The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2015

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16  /  the tasting panel  / march 2015 Brief Encounters Whether THE TASTING PANEL goes to the brand execs or the brands call us, there is an abun- dance of news to report, from the latest releases to behind-the-scenes experiences with some of the world's most influential importers, winemakers, distillers . . . well, you name it. We may not have enough pages in each issue to devote as much attention as we would like to each person whose path we cross, but please note that if it's in the publication, we deem it noteworthy. —Meridith May, Publisher & Editorial Director THE MESSAGE 16  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2015 Riunite-d and It Feels So Good W hat comes to mind when you think back to the '70s and '80s? Considering you were around during those years (shout out to all of our "younger" readers!), you'll easily remember The Bee Gees or new episodes of Miami Vice, but if you think a little deeper, a certain brand of Italian wine's infectious ad campaign may come to mind: Does "Riunite on ice, that's nice" sound familiar? We thought so—and Riunite is still here! Last month, Banfi Vintners—the sole U.S. importer of the Mariani fam- ily's renowned wine estates in Italy—hosted an exclusive event at Ocean Prime Beverly Hills to generate buzz and excitement within the Southern Wine & Spirits sales team for the new label launch of Riunite Lambrusco. From 1973 to 1985, the brand held the top seller position in the U.S. among wine imports, and this success allowed the Mariani family to expand and to open Castello Banfi, one of the largest wineries in Tuscany. Today, more than 165 million cases of Riunite have been sold and the brand remains the number-one-selling Italian wine in the United States. Riunite is undeniably a very important part of the Banfi portfolio, and the event at Ocean Prime celebrated this massive success and its new label with fantastic food and, of course, many glasses of wine. Riunite and it feels so good! —Brian Kustera Stars in Our Eyes, Bourbon in Our Glass T he sun was indeed set but the glamour was high as we strolled up to the front steps of the luxurious Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood, CA for an evening that would light up the night with more stars than the L.A. sky could ever dream. At a private reception on February 12, 2015, the Marquis's Morrison Hotel Gallery unveiled a rare and never-before-seen photo collection of intimate moments with famous Hollywood stars. The collection, by famed photojournalist John R. Hamilton, is an assortment of candid and raw images showcasing Hamilton's private access to the greatest movie stars, musicians and directors of all time. Beautiful celebrity portraits adorn the gallery, subjects include James Taylor, Johnny Cash, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Gere and none other than The Duke himself, John Wayne. His son, Ethan Wayne uncovered the images and was in attendance for their inaugu- ral debut, calling the night "a great honor to be a part of." Along with the astonishing gallery, guests were treated to delicious Duke Bourbon cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Co-founders of Duke Bourbon, Ethan Wayne and Chris Radomski, were on hand to answer questions on their up- and-coming brand (check out the April 2014 issue of THE TASTING PANEL for the full story!) and were seen laughing and enjoying this special event all evening long. As the night came to a close, the Sunset Marquis was left elegantly glowing, lit up by a room full of stars. —B. K. Jonathan Mitchell (right), Wine Director at Ocean Prime, and James W. Mariani, co-CEO of Banfi Vintners, at Ocean Prime in Beverly Hills for the new label launch of Riunite Lambrusco from Banfi Vintners. Patrick Wayne, American actor and second son of John Wayne; Chris Radomski, co-owner of Duke Bourbon; and Ethan Wayne, son of John Wayne and co-owner of Duke Bourbon, were proudly in attendance at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood, CA for the "Hollywood Cool: The John R. Hamilton Archive" private reception. PHOTO COURTESY OF BANFI VINTNERS PHOTO: ADAM JAMES

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