Ask Sid: What about US Tariffs on European Wines?

January 8th, 2020
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Question: What is this concern about surcharges on imported European wine all about?

Answer: Yes there is a big concern brewing about the imposition of increased tariffs on imported wines (as well as cheese, olive oil and other items) coming from the European Union. There was a 25% levy applied in October 2019 but only affecting those from France, Germany, Spain & United Kingdom (not Italy) but being exempt if over 14 degrees alcohol or over 2 liters in size.  Most of this increase so far has been absorbed by importers and distributors rather than resulting in a significant price raise for the consumer. However, in mid-December a very much expanded list with the potential for a 100% tariff was announced as being under consideration. This definitely would have a big impact now including Champagne plus all European wines coming to America. This has resulted in wide spread worry and developing opposition throughout the wine industry. Lots of detailed articles appearing recently in Wine Spectator, NY Times, Vinepair.com and similar publications. We are all closely watching to see whether or not this onerous tariff will be implemented. If it is there likely will be a disappearance of your favourite European wines from the local wine shop in your State. Will also affect Canada and other regions in the world on a demand/supply basis. Liquor Boards in Canada and other countries import directly from Europe so there prices should not be affected and may become even more competitive. However their list of wine choices from Europe is really quite limited. Many high end wine buyers and wine clubs (like IWFS, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the like) legally import older vintages that are presently available in the USA so they should be greatly affected. Perhaps it could result in regions outside USA seeing more of these European wine treasures being available and providing an opportunity to import more product directly from Europe. Where ever you live be sure to monitor developments of this situation closely as it may affect your future wine purchases more than you think.


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Does Montrachet Still Merit The Top Rung on the Hierarchy of White Burgundy?

January 6th, 2020

Over the years the wines of Montrachet have been considered the best and generally are the most expensive of all white Burgundy. It is certainly exclusive with 8 hectares producing only about 3,410 cases per year – or less in frost damaged ones like 2016. Roughly half is in Puligny & half in Chassagne where it is often called “Le Montrachet” – though Bouchard Pere has their vineyard signpost in Puligny marked “Le Montrachet”. There are 17 owners led by Marquis de Laguiche (2.06 hectares) marketed by Joseph Drouhin and Baron Thenard (1.83) marketed by Remoissenet. It is one of the 5 Grand Cru Montrachet-designated vineyards together with Chevalier, Batard, Bienvenue-Batard, and Criots-Batard. The reputation of Montrachet is for the intense rich full character of Batard combined with the elegance of Chevalier into something really special much more concentrated, complex, and age worthy. Certainly that outstanding quality has shown up in many spectacular bottles experienced by your scribe over the years including several Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (especially the legendary 1973 and youthful 2010) and a Balthazar (12 litre/16 bottle format) of Ramonet 1986 at a dinner of pan seared lobster with fresh white truffles in Miami on November 2, 1997. Those amazing terroir aromatics plus balanced power and finesse with a touch of spice were so memorable. However this century have often found Montrachet to be a little too heavy for my delicate palate. I have been collecting and enjoying to drink more of the reasonably priced “lighter” elegant mineral (what causes that?) focused wines of Chevalier, Meursault Perrieres, Corton-Charlemagne, and Grand Cru Chablis – especially Les Clos! Not sure climate change plus the current style trend for white wine appreciation is helping the Montrachet old benchmark. Sorry – just raising the question? A lot of these thoughts came back to me at a dinner-tasting last week featuring six interesting Montrachet wines:

2006 REMOISSENET BARON THENARD: Darkest of first flight. Mature bouquet showing some oak with full textures. A touch coarser and ready for drinking. Heavy.

2004 JOSEPH DROUHIN MARQUIS DE LAGUICHE: Youngest youthful colour. Toasty but lovely fragrant complex nose. Big rich concentrated balanced flavours impress.

2000 OLIVIER LEFLAIVE: Deep yellow look. Tad musty cellar notes with bold spices. Structured but this bottle not clean enough. Disappoints.

1988 LOUIS LATOUR 13.4: Lighter fresher style of these 3 vintages. More towards Chevalier elegance. Improved in the glass and opened up nicely. Delicious.

1986 LOUIS LATOUR 13.2: Looks vibrant and deep. Perfect rich creamy intensity. Like the style with no botrytis here but sometimes appears in 1986. Very textbook.

