Inside Wine - December 13th, 2019

Inside Wine (Dec 13th, 2019)

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1. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is considering higher tariffs on European products - including all wines - that could be as high as 100 percent. Having already placed a 25 percent tariff on certain wines coming from Europe that vintners are struggling with, the USTR says it may impose the higher rate early next year. The tariffs are in reaction to issues with EU unfairly subsidizing Airbus and Boeing. The current 25 percent tariffs were imposed on certain wines from four countries. The new, higher tariffs would be on wines from every EU nation and would include sparkling wines, dessert wines, wine in large-format bottles, and wines at all alcohol levels - basically all wines. -- WINE SPECTATOR

2. Federal regulators have changed the terms of the sale of several Constellation Brand-owned companies to Gallo. Earlier this year, E. & J. Gallo Winery agreed to pay $1.7 billion to Constellation Brands Inc. to buy several value wine and spirits companies. Due to anti-competitive concerns, Gallo will now pay only $1.1 billion and three of the brands it was going to purchase, Cook’s California Champagne, J. Roget American Champagne and Paul Masson Grande Amber Brandy, will not be sold to Gallo. -- PRESS DEMOCRAT

3. Follow Friday: Erica Duecy and Emily Saladino

I have a double Follow Friday for you today. As I've reported over the past few weeks, the digital world of wine publications has had several editor shake-ups and moves. Emily Saladino who was the editor at VinePair moved to Wine Enthusiast. And, Erica Duecy, who was the editor at SevenFifty Daily, slid on over to the editor position at VinePair

Because of their positions, both editors post plenty of wine content on Twitter, pointing to articles written for their publications and sometimes engage in conversations about the world of wine. So please follow Erica at @ericaduecy and Emily at @EmilySaladino to get tons of well-written wine content, more than I can ever point you to here in the newsletter. 

4. University of California, Davis, scientists will lead a collaborative effort to study grapevine red blotch disease, which threatens the $162 billion U.S. grape industry. The virus causes red veins and blotches on grape leaves, affecting vines that produce both red and white wine grapes. The fruit on diseased plants is smaller, ripens more slowly, and its sugars and colors are muted. The virus was first identified in 2012 and there still isn't much known about it, and currently, the only solution is to remove an affected vine to stop the disease from spreading. -- UC DAVIS

5. Total Wine wants the Supreme Court to overthrow Connecticut's minimum pricing laws. Connecticut requires alcohol wholesalers to post their prices in advance so competition can match the prices and wholesalers must hold those prices for a month, not offering volume discounts to retailers. Additionally, all wine, beer and spirits must be sold through a wholesaler. Total Wine's lawsuit says that this violates federal anti-trust laws. -- MEINENGER'S

6. As the decade comes to a close, Wine-Searcher takes a look at the priciest wines from the past 10 years. The most expensive was Penfolds Ampoule, although it was much more than just a bottle of wine. For $160,000 buyers got an ampoule (a hand-blown glass, sealed vial) of 750 ml of 2004 Kalimna Bin 42 Cabernet Sauvignon and the offer of the winemaker coming to their homes to open it for them. Only 12 of them were made. -- WINE-SEARCHER

7. Now is the time for American sparkling wine, declares Eric Asimov. The NYT wine critic discusses what American sparkling wines offer and what distinguishes them from other bubblies. Focusing on three bottles, Gruet American Sparkling Wine Brut NV, Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut NV, and Schramsberg North Coast Blanc de Noirs Brut 2015, he points out that good sparkling wines are made throughout the United States. -- NEW YORK TIMES

8. The Hampton Roads region of Virginia gets some respect from Wine Enthusiast. The region in general, which is comprised of the seven core cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton and Suffolk, is "quietly building a notable wine region to call its own." It contains road-trip worthy wineries, wine bars, wine shops and restaurants with stellar wine lists. -- WINE ENTHUSIAST

9. First estimate's say South Africa's 2020 wine grape harvest will be comparable to 2019 but smaller than the past five-year average.  The average wine grape crop over the past five years was 1.360 million tons, but 2019's was 1.244 million tons. Analysts believe 2020 may be larger than 2019's but still not up to the average. The harvest in South Africa usually begins in mid-January, and the next harvest estimate will be issued on January 24, 2020. -- WINE.CO.ZA

10. VinePair has released its 50 best wines of the year list. Aside from being rated excellent, all of the wines must be readily available in the U.S., offer great value for the money, and be drinkable right now, which makes this list particularly useful to the everyday wine drinker looking for something good. I like to play a game with these best-of lists and count up how many bottles I've had on them. I've had four bottles from this VinePair list (although some have been different vintages), meaning there are plenty of wines for me to still discover that the drinks site's editors enjoyed. -- VINEPAIR

Robin Shreeves is a wine, beer, spirits and travel writer. She's the wine columnist and restaurant and beverage features writer for the Courier Post newspaper in New Jersey. She holds an Intermediate Sommelier certification from the Wine School of Philadelphia. Her food and drinks writing can be found at Wine Enthusiast, VinePair, Food Network, Spirited magazine, USA Today, Mother Nature Network, Drink Nation, Edible Philly and Edible Jersey. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram at @rshreeves

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