Florida-based Calendar Girl Wines introduced its first two wines to the market, with fun labels – Bodacious Brunette and Buxom Blonde. The wines, created by Washington State’s Gordon Estates Winery, will be available in 19 states across the country. Depending on the market, the wines will retail for $15 to $22 a bottle. Bodacious Brunette is a red blend wine with flavors of black cherry and dark chocolate. Buxom Blone is a white blend with sweeter notes like mango, star fruit, and pear. www.calendargirlwines.com
Bend, Oregon-based Bendistillery recently added another flavor to its line of Crater Lake vodkas. Crater Lake Sweet Ginger vodka is a 35-percent abv, gluten-free vodka that is infused with crystallized whole ginger root. The vodka is all natural, with no artificial flavorings or sweeteners. www.bendistillery.com
Earlier in 2013, A. Hardy USA announced two new products for its Thatcher’s line. Thatcher’s Organic Artisan vodka is a 40-percent abv vodka made from organic American grains. The company also introduced a new flavor to its Organic Artisan Liqueurs. Prickly Pear is a 15-percent abv sweet liqueur made from prickly pear cactus fruit harvested during the summer. Both products will retail for $19.99 and are available nationwide. www.thatchersorganic.com
Famed for its seasonal beer releases, Tenth and Blake Beer Company’s Blue Moon Brewing Company, the craft beer division of MillerCoors, will start releasing its Summer 2013 ale, Blue Moon Agave Nectar Ale, in April 2013. The 5.6-percent abv brew is made with agave nectar and wheat, which gives it a slight malt taste. The beer is available at restaurants and retailers through July 2013 for $7.99 to $8.99 per six-pack. www.bluemoonbrewingcompany.com
DeLeon Tequila’s new ultra-premium tequila for ultra-premium price
DeLeón Tequila introduced a new ultra-premium tequila–Leóna Tequila–in December 2012. The 40% abv limited-edition tequila is available nationwide, but only 5,000 bottles are available in the US. The tequila is made of 100% blue agave and aged 34 months in Sauternes barrels and packed in a black box with a python flask. $825 for 750 ml. deleontequila.com
Limited edition single malt Scotch
International Beverage holdings released a limited edition 40-year-old single malt Scotch in November 2012. The Old Pulteney is a 51.3% abv spirit that is sold in a hand-blown glass bottle, packaged in a one-of-a-kind wooden box. $2,400 for 750 ml. oldpulteney.com
New gins hit the market
Pernod Ricard USA introduced a new label to its Plymouth gin brand. Plymouth Navy Strength is a 57% abv spirit (compared to the original 41.2% abv). $34.99 for 750 ml. plymouthgin.com West Australian Distilling Company brought Opal Blue Gin to the US in November 2012. The 40% abv gin is made of locally grown juniper berries, forest anise, rosella, lemon myrtle, wattleseed, and forestberry. $30 for 750 ml. wadistilling.com
New beers for the winter
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales released Birra Etrusca Bronze in November 2012 as the newest beer in its Ancient Ales series. The new ale is made with 2-row malted barley, heirloom Italian wheat, whole-flower hops, gentian root, Ethiopian myrrh resin, hazelut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey, and clover honey. The beer is fermented with bronze. The 8.25% abv is available in 26 states. $12.99 for 750 ml. dogfish.com Innis & Gunn USA introduced its seasonal, limited edition porter-style beer in October 2012. The 7.4% abv Winter Beer 2012 is inspired by a 19th-century recipe with molasses and a slow maturation in oak barrels. $10.99 for a 4-pack of 11.2-ounce bottles. innisandgunn.com
How much would you pay for good cheese?
At the Frome Cheese & Agricultural Show in Somerset, England, Chairman of the Global Cheese Awards Nigel Pooley presented the world’s most expensive cheese tray. If you want this one for your party, it will cost you about £840 ($1,350). Of course, if you add in the solid silver cheese tray (£600 or $965), handcrafted wooden cheese board (£120 or $193) and the solid silver cheese knife (£445 or $715), you will shell out over £2000 or about $3,215.
