As this space noted earlier, voters in Colorado will face the question whether to allow grocery stores to sell wine, spirits and full-strength beer.
Since that posting, a new consideration has arose.
Kroger Co., the country’s largest supermarket chain and owner of the eponymous Kroger grocery stores as well as King Soopers, City Market and others, has “proposed a plan that would let a private distributor oversee how much prominence brands get in stores,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Plus, the WSJ goes on, the alcohol companies will be asked to pay for the distributor to find shelf space. (The original article is behind the WSJ paywall but you can read a summary here in an article from Money magazine).
In other words, pay for exposure.
Already this sounds like bad news for locavores supporting small-batch producers.
Not every small winery, brewer or distiller will notice the change. Many of them are too small to use state or national distributors and many of them sell most of their product through the front door.
But for those who depend on a distributor, or simply rely on the willingness of a retailer to find room on a shelf, the Kroger proposal is bad news.
Finding a place to sell small-batch wine, beer and spirits already is tough; just ask the winemakers, distillers and brewers who make weekly rounds of stores, making sure they haven’t lost shelf space to large distributors also trying to find space for their products.
Competing for premium shelf space just got harder, as writer W. Blake Grey assets here, against national distributors who can pay for better positioning.
At 87, most people might be ready to slow down.
Guess we already know blues guitar legend B.B. King isn’t what you might consider “most people”.
In a life filled with accolades, including 15 Grammys, membership in both the the Blues Hall of Fame (1980, first year inductee) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2006), millions of fan and countless hours of performing, King likely has accomplished what few musicians have accomplished.
Now, maybe to show us he’s not strictly one-dimensional and knows a bit about a whole lot in addition to music, the “King of Blues” is launching his own line of wines.
King is collaborating with Connecticut-based Votto Vines Importing to release a new line of B.B. King signature wines.
So far the list contains only a red and white, but even the King had to start playing by the scales.
The wines rolled out this week in Memphis (where else?) and Nashville and soon will be found in B.B. King’s Blues Clubs and in retail stores, wine bars and music clubs throughout the country, according to a release from Votto Vines.
Although Votto Vines is best known for its in-depth knowledge and handling of wines from boutique wineries worldwide and for its role in importing and promoting Italian wines (the company is the sole U.S. importer for Order Sons of Italy), the B.B. King wines are sourced from the Bodega Santa Cruz Winery in Almansa, Spain.
Almansa is a D.O. region in the southeast part of Castilla-La Mancha (think Don Quixote) in southeast Spain. The region is known for its Garnacha Tintorera –based wines, which are different from the Garnacha-Grenache wines. Almansa has nearly 1.7 million acres of vines, some of the most extensive vineyards in Europe.
The B.B. King Signature Collection Red 2010 is a Crianza blend made from Garnacha, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon while the B.B. King Signature Collection White 2011 is comprised of 100% Verdejo grapes.
Both are listed at $13.99.
The red blend is aged 12 months in French and American oak and has earthy notes with red and dark fruits, soft tannins and some unexpected elegance in a wine with enough backbone to stand up to some Memphis barbecue.
The Verdejo, a perfect spring-time wine, is pale straw-yellow with notes of citrus and tropical fruits and a touch of Verdejo’s characteristic minerality on the finish.
B.B.King’s wines may be a cure for the blues.