If You Read Anything This Week: Wine News 2/14/2020

Tariff impacts in France: Though official figures show French wine exports rising 4.4% by value in 2019, this number obscures the impact of the tariffs. Exports rose as US merchants tried to bring in wine ahead of the tariffs, but nonetheless, shipments of bottled still wines dropped 17.5% in Q4 of 2019, equivalent to €40 million in lost sales. [Decanter]

Tariff update pending: The US Trade Representative (USTR) is expected to make another decision this week, potentially today, regarding last year’s 25% tariffs related to the Airbus dispute, with the threatened 100% tariffs one of the possibilities. Statistics now show that US imports of EU wines decreased by 48% in November. [Wine Enthusiast]

To Kalon saga: Wine Spectator reports on the ongoing To Kalon disputes. Constellation, which owns most of what is considered To Kalon land as well as associated trademarks, has been aggressively asserting its trademark rights. Graeme MacDonald, who farms land once part of To Kalon Vineyard with his brother, persuaded the US Board on Geographic Names to name the creek near his home To Kalon Creek and has worked to have the vineyard added to the National Register of Historic Places. His supporters include Andy Beckstoffer and Carlo Mondavi. Constellation is challenging both efforts. [Wine Spectator]

Moët Hennessy & sustainability: Moët Hennessy has announced that its entire wine division will be herbicide free by the end of 2020, and its vineyards in Cognac in 2021. Moët also pledged to invest €20 million in a new center in Champagne focused on sustainable viticulture research. [The Drinks Business]

Slow January: Anecdotally, bartenders and bar managers noted a slower-than-usual January. In the UK, retail sales of alcohol were down 20%. Many factors could be to blame: the usual January slump, Dry January, healthy resolutions, or simply cold weather. Regardless, “sobriety” movements among young consumers mean bars must be more creative, with inventive non-alcoholic options, equal service standards for those drinks, events, and the like. [Eater]

Champagne & war: Katherine Cole traces the historic relationship between Champagne and war. Her examples include its rise to become the celebratory beverage of choice after wartime victory, the protection provided by underground caves both in Champagne during WWI and Spain during its Civil War, and the long aging that Giulio Ferrari stumbled into when he abandoned his cellar during wartime. [SevenFifty Daily]

What do you think?

What else have you heard from international markets about the effects of the US tariffs?

If you're working with these European wines in the US, what are you experiencing?

Did your sales seem slower than usual this January? Did you notice any uptick in non-alcoholic options?

What other ways do you see Champagne, or wine in general, tied to war?

What else have you been reading this week?