What cheese challenges the wallet so much?
- A French Brie with truffles that sells for £52 per kilo (or about $42 per pound)
- Vintage Cheddar containing gold leaf from Somerset’s Wyke Farms at £252 per kilo (or about $200 per pound)
- Abbaye de Belloc from the milk of red-nosed Manech ewes with 60% fat content at £44 per kilo (or about $35 per pound)
- Bosworth Goats’ Cheese by Highfields Farm Dairy in Tamworth, Staffordshire, which is as soft as fudge and sells for £8.95 for 200 grams (or about $15 for a little under a half pound)
- The Banon, a Provence cheese of unpasteurized goats’ milk that matures inside brown chestnut leaves, is £7.95 for 100 grams (or about $13 for about a quarter pound)
- Pule, a semi-hard cheese, the world’s most expensive, which is made from a 100-head donkey herd in the Zasavica reserve north of Belgrade, Serbia. It requires 25 liters (6.6 gallons) of milk to produce just 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of cheese. It sells for £800 per kilo (or $643 per pound)
Moscato makes a hit in the spirit world
Moscato is becoming more popular in both the wine world and is used in a variety of spirits. Two examples launched recently:
- Serge Imports introduced a new Exclusiv vodka during Summer 2012. The new Exclusiv Rosé Vodka, made in the Eastern European country of Moldova, blends raspberry-flavored vodka with Moscato rosé wine. The 32% ABV vodka sells for $9.99 and is currently available in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and DC. www.exclusiv-vodka.com
- Vintage Point launched Sip Moscato during Summer 2012. The California moscato, which features grapes fermented in concrete tanks, sells for $14.99. The wine is available in test markets throughout 2012 with a national rollout in early 2013. www.vintagepoint.com
Fire Eater Kentucky whiskey
Brown-Forman introduced its first-ever flavored liqueur for the Early Times whiskey brand. Fire Eater ($14.99-$15.99) blends cinnamon-flavored liqueur and hints of brown sugar with aged Kentucky whiskey. The first sweet taste quickly builds into a hot cinnamon sensation. www.earlytimes.com
New Amsterdam introduces new flavored vodkas
This past summer, New Amsterdam Spirits Company introduced two new flavored vodkas, both available for $14.99 each. New Amsterdam Red Berry blends flavors and aromas of strawberries and raspberries with a hint of brown spice. New Amsterdam Peach presents a full peach taste with a hint of vanilla. www.newamsterdamspirits.com
New Amsterdam Peach Sunrise
2.5 oz New Amsterdam Peach Flavored Vodka
4 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
Shake ingredients together in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice cubes. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with an orange wedge. (Recipe courtesy of New Amsterdam Spirits)
Tuthilltown Spirits introduces new gin
New York-based craft distiller Tuthilltown Spirits recently introduced Half Moon Orchard gin. The 46% ABV spirit sells for $36 (1 liter size). It is made from locally-grown wheat and apples with a bland of bergamot peel, lemon peel, coriander and juniper. Initially available only in New York, there are plans to expand distribution nationwide. www.tuthilltown.com
Ole Smoky Distillery releases new moonshine
The Ole Smoky Distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee released two new moonshine variants this summer. Peach and Blackberry moonshine join the existing White Lightnin’, Cherries, Apple Pie and original moonshine, each 20% ABV, retailing for $20 to $25 in a 750-ml mason jar. www.olesmokymoonshine.com
A SciFi Lovers Wine
Science fiction enthusiast Robb Jacobs created an out-of-this-world wine that is unlike anything else on the market. Vision Wines & Spirits introduced the Abduction wine label. Abduction offers Galactic White from 100% Airén grapes and Cosmic Red
Heineken USA introduces new dark beer
