Look at homegrown products to avoid tariff woes on imports

January 20, 2020

Let’s start with a little housekeeping. I was notified by Emma Mrkonic of Gregory Wine that Bordeaux Women Winemakers will appear in New York March 2-8. To date, 65 outlets are participating. Those interested in sampling Bordeaux poured from 3L bottles may wish to contact Emma by email for particulars:

It appears that we are proceeding with countervailing tariffs vs. Euroland. And it’s about time. Don’t be confused over whether tariffs are good or bad arguments. Many Euroland countries have been slamming America for years, with taxes or tariffs or fees or other restrictions on vino, likker, queso and auto tariffs, while flooding the U.S. with subsidized food, autos, steel and aluminum. By the way, so have many of our other trading enemies. A partner is someone that joins you in a fair deal. The current kerfuffle is over new taxes on U.S. internet service providers that our “buddies,” the French government, recently levied. In some cases they are labeled fees, import taxes, VAT, etc. The French are particularly creative; look up TARIC, import duties. France kicked this off in 2017 with higher tariffs on about 20,000 products, and those on fruit, produce and wine produced in the U.S. were particularly onerous. All that said, I think tariffs are not good trade tools. However, free trade only works when both sides abide by the same tariff rules. You will likely hear Smoot-Hawley referred to. Before being taken in by scribblers who most likely failed algebra, let alone the advanced math needed to evaluate a global economy, be aware by reading the following in your spare time: and These are just two opinions. Here’s a counterargument: I’m not endorsing any side of this discussion, since calculus did me in. It’s written as a lead-in into today’s wine recommendations, and a slightly different format. I will list several award-winning wines from countries not being slammed by tariffs, “the good stuff,” with only fingernail comments of those I have sampled. When hundreds rate wine and come to consensus, I’m normally in that mix. 

Following are some Sauvignon Blancs to replace those pricey Loire Valley French wines. Margerum 2018 Sybarite shows pear, lemon rind and white-flower aromas, citrus and Asian pear flavors, acid bright, chalky, 93 McD points under $21. A true bargain is Oak Grove SB Reserve. The 2018 is excellent, and get this, 89 points and $80 for a case of mags or 750s. Citrus, green apple and tropical fruit ride a crisp medium frame. Vintage-specific although the ‘16 and ‘17 are OK. Nobilo 2018 Icon (Marlborough) prices are all over the place, best I could find was $203/case or $18/bottle. Classic NZ Marlborough SB, offers citrus, trop fruit and slightly vegetal aromas with seashell notes. On the palate, snow peas, more trop fruit, touch of salinity; proper citrus acidity supports all through a smooth, creamy finish, 91 McD under $21. Finally, Scenic Root Winegrowers Textbook Vineyard Napa 2017 or ‘18 will take time from your local guy to bring in, 92 points under $25. How about Mt. Beautiful from NZ, love its name but haven’t sampled any; was rated 91, fair value at $24.

Some folks claim they can locate beautiful Pinot Noir that rivals the best Red Burgundies. I have yet to locate one. That said, there are several U.S. locales that produce lovely terroir-driven Pinot Noir, and the winemakers don’t demand a pound of flesh for their product. I look for PN produced in Santa Rita Hills, North Coastal Mendocino and North Coast in Cali. In Oregon, Chehalem Mountains Ribbon Ridge (Mike Etzel’s Beaux Freres, 95 at $90; Etzel is a great winemaker) Brick House 2016, 94 points at $52, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, Umpqua Valley near Roseburg. Here I like Abacela. They live outside the Oregon box and produce wine normally associated with Portugal and Spain: Tempranillo, Albarino, Dolcetto, Tinto Amarela, Graciano, an excellent Malbec and Port. All are grown in small, defined lots on the slopes of a cone-shaped foothill for maximum terroir effect. Clever viticulture. Barbara and  I visited in 2016. Their vineyards and buildings were very carefully groomed. Always a good omen. Their Barrel Select Malbec rated 91 McD, 2011-15 around $30/bottle. Abacela also does a good job with big bottles for those who like unique.

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