Wine tariff comment period ends today


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Tariffs of 100% may soon hit European wines in America. The price of some wines will double. But mostly it will mean that many of the most coveted wines will no longer be available. The comment period ends today at midnight over at the site of the United States Trade Representative. Fully 24,071 people have submitted comments. Add yours! My take on the situation is that it’s a code red: after “big, beautiful” negotiation with China and a new agreement in North America, the administration is more likely to turn to Europe. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail…Anyway, I made a pie chart! It shows that more American businesses profit from a bottle of European wine than the producer. Overly simple, but trying to make the point that these tariffs are an own goal.

Here are three pieces I wrote on tariffs for Wine & Spirits magazine last month. And here’s …

European wines face a potential 100% tariff


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Another day, another wine tariff post…

Last week, news trickled out that the US Trade Representative might raise the tariff on European wine to 100%. Oh, and the tariff on 31-pages of other items. Unsatisfied with progress in the aircraft dispute with Airbus, which was the cause of the 25% tariff imposed on some European wines on October 18, the USTR has threatened to take it to 100.

I discussed the issue with Blake Murdock of Rare Wine Co, Dixon Brooke of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, and Rocco Lombardo of Wilson Daniels. Each of them is taking a different approach–I filed two stories for Wine & Spirits magazine that you should check out.

If you don’t want European wine prices to double next year in this country, make your comments heard over at regulation.gov. Comments accepted until January 13.

Ugh. How long will they last, if imposed? It’s anybody’s …

Bracing for 100% Champagne tariffs


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Late yesterday, the US Trade Representative unsheathed a champagne saber. But it wasn’t for sabering champagne in celebration; rather, it was for dealing it a blow by threatening tariffs of 100%. French sparkling wine (not still wine) as well as cheese, handbags, makeup and enamelware would be affected. (See the whole list here.)

While that would be very bad news for consumers as well as producers, there is some cause for guarded optimism. This was, after all, saber rattling, not actually putting the tariffs into effect. The core issue here is a “digital tax” that France has imposed on big tech companies, mostly American, doing business in France. France has threatened to retaliate if the tariffs announced yesterday (not the ones from October!–do try to keep up) are imposed so maybe it is all just a bargaining position? And there’s Trump’s relationship with LVMH founder Bernard Arnault,

Wine maps are all the rage


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wine maps atlas“Wine is geography in a glass,” Hugh Johnson said recently. He and Jancis Robinson were in town to promote the new edition of the World Atlas of Wine. He said that back in 1970, the publisher was unsure if a book of wine maps would really fly. So he had to impress upon the publisher how wine and maps were a natural fit. The market shouted a reply: by 1973, the book had sold 500,000 copies. Lifetime, he said, the volume has sold more than 5 million copies.

The book gained a new lease on life when Jancis Robinson became a co-author in the fifth edition. Jancis and her team do the heavy lifting now and this eighth edition has been fully revised. The tome has added new areas of coverage such as the Savoie and the Judean Hills. In all, it has 300,000 words, 230 maps, 400+ pages and …

The Kincade fire is awful


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The Kincade fire has already burned 54,000 acres in Sonoma County, roughly the size of the area also under vine. There have been mandated evacuations of 180,000 residents and the 3,400 first responders have it only 5% contained. Strong winds have blowing sparks and embers huge distances but the winds are moderating. The governor has declared a state of emergency. Power outages have further disrupted many lives in the Bay Area.

It is terrible. Follow Twitter #kincadefire for the latest updates. Fortunately, for all the loss of property, no human lives have been lost. Please post in the comments about places where we can donate to help. Symbolically, buying a bottle of Sonoma wine could help show that we are thinking of them.

And then there are they Getty and Tick fires in Southern California…

Floods, hail, late frosts, and fire have all threatened vineyards around the world in recent …

How did champagne dodge the tariff bullet?


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For those looking to explain the oddities of the recent tariffs on French wine, a clue may have come last week in Texas.

But first, those oddities. It is not really going out on a limb to say that this administration has a haphazard, govern-by-tweet style of policymaking. So it should not be a surprise that there were some head-scratchers in the wines affected by tariffs. since not all of the $2.1 billion of wines that the US imported from France last year were included. Notably omitted from the list was the high-value category of champagne (sparkling wines were all exempted). Cognac and French spirits were not affected, another large, high-value. (And neither were French handbags or fashion–by contrast, cashmere sweaters from Scotland were hit). And wines over 14% alcohol were not affected. And those in “containers” of over two liters. And Italian wines were exempted since Italy …

Questions on French wine tariffs!


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wine tariff
Our post about the 25% tariff that will be imposed on the $.2.5 billion of wines imported from France, Spain and Germany as of October 18 raised some questions. We respond:

Rick: How do you suppose this will affect futures orders that are in place?

Dr. Vino: They will be hit by the 25% levy if they arrive in the US after October 18. This could lead to the smart collector’s money either (A) diverting toward wines already in the US that are available at auction (they have the added bonus of being perhaps more ready to drink) or (B) perhaps the merchant that sold you the future is prepared to hold off on taking delivery until the tariffs are called off. This trade dispute can’t go on forever, right?!

