New Wine Tariffs in 2020

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 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.

Anders Steen, Je suis comme ça et alors? (2017)

Anders Steen, Je suis comme ça et alors? (2017)

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.

No Control, Rockaille Billy (2018)

No Control, Rockaille Billy (2018)

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.

Domaine Ligas, Pata Trava (2018)

Domaine Ligas, Pata Trava (2018)

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.

Taking A Vacation With Wine

If you’ve decided to stick around New York City (or wherever you are) for the holidays, it doesn’t mean you still can’t imagine yourself in the European country side, cozied up in a farmhouse with wine from the vineyards. Even if you are thousands of miles away, the great thing about a bottle of wine is that it can transport you exactly to the site of where the grapes were grown, harvested, and bottled.

For this week’s collections of wines, we didn’t necessarily have a theme in mind so much as a spirit of adventure, sending us to Italy, Austria, and Georgia. In these countries we tasted a Ramato wine, which combines the flirty lift of rosé with skin contact bite; a red that brought on the funk but balanced it with vibrant fruit and comforting spices; and an orange wine that had our palettes intrigued for days after opening the bottle.

Château Khashmi, Rkatsiteli (2017)

Château Khashmi, Rkatsiteli (2017)

Château Khashmi is located roughly 20 miles from Tbilisi in Georgia, which has some of the oldest winemaking practices in the world, dating back thousands of years. Rkatsiteli is a native Georgian grape that is known for its high alcohol content and acidity, which is typically offset with some sugar from late harvests.

Khashmi’s Rkatsiteli is a skin contact version that is aged in Qvevri to help regulate the temperature throughout the process. As far as skin contact wines go, this vintage has a classic deep straw colored hew in the glass. On the palette, however, there is a lot of power and mystery present. Spices on the nose give way to a richer palette with generous tannic grip balanced out by lovely acidity and a touch of sweetness from dried fig and apricots notes. Into the mid-palette, vegetal qualities intermix with a welcome sapidity into a long finish.

Overall the wine is quite flavorsome but it also retains its elegance, even four days after opening.

Armonia, G-Ray (2017)

This collaboration between Italian wine industry stalwarts Armonia and Andrea Marchetti is a 100% Pinot Grigio wine done in the Ramato style. Though Ramato wine is not well known in the US, it continues to gain ground worldwide from its origins Friuli, balancing qualities from rosé and skin contact styles into a pleasing end product.

Here we have a pinkish hue in the glass with berries and funky hints on the nose. On the palette, things are quite delicate with dry raspberry notes, apple skins and mildly tannic qualities. However, the wine is not at all crunchy or vegetal as you might expect from a skin contact expression. As things progress, a balanced minerality develops into a finish where the fruits subtly re-emerge.

All in all this is a vintage that will convert those who say they’re not a fan of orange wines. It’s fruity and delicate but also packed with those contemplative notes you’d expect from something with a bit of aging on the skins.

Claus Preisinger, Heideboden Rot (2016)

For our last wine of the week we head to Austria and to Claus Preisinger, for whom you might know better as the Puszta Libre! winemaker. Here, in a structured blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and Merlot, he manages to capture a more serene but no less delicious vision of natural Austrian wine.

On the first pour, you notice a deep purple, which is almost inky in the glass. This is an intensely alive wine, so notes of barnyard funk and wet earth emerge on the nose. The palette is quite exciting with juicy black currant and a tinge of sweet cherry mixing with a licorice kick. As the wine builds, a warming and woodsy spice builds, providing a more comforting and settled quality to an otherwise lively tasting.

Overall this is lean and balanced but it also possesses a nice structural weight. We’d recommend enjoying it the day of and not waiting until a second day when the mousy notes start to become much more noticeable.

Winter Wines You’ll Love

In recent weeks, we received our first snowfall in New York. Though much of it didn’t stick, it finally started to feel like winter is here until at least April. These seasonal changes have us thinking about what to drink next.

It might be easy to bust out a hefty Syrah from France or a cellared Barolo vintage. These choices are all perfectly fine but we also think there is something to be said about drinking lighter wines without sacrificing that complexity that winter sipping demands. These are wines that are good for any season but their brightness is welcome shift in perspective from the grey exterior. It’s like biting into that first Sumo orange of the season and immediately lighting up.

Which brings us to three new wines for this week: a peachy skin contact wine from Italy; a precise and lifted red from California; and a liter of rosé from Italy that is a great exercise in terroir.

Franco Terpin, Quinto Quarto Bianco

Franco Terpin, Quinto Quarto Bianco

Franco Terpin is a master of skin contact wines from Italy. Many of his other vintages fetch premium prices over $40 a bottle but his Quinto Quarto Bianco is his youthful expression of his winemaking that always sells for under $30 a bottle in a colorful, inviting bottle.

In the glass, the wine is a deep, cloudy yellow in color. (The bottle itself features thick sediment so be careful when pouring to avoid any large bits of sediment!) On the nose, you are immediately transported to late summer by soft apricot and peach notes. These flavors carry over into the first sips that blend with a prickly orange acidity.

As expected with a skin contact wine, the Quinto Quarto Bianco is medium bodied but the shift between fruit into the more weighty, savory vegetal notes is seamless and a big part of its charm. The crunchier tannic qualities grip to your mid palette but there remains a delicate finesse as the wine finishes, with stone fruit notes reemerging to soften things up just the right amount.

Martha Stoumen, Mendocino Nero D’Avola (2017)

Martha Stoumen, Mendocino Nero D'Avola (2017)

Martha Stoumen is one of the female pioneers of low-intervention winemaking. Using the Italian grape Nero D’Avola, which she believes has been around California for several decades, Stoumen is able to bring a slice of the Mediterranean to your glass in her signature precise style.

In the glass, it is an inky purple with the nose screaming forest floor and dark fruit in an intoxicating blend. If you’re put off by jammier flavors, the initial intensity of this fruit can be hard to swallow, but the dried blackberry and plum notes soon settle harmoniously into a vibrant acidity and dusty tannic structure. The wine is as clean and precise as any we have had this year so if you are having a dinner party for a natural wine skeptic, this might be a good choice for the table.

Martha shows us that the hotter climates of interior California can yield something beyond the classic West Coast Cabernet we all know too well.

Valentina Passalacqua, Calcarius Rosa (2018)

Valentina Passalacqua, Calcarius Rosa (2018)

Valentina Passalacqua’s Calcarius project is focused on kimmeridgian limestone soils of her childhood town, Arpicena, in Italy. Most of these wines are high yield (tens of thousands of liter bottles per varietal) that generally sell for $30 and under. As Valentina has spent more time in New York City, we have been excited to see more of her wines picked up by distributors.

For her rosé, she uses the Negroamaro grape to thrilling effect. In the glass, you might mistake this wine for skin contact but it’s far from that, being the lightest of the wines we tasted this week. We get whiffs of funk and jammy fruit on the nose that echo the Stoumen. However, when we taste the wine the palette is much brighter and drier, with ripe raspberry, chalky strawberry, and piquant cherry notes sharing the stage. Though there isn’t really a tannic structure to speak of, it does gain textural grip through green herbal characteristics that build into a breezy finish.

If there was ever a wine that could take us back to a sundowner on a Mediterranean balcony, it would be this one.

enter your email below to sign up for our newsletter