As we end 2019 and the decade, we are celebrating all of the great bottles we’ve had since 2010. Unfortunately, there is one thing looming over all of these positive memories: the threat of new wine tariffs for 2020.
Earlier this fall, the Trump administration levied a 25% tariff against many European wines, with exceptions for sparkling wines, large format bottles, and wines over 14%, among others. In recent weeks, we have finally begun to see higher costs as we buy these wines from distributors, leaving us concerned.
But new tariff threats promise to impose up to 100% fees on almost all European wines, including sparkling wine and large format bottles. It’s safe to say that tariffs at this level would collapse the American import business, threaten retailers and restaurants alike, and put hardworking winemakers in financial troubles throughout the Europe, given the extent of the American consumer market. There is no way a wine that sold previously for $30 would be able to sell for $60 at retail.
As bad as this sounds, there is something of a silver lining to all of this. It won’t be until January 13, 2020 that the Office of the United States Trade Representative seriously considers the extent of what these new tariffs would be (or if they would implemented at all). This means there is still time to act and submit your comments as to why these tariff regulations will be devastating for the wine industry.
If you go to the regulations.gov website, you’ll enter the Docket USTR-2019-0003, which contains the full text of the proposed tariffs. Here you have the option to comment, along with the 5,000+ individuals who have already had their say. Many of these stories have emphasized the personal impacts that this destructive trade war would have on their personal livelihood and the livelihoods of so many friends.
It is impossible to say at this point what the end result might be, especially an administration as volatile as Trump’s administration has been. But we know that by standing united behind European winemakers, our distributors, and our retail and restaurant colleagues, we can be a positive force that will protect our global wine community for many years to come.
While we wait, there is still an opportunity to support European winemakers. Of course it’s the season for Champagne but if you’re looking for something that isn’t bubbly, we wanted to highlight a few options that are currently priced at $40 and under.
The first option is a white wine from Anders Steen, known for his unusual blends and expressive text-only labels. This option might be the most divisive because of its high toned, almost vinegary acidity that hits you when you first take a sip. But if you give this wine some time, it rewards you mightily. The acidity morphs to a tart lemon quality, with a touch of sweeter orange fruit and lime to balance. We get some tangy apple notes and a mineral grip into the finish as well.
If your tastes tend to veer toward the classic, No Control’s 2018 Gamay is a surefire winner. A deep purple-red in color, this wine is the equivalent of walking through a rocky French vineyard in late spring, rays of sunshine pouring down on you. It’s glorious glou glou with a candied cherry note threaded throughout, balanced by some mysteriously earthy notes and a toothsome, light tannic finish. This is low intervention winemaking at its best.
We are excited by Greece becoming one of the up and coming winemaking regions of Europe, with native grape varietals showcasing the rewards of wines from hotter climate regions. For their Pata Trava, Domaine Ligas provides a compelling vintage that straddles the line between orange and rosé in color and flavor. Beyond being very dry and tannic, the wine features a noticeable tart cranberry quality intermingling with other red fruits. It is medium bodied with spiced notes and a sapid finish, making it a perfect winter sipper.