin is the UK’s favourite spirit, and now people can enjoy the taste in a yoghurt that is also fat free, high in protein and contains 0% added sugar.”

According to data published by the WSTA in August, the gin boom in the UK shows no signs of slowing, with domestic sales and exports hitting a record £3 billion in the past year.

In the year to March 2019, domestic sales amounted to over 76 million bottles worth £2.3 billion. This, combined with exports of £730m in the year to May 2019 (HMRC), puts the value of the entire UK gin category at £3bn.

Based on the figures available, the WSTA predicts that domestic sales of UK gin will surpass the 100 million bottle mark within the next year.

Scotland’s minimum pricing ‘cuts alcohol consumption by 1.2 units a week’

26th September, 2019

A study published in the British Medical Journal exploring the impact of minimum unit pricing in Scotland has found that for the eight months after May 2018, alcohol consumption fell by the equivalent of 1.2 units a week.

Published online on 25 September, the study, which was led by a team at the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, aimed to assess the immediate impact of MUP in Scotland on household alcohol purchases.

The study found that since MUP came into effect on 1 May, households in Scotland had purchased on average 9.5g less alcohol (1.2 units) per week, the equivalent of around half a pint of beer.

It noted that reduction in alcohol purchases was greater in lower income households and was especially evident in the top 20% of households that purchased the most alcohol. In such households, the amount of alcohol purchased reduced by around 15g per week (1.9 units).

“In terms of immediate impact, the introduction of minimum unit pricing appears to have been successful in reducing the amount of alcohol purchased by households in Scotland. The action was targeted, in that reductions of purchased alcohol only occurred in the households that bought the most alcohol,” the report noted.

The team used data supplied by Kantar Worldpanel which recorded the household spend on alcohol purchased in the off-trade, namely supermarkets and other shops.

It examined the information recorded from 5,325 Scottish households, using data from 54,807 English households as a control and 10,040 households in northern England in order “to control for potential cross border effects”.

The study noted that MUP laws resulted in a “similar” change in price for beer, wine and spirits; higher prices for cider and fortified wines and no significant change for ready-to-drink products. Its findings noted a drop in purchase of beer, spirits and cider, a “non-significant” drop in wine consumption and “no change” in the buying of fortified wines and RTD products.

While comparing eight months of data following the implementation of MUP, compared to the three months examined in an earlier NHS Scotland study, the study does not account for the affect of MUP on on-trade sales.

The authors of the study admit this limitation, adding: “restricting of our analyses to off-trade data could have resulted in an inflated overall level of impact”.

The study also noted the need for “future analyses” to evaluate “longer term effects”, especially in view of the fact that their data appears to show a rise in the purchase of alcohol in the last portion of 2018 – though admittedly this could well be due to the festive period.

The data also shows the amount of alcohol purchased rather than actual alcohol consumption.

While NHS Scotland has already published its early findings, it will publish a more comprehensive evaluation of MUP based on an assessment of a longer period in 2023.

Scotland became the first country in the world to implement minimum unit pricing in May 2018. Legislation was passed in 2012, but the matter was taken to court by the Scotch Whisky Association, eventually approval following a Supreme Court ruling in 2017. 

Wales passed a similar MUP bill in June 2018 and plans to introduce the measure in 2020. Neither England nor Northern Ireland currently have plans to implement it.

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Total Wine loses appeal to open second New York liquor stores

26th September, 2019

US retailer Total Wine & More has lost its appeal to expand its footprint in New York, after the state’s Supreme Court upheld the New York State Liquor Authority’s (SLA) refusal to grant a license for a proposed site in Westchester, saying it was “not appropriate for the region”.

The retailer was hoping to open a large store of around 21,000 square foot warehouse store in Hartsdale, White Plains, and appealed to the state’s supreme court after it was refused permission in a hearing last December.

The supreme court has upheld that decision, upholding the SLA’s decision that issuing a license would not serve the public interest, saying a new mega-store would not add anything in a market where there were already 200 ‘package’ stores (where liquor is sold in sealed containers for off-premises consumption) and that sales of alcohol was already declining in existing stores.