The new beer introduced by Heineken USA, Indio, is a dark beer with international origins. The beer is brewed by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, which has been brewing beer in Mexico since 1893. The 4.1% dark beer targets 21 to 26 year old Hispanic men and currently sells in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. www.heinekenusa.com
Fruit-flavored cocktails for summer
Fruit-flavored cocktails and wine drinks more popular than ever this summer season and companies have created some unique new offerings to the market. Some of the new products include:
- Clever Imports introduced Vine Smoothies ($10.99) made from French Chardonnay, Dutch Cream and natural fruit flavors in four varieties — peach, berry, strawberry and pineapple coconut. www.cleverimports.com
- Il Spr!z was recently introduced by Mionetto USA. The ready-to-drink, 8% abv cocktail blends premium frizzante wine with fresh orange flavorings and select herbs. www.mionettousa.com
- Arbor Mist released a line of frozen cocktails in May 2012. Each single-serve 10-ounce pouch sells for $1.99. Available flavors are White Zinfandel and Blackberry Merlot. www.arbormist.com
- Anheuser-Busch introduced the Bud Light Lime Lime-a-Rita, which is a blend of Bud Light Lime and Margarita flavor. The ready-to-drink cocktails are available for $12.49 for a 12-pack of 8-ounce cans. You will also be able to purchase 24 packs of 12-ounce bottles and single-serve 24-ounce cans. www.budlightlime.com
- Anheuser-Busch also introduced Michelob Ultra Light Cider, a 4% abv gluten free cider. The naturally sweetened cider sells in six packs of 12-ounce bottles. www.michelobultra.com
- North American Breweries released Seagram’s Escapes Frozen Flavors, frozen malt beverages in four varieties: Margarita, Strawberry Daiquiri, Piña Colada and Sangria. The drinks are $1.99 for a 10-ounce pouch or $7.99 for a four-pack. www.seagramsescapes.com
A $94,000 bottle of whiskey
Glenfiddich set the world record for the most expensive bottle of single malt whiskey when it sold at charitable auction in March 2012 for $94,000. The bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, one of only 11 bottles in the world, is a 55-year-old whiskey created to commemorate the 110th birthday of Janet Sheed Roberts, granddaughter of the company’s founder. This is the third bottle of the whiskey to sell, and the most expensive to date. Glenfiddich celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2012. www.glenfiddich.us
New spirits hit the market with bold new flavors
Leaders in the world of liquors have introduced a variety of products recently that boast big, bold flavors. From vodka to bourbon, Cognac to liqueurs, flavors are more developed than ever.
- Luxco just released Pearl Peach, the 12th flavor in its vodka collection. The 35% abv vodka sells for $12.99. It is made with winter wheat, Canadian Rocky Mountain water and the flavor of peaches. www.pearlvodka.com
- Pernod Ricard USA is offering an imitation whipped cream-flavored liqueur to its Hiram Walker line. This 35% abv liqueur sells for $9.99. www.hiramwalker.com
- Bacardi USA has released an ultra-premium Cognac D’ussé, produced by the Chateau de Cognac. It is a VSOP blend of cognacs aged for 4 years in French oak barrels. The 40% abv cognac, which sells for $44.99, launches nationwide in September 2012. www.dusse.com
- Buffalo Trace Distillery near Lexington, Kentucky released Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr. Barrel Proof Bourbon in June 2012. Thsi special release, which sells for $69.99, is a 67.25% abv uncut, unfiltered Bourbon that aged seven years. www.buffalotrace.com
- Maison Lillet recently launched its first new product in 50 years. Lillet Rosé is a French aperitif ($19.99) that combines Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscatel. The wine is then mixed with artisanal liqueurs made from oranges and other fruits, along with Peruvian quinine and some of the company’s own Lillet Rouge product. www.lillet.com
World’s most expensive burger
Serendipity 3, a quirky New York City cafe in Manhattan’s Little Italy known for its outrageous food, unveiled the world’s most expensive burger. Le Burger Extravagant sells for $295.
