If You Read Anything This Week: Wine News 12/6/2019

Jean Gautreau dies: Jean Gautreau of Sociando-Mallet in Bordeaux has died at age 92. After years of working as a wine broker, in 1969 he bought the rundown Sociando-Mallet estate, with just 12 acres of vines and no cellar. He revived the estate, which today produces 37,500 cases annually. Gautreau was also a négociant from 1957 to 2000. [Wine Spectator]

Château d’Esclans sale: LVMH has purchased a controlling stake in Château d’Esclans, producer of rosé wines Whispering Angel, Rock Angel, and Garrus. LVMH acquired the 50% stake ceded by co-owner Hervé Vinciguerra and an additional 5% from Sacha Lichine, who retains the remaining stakes in the business. [The Drinks Business]

More US tariff threats: US trade officials said they are considering imposing import tariffs of up to 100% on certain French products, including sparkling wine and many cheeses. They say that France’s new digital services tax discriminates against US tech companies. Separately, officials have raised the possibility of increasing or expanding the taxes on various European goods that began in October. [Decanter]

New DO Rueda classifications:  summarizes the overhaul of DO Rueda’s pliego de condiciones. “Rueda” will now appear alone on labels, without grape names. The “Vino de Pueblo” label can be used for village denominations—there are nearly 70. The “Rueda Pálido” label (note this one, as it was mistranslated in the article that appeared in The Drinks Business) allows for a Sherry-like oxidative wine, traditional in Rueda and now with official status. [Hudin.com]

Surprising Ballast Point sale: Ballast Point has been sold to a small, little-known Chicago area brewery, Kings & Convicts, after being acquired by Constellation just four years ago for $1 billion. Kings & Convicts produces 660 barrels a year—compared to Ballast Point’s 200,000. The acquisition was made thanks to new Kings & Convicts investor Richard Mahoney, chairman of The Wine Group. He is now the largest stakeholder, followed by the co-founders of Kings & Convicts. [Eater, Chicago Tribune]

Memorable wines of 2019: Eric Asimov shares his most memorable wines tasted in 2019. His list includes a “new-wave,” unfortified Douro; Nebbiolo from the Yarra Valley; and aged wines such as a 1942 Rioja from Bodegas Riojanas and a 1985 Heitz Cabernet. [NYT]

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on LVMH's investment in the rosé category through Château d'Esclans?

How has your corner of the business reacted to recent waves and threats of tariffs?

What do you think of the new classifications in DO Rueda?

What's your reaction to the Ballast Point sale?

Share your most memorable wines from 2019.

What else have you been reading this week?

  • The tariff increase forced me to change my house white, as it took the existing one out of range for the price point, but that's the only impact so far for me.  A 100% tariff on sparkling wine would make things... difficult.