It is the second time the retailer has been refused permission to expand in the New York area, after its application to open a store in Stony Brook was rejected by the state liquor board

The executive director of the Metropolitan Package Liquor Store Association Michael Correra, who represents around 2,500 small-business “Mom and Pop” package liquor stores across the lower New York area, said it was refreshing to see the State Supreme court “recognise and reaffirm” the State Liquor Authority’s decision. He added that the ruling was relevant to another fight being waged by local stores against Total Wines, who want to open another store in Queens, which is being opposed by local small drinks stores.

Recently high-profile Democratic congresswoman Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined the fight against Total Wines opening the store in her home district. According to the New York Post, she has written to the head of the state liquor authority voicing her concern about the possibly impact of the national drinks store coming to the vibrant local business in her district.

“As a large retailer with ties to a billion dollar nationwide chain, Total Wines has access to resources and economies of scale with which smaller retailers could not compete,” she is reported as saying.

“Total Wines has a history of loss leader pricing — selling alcohol at or below cost in order to sell high-end products at a generous margin. Our small businesses would not be able to compete with such practices and it would be devastating to the largely immigrant community that is currently employed at many of these stores.”

Total Wines & More was established by brothers Robert and David Trone, and operates around 200 stores in 25 states, including a warehouse in Westbury on Long Island, which it opened in 2017.

Current liquor laws in New York state prohibits national liquor store chains from applying for a state license to open and operate stores in the states, but does allow entrepreneurs affiliated with national firms to apply for a single license for an individual store under a different corporate name.

The appeal was lodged by White Plains Fine Wine & Spirits LLC and its sole owner Robert Trone.

Kent winery releases English winemaking firsts

26th September, 2019

Kent’s Hush Heath Estate has released a set of English winemaking firsts, including a white wine containing all seven ‘Champagne’ grapes, a red made with just Pinot Meunier, and a zero-dosage fizz.

Called the Winemakers’ Collection, the launch comprise three wines, all from the 2018 harvest, and each made by a Hush Heath winemaker, who were given free rein to produce something innovative in the cellar.

To celebrate the set of novel wines, English abstract artist Keith Coventry was commissioned to create the labels (see picture, left).

Speaking exclusively to the drinks business about the trio of wines last week in Kent, owner of Hush Heath Estate Richard Balfour-Lynne said that last year’s vintage was “such a great year”, that he suggested his winemakers craft a “one-off wine, something they fancied making, but that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Meanwhile, Richard’s wife, Leslie, who is an art collector, chose Keith Coventry as the label-designer for the special releases, who she described as a brilliant, if “undervalued” artist.

The wines from the collection can be read about below:

  1. 1. Victoria Ash’s Blanc de Blancs is a 100% Chardonnay from the 2012 and 2013 vintages, barrel fermented, and matured in French oak for twelve months. With zero dosage, it is believed to be the first of its kind in England. It is named after Hush Heath head winemaker, Victoria Ash, who was behind its creation.

Commenting on the wine, she said, “For me it is the Chardonnay that really typifies the Hush Heath Estate, bringing forward herbaceous tones and powerful saline notes. These grapes come from specific blocks of very special vines. From my experiences in New Zealand, it was an exciting opportunity to put some of our best Chardonnay juice into old French Oak, and create a completely different style for the winery.”

2. This Septered Isle 2018 was made by assistant winemaker Fergus Elias who chose a play on the French word for seven for his wine, because it is a still white made from the seven permitted grape varieties used in Champagne. Apart from the Pinot Gris, the other six are all grown at Hush Heath – Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Arbanne and Pinot Meunier.

He explained: “I was inspired after tasting a sparkling base wine we made in 2014 with six of the Champagne grape varieties from the estate. It had fantastic complexity, and real still wine potential. But it was not until the exceptional 2018 harvest, and the unearthing of a small local parcel of Pinot Gris, that This Septered Isle was born.’