The burger is made from truffle butter-infused japanese Wagyu beef and then topped with James Montgomery cheddar cheese, black truffles and a fried quail egg. The burger is served on a gold-dusted campagna roll spread with white truffle butter. The roll is topped with a blini, creme fraiche and caviar.
The crowning touch on the burger is a solid gold Fleur de Lis toothpick encrusted with diamonds designed by Euphoria New York. The restaurant is at 225 E. 60th Street in New York City. Call 212.838.3531 for reservations. www.serendipity3.com
New spirits hit the market for summer
Just in time for the summer season, there are several new wines and spirits on the market. Here are a few:
- Pernod Ricard USA recently launched the newest Absolut vodka, the Absolut Cherrykran. The vodka combines flavors of ripe cherry, fresh white cranberry and sweet plum. Absolut Cherrykran is 40% alcohol-by-volume (abv) and a 750-ml bottle is $21. www.absolut.com
- Pernod Ricard USA also released Malibu Sunshine as part of its Malibu rum line. Malibu Sunshine features coconut flavor with a hint of lemon-line citrus. The rum is 21% abv and a 750-ml bottle is $12.99. www.malibu-rum.com
- Earlier this year, Imperial Brands Inc. added Marie Brizard Chocolat Royal to its line of French liqueurs. The dark chocolate liqueur has notes of vanilla and caramel. The 17% abv spirit in a 750-ml bottle is $27.99. www.ibrandsinc.com
- Kobrand Corp. added Alizé Coco to its line of French vodka-based liqueurs. The spirit blends flavors of passion fruit and coconut. The 20% abv liqueur is available in a 750-ml bottle for $19.99. www.alize.com
- 21st Century Spirits added Blue Ice G Vodka to its line of Blue Ice vodkas. The original potato-based Blue Ice vodka and Blue Ice organic wheat are the other two vodkas. Blue Ice G Vodka is made from a blend of high-quality American grain. The 40% abv is $15 for a 750-ml bottle. www.blueicevodka.com
- Underdog Wine & Spirits launched a new line of rums. The Silver rum is 40% abv and the Spiced rum is 35% abv. Both are available for $13.99. www.flipfloprum.com
- Finger Lakes Distilling recently released White Pike Whiskey. The unaged whiskey is made from organic corn, spelt and malted wheat. The 40% abv spirit is available in a 750-ml size for $31.99 to $38.99, depending on the retailer. It is available online at www.drinkupny.com and at select retailers. www.whitepike.com
- Bone Spirits is a new distillery in Smithville, Texas. The company debuted with the launch of a small batch vodka, Smiths Premium. The company plans to release a corn whiskey, moonshine and a London dry gin. The 40% adv vodka is $17.99 – $19.99. www.bonespirits.com
- Greenhook Ginsmiths Distillery released an American dry gin this spring. The gin is distilled with juniper, coriander, chamomile, elderflower, orange blossom, ginger and citrus. The 47% abv is $31.99. www.greenhookgin.com
- Henry Steele Imports recently introduced El Buho mezcal. The company uses a fifth-generation recipe and then copper pot-distills the spirit from 100% mesquite-smoked espadin in Mexico. The 43% abv mezcal is available for $33.99. www.elbuhomezcal.com
- Vision Wine & Spirits added two new wines to its TXT Cellars collection. GR8!!! Cabernet Sauvignon and CYA!!! Shiraz are the two new wines. They join the existing wines in the portfolio: OMG!!! Chardonnay, LOL!!! Riesling, LMAO!!! pinot Grigio and WTF!!! Pinot Noir. Each wine is $7.99 to $9.99. www.txtcellars.com
- Premium Blend Inc. released the vanilla-flavored V’Nilla Noir to complement its existing choco-flavored Choco Noir line. The V’Nilla Noir uses the same recipe as the Choco Noir, but blends red wine with vanilla cream instead of chocolate. The company also offers Choco Noir Chocolate, Choco Noir Raspberry and Choco Noir Espresso. www.premiumblend.com
- Diageo North America released three new flavors in its line of Smirnoff Ice flavored malt beverages. Smirnoff Ice Black is available in Lemon Lime, Watermelon and Fruit Punch. The 8% abv beverages are available in 16-ounce cans ($1.69 each) and 23.5-ounce cans ($2.69 each). www.diageo.com
Fine dining at 30,000 Feet
A new partnership between Lufthansa and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is bringing a new fine dining experience to First and Business Class passengers traveling from the airline’s 17 US gateways to Germany.