1985 LOUIS LATOUR 13.6: All were decanted and then poured immediately. The hazy tartaric crystals thrown had been allowed to settle to the punt with the bottles standing up for a few days resulting in very clear bright pours. Note the admirable lower alcohols here compared with the now more commonly seen 14+ range. Unfortunately this riper year is a little too mature with sherry elements. Still very rich and so Montrachet for the ris de veau course. Fond memories of our long debates at the IWFS Wines Committee meetings that included both Clive Coates & John Avery on the long aging abilities of 1986 vs. 1985 white Burgundy. 1986 won here. Other times 1985 has been better. 1985 was an excellent red Burgundy vintage (while 1986 was not) but both years made fine whites.

Not too shabby a Vosne-Romanee red wine flight either of all 1995 including the mystery wine of Richebourg from Domaine Gros. Surprised that the RSV was quite a bit darker shades of red depth than RC but the latter has the much more sensational profile for sure but still needs more time to reach that top plateau.

Your thoughts please on the style of white Burgundy that you enjoy the most.


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Top 10 Ask Sid questions of 2019!

January 1st, 2020
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There were some fun food questions raised during 2019 but most were focused on wine which filled all Top 10 positions. Two were pure facts like #2 “SCOTUS decision regarding alcohol deregulation” & #6 “State producing the most wine” but the remaining eight were subjective opinions given by your scribe mainly about rating vintages including your #1 “Best and worst years this decade for Burgundy.” It has been both a delight and a challenge to consider your questions raised and pondering over the answers. Hope by following these postings you have picked up a few gems of wine & food knowledge along the way. Keep up your good work with the interesting questions!



1. Best & Worst Years this Decade for Burgundy?
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2. US Supreme Court Recent Decision on Alcohol Regulation?
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3. Best wine made in Spain?
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4. Where to visit for best wine experience?
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5. Ask Sid: Best vintages to buy for Champagne, White Burgundy & Red Burgundy?
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6. USA State producing the most wine?
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7. What is the Best Winery of a Celebrity?
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8. Do you prefer Syrah or Shiraz?
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9. best one or two vintages in the last 6 decades for Red Burgundy?
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10. Vintages ending in 9?
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Top 10 Posts of 2019!

December 31st, 2019

Always interesting for your scribe to see which of my 52 Monday postings on your IWFS Blog makes the Top Ten of the Year. Top postings for 2018 were pretty focused on wine with a write-up on a fantastic Paulee of many white Chassagne-Montrachets hitting #1. However the remainder of the Top 5 last year were all Bordeaux intensive including separate 20 year verticals of both the Right & Left Bank from the 1998 vintage. This year the interest seems to be firmly on wine & food destinations. Though again Bordeaux with their current release of 2016 wines proved topical coming in at # 4, the Top 3 of 2019 supports a desire to learn more about Las Vegas, Bologna, and Portugal – especially dining. The IWFS member does like to travel and is keen on getting insights and recommendations on interesting experiences. Will have to keep this result in mind for 2020. Also it emphasizes a growing interest for member’s to comment on these Blogs and to post their own tips on wine, food, local restaurants, & ideas from their own touring. My personal Top 10 would have included “Perfect 100 Point Wine Scores Should Be Taken With A Grain of Salt”, “Barbaresco: An Exquisite Wine Region”, and  “Chateau Haut-Brion Remarkable Proven At Two Verticals”. Thanks for all your support. Happy New Year and welcome to the decade of the twenties!   



1. Three Dining Recommendations for Las Vegas
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2. Bologna: Underrated Food Adventures
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3. Portugal Increasing Top Table Wines Available in the Export Market
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4. BORDEAUX 2016 RELEASE
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5. Many Valuable Insights Learned At 41st Vancouver International Wine Festival
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6. NAPA VALLEY CULTIVATING EXCELLENCE ESPECIALLY WITH CABERNET SAUVIGNON
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7. Top older Bordeaux vintages relative bargains drinking well at maturity
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8. Fifth Growth Pauillacs Still Solid Relative Bargains
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9. Top California Chardonnay Impress
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10. Robert M Parker Delightful in Baltimore!
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Ask Sid: Why Are Cranberries Served With Turkey?

December 24th, 2019
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Question: Why are cranberries popular to be served with the turkey?

Answer: Partly historic tradition going back beyond the US Civil War when cranberries were served with turkey for the Thanksgiving dinner for the soldiers. Now it a combination of factors including the splash of eye-catching red colour on the plate and the refreshing contrast of tart cranberries (or some sugar sweet relishes) with the heavier meat, stuffing & gravy of the turkey.


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