3. The Red Miller 2018 is still red from a single plot of exceptionally ripe Pinot Meunier made by Fergus’ father Owen, a consultant at Hush Heath. Harvested on 19 October last year, it was given three days fermentation on the skins, followed by a brief time in French and American oak, minimal filtration and no fining.

Owen commented, “Pinot Meunier is rarely seen as a still red anywhere in the world. Here we have a delicate and aromatic wine which will be extremely interesting as it develops over the next two years.”

Victoria Ash Blanc de Blancs rrp £80 (1,000 bottles); This Septered Isle rrp £40 (3,000 bottles) and The Red Miller rrp £40 (5,000 bottles) are available from UK distributor Liberty Wines or direct from Hush Heath Estate.

The winemakers at Hush Heath (left to right): Fergus Elias, Victoria Ash, Owen Elias

Meanwhile, last week db witnessed a major moment for the English wine industry as the first bottles of a Sir Ian Botham-backed rosé from Hush Heath Estate in Kent were labelled and readied for Tesco.

The listing in the UK’s largest supermarket chain is a major moment for the English wine industry as it gives national distribution to a still rosé – which, db believes, is a first.

The still rosé is made from a blend of Champagne grapes Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay, along with hybrid red grape Regner, all of which hail from the exceptional 2018 harvest in England.

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The Languedoc in pictures

26th September, 2019

db’s Lucy Shaw headed to the Languedoc last weekend to take part in the harvest with one of the region’s pioneers, Gérard Bertrand. But before any grapes were picked there was time for a quick visit to the Medieval city of Carcassonne, a UNESCO world heritage site.

In a hat tip to its Medieval past, the city is filled with knights in shining armour – db’s fine wine editor, Rupert Millar would have had a field day…

Watch: Bear caught on camera stealing Pinot Noir grapes from vineyard

26th September, 2019

A bear with expensive taste has been caught on camera sampling high elevation Pinot Noir grapes from a vineyard in Mendocino, California.

The crafty caniform was caught on camera by Anderson Valley-based Navarro Vineyards after the producer installed CCTV at their high elevation Upper Marking Corral vineyard.

In a Facebook post, vineyard workers said the site in question was due to be harvested in a few weeks time.

“Navarro’s taste-tester is back to ‘get it when the gettin’ is good’. As we’re continuing our harvest, our night time friend continues to munch on Pinot Noir from our high-elevation vineyards. We’ll be ready to harvest these grapes in the next few weeks, so hopefully this big guy leaves some for us,” the Facebook post read.

Back in August, the vineyard posted a similar video capturing a range of nocturnal vineyard visitors including foxes, rodents and a bear.

Navarro was established in 1973 in coastal Mendocino by Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn, and continues to be run by the family and their children.

As well as Pinot Noir, the vineyard grows Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Muscat Blanc.

Second generation owner Aaron Bennett said in a Facebook message that he believed there were at least three bears in the area, believed to be a male and female bear with a cub.

65 new exhibitors to feature at TFWA World Exhibition & Conference

25th September, 2019

This year’s TFWA World Exhibition & Conference is set to welcome 65 new exhibitors, which include Concha y Toro, to Cannes from 30 September to 4 October.

Over 500 exhibitors are set to take part in this year’s event, with those making their debut including Chile’s Concha Y Toro, Champagne Lanson and Hunter Laing.

TFWA’s Innovation Lab, held in partnership with Alibaba’s travel brand Fliggy, will return again this year, featuring 28 forward-thinking companies showcasing their latest products and ideas, including those in the digital and mobile technology, sustainability and CSR sectors. A number of global brands, including Diageo and Cartier, will also be showcasing their new releases.

The lab will run from 1 October to midday on 4 October in a special tented area facing the Majestic Beach. It will start at 9am with a press breakfast, with an innovation in action workshop also scheduled for the same day at the Majestic Hotel, Salon Croisette.

Alain Maingreaud, TFWA president, said: “From the growth of digital technology to increasing demand for more sustainable practices, the duty free and travel retail industry is undergoing a number of significant changes that will greatly impact our business in the coming years.

“Exhibitors joining us at the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference and TFWA Innovation Lab will offer a window into the trends, tools and services that will enable all industry stakeholders to prepare for this transformation and help them better serve the future needs of the international traveller.”