Carol: Since Italian wines are not hit by tariffs, will this be a Prosecco New Year’s Eve?

😛

Trump to slap tariff on French wine


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The trade war gets real! As if tariffs on hundreds of billions of consumer goods made in China weren’t real enough, the latest escalation from the Trump administration has found a new target: French wine.

Late yesterday, word came down that the Trump administration will impose $7.5 billion in tariffs on goods from our European allies. The impetus is subsidies to the plane consortium, Airbus, which is backed by France, Spain, Germany and the UK. Thus the tariffs affect symbolic goods from those countries, including all wine, olive oil, whisky and some camera parts. The long-simmering dispute entered a new phase yesterday as the WTO ruled in favor of the US. Hopefully there will be a negotiated settlement but as announced yesterday, the levy will be imposed on all goods on the list that enter the country as of October 18.

The fourth quarter of the year is by …

Pierre Peters champagne with Rodolphe Peters


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One winery I wanted to be sure to visit when I was in Champagne last month was Pierre Péters. I have always tremendously enjoyed the racy wines in the US and Rodolphe Péters not only commands a lot of respect in the wine world for his Champagnes but I had heard he had a new (sparkling) wine project in California I wanted to learn more about. Despite wanting to find it, I drove right by the winery in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger–there’s no sign and it looked like a construction site.

Rodolphe Péters, who has made the wine since taking over from his father in 2007, met me and apologized for the mess. He said the project was taking longer than expected (which renovation hasn’t?). Rodolphe is a sixth generation farmer and a fourth generation winemaker. The estate is a renowned producer of blanc de blancs Champagne from their 19.98 …

Exciting times for Spanish wine – a story over on SevenFifty


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ricardo perez
Spain makes a lot of wine. Overall, it’s the third biggest producer in the world. One problem the country has is that many of the country’s wines sell at low prices–don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some pricey ones too. Another problem is that as wine enthusiasts and producers around the world rejoice in delving into fiendish detail about vineyards, some of Spain’s region’s can keep an administrative lid on the terroir.

I examine how some producers such as Ricardo Pérez Palacios (above) and Raúl Pérez in Bierzo and Telmo Rodriguez in Rioja are doing to unlock the terroir in their regions. This process not only ties into what’s happening in the larger wine world, it can also serve as a way to raise the price of grapes, land and wine.

These are exciting developments. I sought to capture them in an article at SevenFifty daily, published today. Check …

Three questions with…Evelyne de Pontbriand of Domaine du Closel


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On the sidelines of her NY distributor’s recent tasting, I grabbed a quick three minutes with the supremely lovely Evelyne de Pontbriand. She is the third consecutive woman in her family to run the estate Domaine du Closel located at the Chateau des Vaults in the Loire region of Savennières.

Aging Savennières: underrated or overrated?
I think it is quite underrated. I have a whole collection of old Savennières, unfortunately not older than 50 years old but they are fantastic. I did a big tasting a couple of years ago for the 50th anniversary of the appellation with 50 vintages. it was really very interesting. I think they get another dimension when they age and they are more and more, very interesting food wines.

Botrytis: underrated or overrated?
I think botrytis is…hmm, that’s difficult. I don’t think people really know what it means. I think it might be overrated. Now …

Wine spills onto the docket at the Supreme Court


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On Wednesday, the eyes of wine geeks and those in the wine industry will turn to the the Supreme Court. Wine will be on the docket, and, as you might expect, reds and whites do not map on to a political right and left. A love of wine is non-partisan even though no justice has ever proclaimed “I love wine” during confirmation hearings (only beer gets this kind of admiration!). At stake on Wednesday is whether wine shops can ship across state lines.

The biggest wine case the Supreme Court ever decided was Granholm v Heald in 2005. In their decision, the majority ruled that states could not discriminate between out-of-state wineries and in-state wineries—either they had to open up to shipping from all wineries or close the whole thing down. Fortunately for wine enthusiasts, almost all state chose to open up so consumers across the country now at …

Slinging juice: my side hustle at Parlor Pizza


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My good friend, chef Tim Labant, and I have ridden probably 15,000 miles together on our bikes the past few years. We’ve had some epic adventures. Tim is the chef/owner of Schoolhouse at Cannondale, a new American spot in Wilton that celebrated its eleventh anniversary this past spring. About three years ago, Tim decided he wanted to bring his fine dining skills to a more casual environment. He loves pizza (who doesn’t?), so he started developing his own dough recipe. He went to Pizza Expo in Las Vegas two years in a row, refining his recipe and researching ovens. As the restaurant was developing, he asked me to put together the wine list and I was only too happy to help.

Everything came together about five weeks ago when Parlor opened its doors. Tim’s dough uses two types of Italian (Caputo) flour and has a multiday fermentation and proofing. …

Reboule du Rhone, second edition


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The Reboule du Rhone is back for a second edition! The event last year feted winemakers and wines from the Northern Rhone with dinners and tastings, raising over $300,000 for the charity No Kid Hungry. Above is a quick montage of scenes from last year.

