Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Moscato gets a skinny makeover

Kanye West has helped Moscato sales soar in the US

Moscato madness continues to grip this US. This week, Wine and the City learnt that Skinnygirl, the low-calorie wine and pre-mix cocktail brand founded by Twiglet-thin reality TV star Bethenny Frankel of The Real Housewives of New York City, has added a Moscato to its line-up.
The brand, bought by spirits giant Beam for $8m in March 2011, has added the low alcohol, lightly sparkling sweet wine to its range in a bid to capitalise on the growing thirst for the variety in the US. Skinnygirl Moscato is said to boast notes of “pear, peach and mango,” along with aromas of “tropical fruit and honey.”
Skinnygirl Moscato 2012
The wines in the Skinnygirl range have only 100 calories per 5oz glass compared to an average of 123 calories found in non-diet wines. Skinnygirl wastes no time in making mention of its low-calorie status, with the Moscato 2012 flagging it up the front label. Along with the Moscato, three new cocktails have been added to Skinnygirl premix range: a mojito, grapefruit margarita and a white cherry vodka, priced at $14.99/bottle for the mojito and margarita and $21.99 for the vodka.
Skinnygirl is one of the fastest-growing drinks brands on the market. Sales at the company were up 19% last year as the trend for low-calorie wines gathered momentum in the US. Last March, the brand expanded from pre-mix cocktails into wine, adding three low-calorie California wines – a Syrah blend, a Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend and a Grenache/Syrah rosé blend to its portfolio.
Last year, Moscato sales in the US hit a record high, up 33% in volume on 2011 with the variety now accounting for 6% of wines bought in US retailers, where it is now more popular than Sauvignon Blanc and only slightly behind Pinot Grigio. Moscato’s profile has been boosted by name checks from RnB and hip-hop stars such as Kanye West, Ne-Yo, Lil’ Kim, Ab-Soul and Drake.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Whiskey and Gin cologne anyone?

Ever fancied smelling like your favourite tipple? Well now you can, as news hits Wine and the City that a start-up online fragrance company funded by Kickstarter has launched a range of 20 scents including “whiskey” and “gin” cologne and “Pinot” perfume.
The line-up features 10 colognes for men and 10 perfumes for women based on “comforting scents people associate with enjoyable moments in their daily lives”, with the male fragrances including whiskey, gin, oak, book and moss, while Pinot, tea, paper, wool and dew feature among the fragrances for women.
Founded by US-based Yo Santosa and Owen Gee, Commodity aims to make consumers rethink their approach to scent by giving them the opportunity try samples of scents matched to their personal tastes at home before they commit to buying a larger bottle. The company’s ethos is that perfumes and colognes should work with a person’s natural scent rather than overpowering it.
The female fragrances include Pinot and Tea
“The fragrance market is saturated with shirtless male models and lofty slogans. We wanted to create something modern and accessible. The choices are overwhelming and the in-store experience is confusing. After trying a few fragrances our nose gets tired and can no longer distinguish what we’re smelling, it’s a guessing game,” Santosa told design website
The US-based online company gets customers to fill in a scent profile and uses the answers to send five samples in the range best suited to their tastes. Customers then choose their favourite of the five, and a 100ml bottle of eau de parfum or three pocket-sized 30ml roller-ball bottles are posted to them.
Commodity raised its Kickstarter funding goal on 4 April, rounding up 740 backers who between them raised an impressive $56,602 to help get the start up off the ground. The company teamed up with a Parisian perfume house to develop the scents, which are made in US. A 30ml bottle of scent costs $50.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Third wine for Château Margaux

Châteaux Margaux is to release a third wine onto the market this year. As reported on, Margaux de Château Margaux 2009 is made from wine that didn’t make it into the estate’s second label, Pavillon Rouge. According to Margaux’s managing director Paul Pontallier, around 3,000 cases of the wine were made, with the majority coming onto the market this autumn rather than being sold en primeur. A price for the wine has yet to be decided.

Margaux de Château Margaux was created due to the favourable conditions of the 2009 vintage, which meant that the wine that didn’t make it into Pavillon Rouge was of such a high standard it merited its own bottling. Previously, the wine had been declassified and used for generic AOC Margaux. The addition of Margaux de Château Margaux to the Margaux portfolio means the estate now produces four wines, taking the AOC Margaux into account.

Like father like son: Paul and Thibault Pontallier
As for the 2012 vintage, Pontallier told me during a tasting at the château last week that the key to a successful 2012 en primeur campaign would be finding the right price point for the grand vin. “The global market is more open than it’s ever been but we need to come out at the right price point and listen to what the market wants,” he said.

Proving that it does listen to the market, last year Margaux came out at €360 a bottle for its 2011 vintage, down 40% on the €600 release price of 2010. Composed of 87% Cabernet, Pontallier describes Margaux 2012 as sharing the concentration of 2009 and superior in quality to 2011 due to its better tannic structure, freshness and softness. Pontallier believes that while 2012 Margaux is drinking well early, it is “built for the next 50 years.”

While he was pleased with the quality of Margaux’s top wine, quality was by no means uniform across the board, with more AOC Margaux made in 2012 than any previous vintage. “For us the vintage was very heterogeneous, with different levels of quality and style. For our best terroirs, it was an outstanding vintage for Cabernet, but it didn’t ripen well in the lesser terroirs in the region,” he said.