What, No Thunderbird?An 1846 bottle of Chateau...

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

What, No Thunderbird?

An 1846 bottle of Chateau Lafite, which some experts consider to be the first estate-bottled vintage for the historic Bordeaux winery, will go on the block at the Bel Age Hotel in Los Angeles next Saturday, one of 1,200 lots of vinous rarities to be offered by Christie’s Wine.

Among the other curiosities is a run of rare vintages of Mouton Rothschild--1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1954 and 1956--drawn from what Christie’s identified as “a prominent Midwestern collection.” There will also be a jeroboam (3 liters) of the winery’s 1975 vintage clad in a label signed by the man who designed it, the late Andy Warhol. There’s a California connection, too--"a vast array of classic California Cabernets, including a comprehensive range of vintages from the famed Heitz Martha’s Vineyard.”

Catalogues are available from Christie’s Publications in Long Island City, N.Y., for $23 prepaid.


Hey, Dude, Like, New Beers!

Marketers have long valued Southland surfers as trend-setters when it comes to selling suds. Witness the success a few years back of imported Corona beer. So the folks who distribute beer at Southern Wine & Spirits figure that they just might ride a similar crest by offering special “beach beers” made in the U.S.A.

A trio of brightly labeled new brews will be distributed today to Southern’s retailers in coastal communities.

Each beer, named for a distinctive Southland beach, has its own custom-brewed taste, says Southern’s beer manager, Tom Muro. There’s, uh, Zuma Light and Trestles Lager and--what else?-- Rincon Dry , named for popular surfing spots in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.

There’s also a beach connection, of sorts, to the contract brewer, Zele Brewing Co.: The Canadian firm, which produces its Zuma, Trestles and Rincon varieties in a defunct brewery that it recently acquired and activated in, of all places, Iowa, is headquartered on the Atlantic.

Denver Beats Us in Brew Bowl

Southern California may have beers named for its beaches, but how much brew is actually made here? According to a list of “gee whiz” statistics put out by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the region leads the United States in beer production.

On closer inspection, however, the fact turns out to be a little, well, frothy. Since at least last year, the title of beer capital belongs to the Denver region, reports Jerry Steinman, publisher of Beer Marketer’s Insights, a trade publication. (The L.A. chamber had relied on figures released a couple years ago by the Beer Institute, an industry group.)

Colorado vaulted to first place with the efforts of a Coors brewery in Golden and a newer Anheuser-Busch brewery in Boulder. Leading Los Angeles-area brewers are Anheuser-Busch in Van Nuys and Miller in Irwindale. Stroh, struggling in a fiercely competitive market, recently shut down its Van Nuys operation.