This year’s encore edition will include a series of singular dinners, November 15-17. The first dinner (at a private residence 50 floors up) highlights “legendary” vintages of the last 50 years, the second dinner has a focus on the “kings of Cornas,” and the third is a BYOB extravaganza. For those looking for a more budget-friendly event, it’s hard to outdo the value of walk-around tasting at 1 PM Saturday the 17th. Winemakers and leading sommeliers will pour over 100 wines from the region.

The event is the brainchild of Thomas Pastuszak and Dustin Wilson. Profits go entirely to No Kid Hungry.

List of winemakers …

2017 wine auction market seen through the crystal…wine glass


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Sotheby’s released a glossy report on their 2017 wine auction year today: the house racked up $63.8 million at 21 auctions in London, New York, and Hong Kong. That was good enough for third on the list of 2017 wine auction houses–in all, the global wine auction market rose 12.7% to $381 million last year (WS had a summary piece back in January).

At Sotheby’s, as elsewhere, Burgundy rose and DRC dominated. Last fall, six bottles of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Romanée Conti 1996, fetched $134,750, or $22,458 per bottle. Not too shabby for fermented grape juice! In total, $11.6 million worth of DRC sold at Sotheby’s auctions last year, making it the top wine for the fifth year in a row and more this year than Lafite, Pétrus, and Mouton combined (Bordeaux sales declined to less than 50% of total wines sold, by value). Whisky …

Trump – Macron state dinner wines


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Last night’s state dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte was the first of Donald Trump’s term. Would the current occupant of the White House shatter wine protocols at state dinners? Would the teetotaler whose name adorns a Virginia winery serve his own wine?

The White House has a tradition of serving only American wines at state dinners. This president was not going to put waves in that particular chardonnay glass–MAGA and all that. The menu included a chardonnay and a pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the white from Domaine Serene and the red from Domaine Drouhin. The focus on Oregon is apt since it is an area that has attracted many French winemakers and makes many wines in a Burgundian style. The Drouhin family was the first French family to buy vineyard land in Oregon back in 1987. And perhaps because the White …

China targets US wine in tariff showdown


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American wine has just gotten a dubious distinction: it features on a list of 128 items that may be subject to new Chinese tariffs. (spelling tip: tariffs ends in “FFS”!)

Saber rattling in trade between the US and China is escalating. The Trump administration announced $50 billion in tariffs on Wednesday and China responded yesterday with a more modest $3 billion. Of course, the two sides could be posturing and may come to an agreement before the tariffs hit the fan.

At any rate, wine featured on the list of items that would be hit with a 15% tariff into China. The US exports $79 million of wine to China, which seems like a drop in the Slavonian oak barrel of world trade. (Pretty small beer…) So even though it might sting in California, it is something of a backhanded compliment to US wine that it is seen as …

Reboule du Rhone


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About five years ago, Dustin Wilson became the wine director at Eleven Madison Park and Thomas Pastuszak became the wine director at NoMad. At a similar point in their careers at restaurants in the same group, the two bonded over their many shared interests, one of which was a love of the wines of the Northern Rhone.

Last year, when they were visiting cellars in the region together, they hatched the idea to have a weekend celebration of Northern Rhone wines in New York City. Thus Reboule du Rhone was born with the first weekend of events slated for November 17-19. Pastuszak says that some of the dozen producers invited have never been to New York before. Part of their motivation was to give “the sommelier community a chance to get in front of these heralded producers,” he says.

“We get really excited to serve these wines and drink these …

Helping the wildfire recovery


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wildfire_recovery

The wine country fires caused a lot of damage, that we know. But as the fires come under control and some residents return to their greatly altered lives after mandatory evacuations, we are starting to get a handle on the extent of what happened. Here is a sad list of 22 wineries damaged by the fires in both Sonoma and Napa. And there’s speculation that undocumented immigrant workers, vital to the system of wine making, may not return since they do not qualify for disaster aid and much of the low-cost housing was damaged.

Sadly, there have been reports of price gouging as well as insurance payouts being insufficient to cover some damage. One estimate put the total at $3 – $6 billion.

Clearly, the regions need a lot of help. As wine consumers, the most obvious thing we can do is to buy wine from the affected areas. …

Fires savage Napa and Sonoma


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On Sunday night, a fire got out of control somewhere north of the Bay. Seasonally dry conditions had left the area like a tinderbox. So when whipping winds of up to 70 mph hit the initial flames, they spread, well, like wildfire. Tragically, the blaze has now prompted the evacuation of 20,000 people, burned over 1,500 homes, incinerated 73,000 acres and left 11 people dead.

Santa Rosa in Sonoma has been hit particularly hard. The flames have also jumped to Napa and Mendocino counties.

The NYT has some shocking photos from before and after. SFgate has coverage too–the video with the homes crackling as they burn really pulls on the heart strings. And this video driving down a street after the Tubbs fire is haunting. And these photosEsther Mobley of the SF Chronicle has been tweeting tons of updates.

The vintage 2017 may be tough in many parts …