New tariffs: Hundreds of speciality products from Europe have been hit with new US tariffs, including French wine, single-malt Scotch whisky, and Italian cheeses. The tariffs, which may go into effect as early as October 18, are in retaliation for the EU’s subsidization of Airbus. [Reuters]
Remembering Jean-Bernard Delmas: Winemaker Jean-Bernard Delmas has died at age 83. He was best known for his time at Château Haut-Brion, where he was born—his father was the estate manager—and worked for decades. Delmas was with Domaine Clarence Dillon, which includes Haut-Brion, for 42 vintages. He more recently worked and consulted at Château Montrose. [Wine Spectator]
Another Naked Wines sale: Naked Wines has sold fine wine merchant Lay & Wheeler to Coterie Limited, a privately held family business, for £11.3 million. Lay & Wheeler was founded in 1854 and purchased by Naked Wines in 2009. This summer, Naked Wines sold Majestic Wine for £100 million. [Decanter]
Oversupply in CA: The California wine industry is facing a major oversupply problem. Signs of the surplus first appeared last year, with the 2018 harvest bringing the highest yields in decades, leaving wineries with excess inventory. Many now question whether the industry is approaching an economic downturn. [SF Chronicle]
Priorat & fashion: Eric Asimov considers the factors that encourage changing styles and fashion in the world of wine, using Priorat as an example. With the peak of its popularity around 2010, the style of Priorat has evolved over the last two decades. Though still big wines, they show more finesse and precision in recent vintages. [NYT]
Best vineyards: The company William Reed, which house the International Wine Challenge competition, has launched a new annual ranking, the World’s Best Vineyards. The selection of the 50 estates is made by considering site, experience, and the resulting wine. Jancis Robinson considers its purpose and relevance. [JancisRobinson.com]
Our favorite SevenFifty Daily article this week
Unpacking minerality: When it comes to the term minerality, some still understand it to mean that material from the soil is carried up a vine’s roots and into the fruit, yet scientific research has clearly established that this is false. People can, however, taste nutrient minerals, though this hasn’t been studied as it pertains to wine. While confusing, the word still seems useful in the metaphoric sense. [SevenFifty Daily]
What do you think?
What do you expect will come of the new tariffs?
Have you heard reports from California winemakers about oversupply? What do you think is next for the region?
What do you think of Priorat and its changing style over the past two decades? What do you think are the key factors in the evolution of wine fashions?
What are your thoughts on the Best Vineyards concept?
Do your guests use and understand the term "minerality"? Do you still find it useful?
What else have you been reading this week?
Rob McMillan over at Silicon Valley Bank has reported about the double problems facing the wine industry of decreasing demand and increasing supply here. I have to wonder if this will help with some of the sky-rocketing prices that we've been seeing in retail, especially at the "luxury" end of the market. My inner pragmatist says probably not, especially in the wake of the new tariffs on imports. If anything, there will be a bottoming out at the low end of the market.
Happily my employer can pack the cellar before the tariffs bite; but most restaurants can't tie up that much working capital. If you're a French, Spanish or German-themed restaurant buying just what you need to pour, these tariffs could be painful.
The tariffs will succeed only in making sure the consumer (ourselves included) pay more for something because of petty politics...