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Actress Gabrielle Union is a Margarita Fan; Hip-Hop Star Drake is Breaking Into Whiskey; Plus Other News & Notes

Today, Monday, February 22, 2016 is National Margarita Day. Not a bad way to start the week, aye? Actress Gabrielle Union will be celebrating with the launch of the Lime-A-Rita Fiesta Ready campaign, which seeks to bring to life “the margarita moment,” if you will—the fun, colorful and social mood shift that happens when people drink the classic. Lime-A-Rita will officially kick it off with a pop-up fiesta at Grand Central Terminal in NYC with the actress, so if you’re in the area, stop by.

In addition to enjoying an array of samples from the robust Lime-A-Rita portfolio, consumers will also have a chance to participate in a fully immersive Lime-A-Rita atmosphere, which will include a series of social media and experiential activations, including a ball pit for grown-ups.

…And More Headlines

Move Over Jay-Z, Drake’s Got Whiskey Covered

Rapper Drake has announced via Instagram a whiskey project he’s affiliated with called Virginia Black. An image of a stylish logo popped up, along with the tagline, “After that legendary moment what else is there to do but celebrate with class. Virginia Black coming soon…”

Drake is hardly the first rapper to venture into spirits: Puff Daddy is involved with CÎROC Vodka and owns DeLeón Tequila, Jay-Z owns Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Champagne, and Ludacris launched his Cognac brand Conjure in 2009. And last year Snoop Dogg backed Cuca Fresca—a premium Brazilian cachaça.

Speaking of Whisky…

Whisky Live, the annual tasting event, touches down in New York City at Chelsea Piers (Pier 60) on February 24 as part of a worldwide tour.

The event presents 300 of the world’s best whiskies side-by-side for guests to enjoy, along with the stories behind them as told by master distillers, brand ambassadors and industry experts.

Titan brands like Beam, Heaven Hill, Ardbeg and Yamazaki, will be featured, alongside dozens of boutique spirits, including Balcones, High West, Usquaebach and New York’s own Tuthilltown Spirits.

The city’s top whisky bars’ bartenders will be on hand mixing up signature cocktails and sharing their private label stock. Master distillers and global brand ambassadors from around the world will also be in attendance, pouring their products and meeting fans.

All guests receive unlimited tastings, a lavish dinner buffet, live entertainment, a souvenir Glencairn tasting glass to keep, and an event program.

From One Tasting to Another… You Can Finally Visit One of the Greatest Sweet Wine Producers in the WorldLink:

Château d’Yquem, long closed to visitors, has just announced a major change in policy. Visitors will soon be able to visit on one of three tours taking place daily, seven days a week. From Monday–Friday these will run at 9.30am, 2pm and 4pm. On weekends tours will be at 10.30am, 2pm and 4pm. The guided tour lasts 90 minutes and includes a tasting of one vintage of Château d’Yquem, and one of its ‘Y’ dry white wines. Each tour will welcome no more than a dozen guests, who will pay €60 each. All visits must be reserved in advance. But it’s worth it.

Meanwhile, In the Trade…

Southern Rhône Has a New Cru

On Wednesday, February 10, the Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne appellation was officially recognized by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) as an appellation communale—an appellation defined only by the name of its village or commune. The most recent village to receive Cru status was Rasteau for their still reds in 2010.

Cairanne lies within the Rhône Valley area, 25 miles north of Avignon and 10 miles north of Orange, in the heart of Haut Vaucluse. It has a production area of 2,362 acres and produced 303,642 cases of wine in 2013.

Since 1953, when Cairanne was first entitled to add its name to Côtes du Rhône, this appellation has shown tremendous energy and drive. In 2008, the winegrowers of the region submitted an application to the INAO requesting the promotion to Appellation Cairanne status. This week, the Comité National handed the file over to the French authorities for approval before passing it on to the European Commission.

“For us, promotion to Cru status is an acknowledgement of the huge improvements we have made to the quality of both our white and red wines,” says Denis Alary, President of the Syndicat des Vignerons de Cairanne, an association comprising 37 winegrowers in private wineries and 3 cooperative wineries.

Also New? A Top Chinese Wine Region’s Classification System

Drinks Business reports that Ningxia, considered China’s answer to Bordeaux, will introduce a new system for regulating quality wine production next month. Five growths will be delineated, as in Bordeaux.

The classifications will be reviewed every two years, allowing for changes. But once designated a First Growth, a winery will only be re-evaluated every 10 years. All wineries registered in Ningxia’s Helan Mountain East can participate in this classification.

Those wineries must fulfill 10 qualifying conditions before they can be classified, such as cellar management, yield parameters and branding, to name a few.