Cause for Celebration

Two ma­jor ac­qui­si­tions, a port fit for a queen and a new Chi­nese wine hol­i­day make James Suck­ling’s monthly news round-up

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

Buy, Buy, Buy

Pub­licly listed Hong Kong wine mer­chant Madi­son Wine, owned by Ray­mond Ting, an­nounced its plans in April to buy a 45 per cent share of Acker Mer­rall & Con­dit, one of the old­est wine auc­tion houses in the world. The pro­posed ac­qui­si­tion would help en­sure a suf­fi­cient sup­ply of wines and ex­pand dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels.

royal re­lease

Port wine pro­ducer Gra­ham’s has re­leased a spe­cial bot­tle to mark Queen El­iz­a­beth II’S 90th birth­day in April. Gra­ham’s 90 is a unique blend of three leg­endary tawnies— the 1912, 1924 and 1935. The first two are de­clared vin­tages, while the last was not de­clared; rather, it was set aside by the win­ery to hon­our King George V’s sil­ver ju­bilee. This cel­e­bra­tory port is avail­able through Berry Bros & Rudd for £700 a bot­tle.

Break­ing Free

One of the world’s big­gest al­co­holic bev­er­age com­pa­nies, Con­stel­la­tion Brands, bought Napa Val­ley wine brand The Pris­oner in April for US$285 mil­lion, just a year after buy­ing up an­other Napa-based brand, Meiomi—con­sis­tent with its ex­pan­sion strat­egy of ac­quir­ing brands rather than buy­ing up vine­yards and winer­ies. This is the sec­ond sale of The Pris­oner, fol­low­ing the 2010 sale to Huneeus Vint­ners for US$40 mil­lion. The wine was cre­ated by Orin Swift’s Dave Phin­ney in 1998 and be­gan as a Zin­fan­del-based slightly sweet blend with a high al­co­hol con­tent and low tan­nins.

nine-nine Wine

Alibaba aims to boost main­land China sales of Ital­ian wines on its e-com­merce plat­form ten­fold, driv­ing up Italy’s share of bot­tles sold from the cur­rent 6 per cent to 60 per cent, its founder, Jack Ma, said at a joint press con­fer­ence with Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi at this year’s Vini­taly trade show. The push is ex­pected to give a boost to Ital­ian wines in a mar­ket dom­i­nated by French pro­duc­ers. To in­tro­duce more in­ter­na­tional wines to Chi­nese con­sumers, the com­pany also an­nounced the launch of Wine Day on Septem­ber 9; the date was cho­sen be­cause “nine” in Pu­tonghua sounds very sim­i­lar to the word for “wine.” Wine Day is mod­elled on Alibaba’s fa­mous Sin­gles’ Day pro­mo­tion on Novem­ber 11, which has been her­alded as an unofficial hol­i­day in China and brought in a whop­ping US$14.3 bil­lion in on­line sales last year alone.

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