Henriot cellar master moves to Champagne Mumm

25th September, 2019

Laurent Fresnet, formerly the cellar master at Champagne Henriot, is to move to Champagne Mumm, taking over from Didier Mariotti.

The son of a Champagne grower and winemaker, Fresnet was appointed cellar master at Reims-based Champagne Henriot in 2006.

He will continue in his role at Henriot until the end of this year, moving to Pernod Ricard-owned Mumm in January.

After studying oenology, biology and biochemistry at Reims, Fresnet spent time working in New Zealand, South Africa and Portugal.

Returning to his homeland, he was a winemaker in the south of France for three years before moving back to Champagne to join producer Cazals in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger for seven years. Before joining Henriot, he was the director of cooperative La Vigneronne in Vertus.

Christophe Danneaux, vice president of Pernod Ricard’s Champagne division, said: “For nearly 200 years, Maison Mumm has a passion for both the quality of its wines and innovation. We are convinced that Laurent Fresnet will perfectly fit into this philosophy.”

It follows news announced in July that Didier Mariotti was to become Champagne Veuve Cliquot’s new cellar master, joining the team on 26 August and working with outgoing head winemaker Dominique Demarville in a transition period, before taking full control on 1 January 2020.

Mariotti was made cellar master at Mumm in 2009. Demarville left Veuve Clicquot to take up the role of chef de cave at Laurent Perrier.

Gladwin brothers to open Sussex in Soho

25th September, 2019

Richard, Oliver and Gregory Gladwin, the trio behind The Shed in Notting Hill and Rabbit in Chelsea, are to open their first West End site, Sussex, in Soho next month.

Chef Oliver Gladwin will go back to his roots at Sussex

Named after the county they grew up in, Sussex will celebrate produce from the south-east English countryside where the boys help run their family farm, Ashurst Wood, and vineyard, Nutbourne.

In keeping with the Gladwin’s farm to fork philosophy, ingredients will be sourced directly from the family farm and local suppliers, while the wines will hail from Nutbourne alongside small grower drops from around the world.

In addition to artisan wines, Sussex will serve craft beer and seasonal cocktails.

The restaurant will take over the Frith Street site where Arbutus resided. Oliver Gladwin, the chef of the trio, will combine classical training with modern techniques at the site.

On the snacks front, expect the likes of home-cured charcuterie; smoked trout cornettos with blood orange pearls and dill powder; beef and horseradish crackling with burnt onion emulsion; and homemade truffled burrata.

Starters will include hand dived scallops with blood pudding, Jerusalem artichoke and lemon sour cream; and rabbit loin and carrot terrine.

Among the main events will be pork tenderloin with malted pig’s cheek, rainbow chard, lardo and hazelnut miso; and roasted brill with Devon crab ravioli served on a sourdough crumpet.

Those with a sweet tooth can look forward to dark chocolate and salted caramel Viennetta. A chef’s table downstairs will seat up to 20 guests.

An in-depth look at the growing farm to fork movement in the UK will appear in the October issue of The Drinks Business.

Viral beer money plea raises over $1m for charity

25th September, 2019

After holding up a sign asking people to send him money for beer during an American football match, Iowa State fan Carson King has raised over US$1 million, which he will be donating to a children’s hospital.

Image: Carson King

King, 24, held up his sign asking for more Busch Light beer, which directed viewers to his account with mobile payment service Venmo, during a match on 14 September between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones.

Within hours of the broadcast, King had received over 2,000 notifications from his account.

The total amount received at the time of writing (25 September) is now $1.125 million.

Speaking during an appearance on Good Morning America, King said: “I thought it would just be a joke. I didn’t think anyone would actually see it.”

King tweeted after the game that he would donate all proceeds, minus the cost of a case of beer, to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital which overlooks the football stadium.

Both Venmo and AB InBev-owned Busch Light have pledged to match the donations, which led to King breaking the $1m barrier on Sunday (22 September)

King will accept donations until the end of this month.