The collaboration, part of Lufthansa’s “Star Chefs” program, will feature the food of Executive Sous Chef Annie Hongkham of Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, Executive Chef Toni Robertson of Mandarin Oriental New York, and Chef de Cuisine Joel Huff of Mandarin Oriental Miami. Each chef’s menu will be featured for two months and the food will arrive fresh onboard. The First Class menu will offer five courses while the Business Class menu will feature three courses.
The first featured chef will be Chef Hongkham from Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, blending European techniques and Asian flavors. The menus will be available on Lufthansa flights from January 2012 through February 2013. http://www.mandarinoriental.com
Indulge Wines introduces the “AstraPouch”
Indulge Wines, based in Buellton, Santa Barbara County, California, is offering a 2009 Pinot Noir and a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc in 1.5-liter bags (equivalent to 2 regular-sized bottles). The “AstraPouch” makes the wine easy to transport — perfect for parties. The wine is supposed to keep for 30 days after opening. Currently, the wines are only available in California and sell for $20 for 1.5 liters.
Isabella’s Islay releases the world’s most luxurious whisky
Luxury Beverage Company of the United Kingdom recently launched Isabella’s Islay (www.isabellasislay.com) and touted it as the world’s most luxurious whisky. There are two editions available: The Isabella Original is in a fine English Crystal decanter, covered in the equivalent of nearly 2 bars of white gold, then encrusted with 8500 diamonds, and nearly 300 rubies. The stopper is solid white gold. The whisky is the Very Old Single Malt cask strength Islay whisky. The Isabella Original retails for £3.8 million (about $6.2 million). The Isabella Special Edition sells for £450,000 ($740,000). It is made of crystal and white gold and features diamond lettering and banding around the neck. The whisky in both editions is refillable and insurance is available through Lloyds of London.
Harrods’ much-expanded wine and spirits department
Harrods claims it is taking drinks retailing ‘to a new level’ with the unveiling of its much-expanded wine and spirits department. The new7,000 square foot space will offer more than 3,000 wines, spirits, and beers, with an increased focus on education. Harrods intends to offer tasting events and masterclasses, as well as Champagne and spirits rooms, a new Wine Vault and an expanded selection of ‘eclectic’ products.
Innovations include the Aroma Zone, an interactive area created in partnership with wine accessories retailer Le Nez du Vin and using aroma technology to pinpoint and explain wine’s different flavor components. The Tasting Room will be the venue for tasting events and food and wine paring evenings, while customers can sample up to 18 wines more informally at the Tasting Bar. The finest wines are housed in the Wine Vault, a glass-walled, temperature-controlled room housing a rotating selection of rare and old wines, plus verticals of the most sought-after names. Finally, the Eclectic Selection offers obscure wines from emerging countries such as Slovenia and Japan, and curiosities including Fondillon from Alicante and grapes such as Grignolino and Verdanel.
“We believe that we have created the ultimate destination for customers of all tastes and levels to experience the world of wine and spirits,” Harrods head wine buyer Alistair Viner said. “With the new Wine Shop, our aim is to share our real passion for wine, to demystify, educate and make great wines accessible to all.”