I’ve been leading a ton of Zoom tastings during this quarantine period–a Zoom boom, if you will. We had this pair with a group recently and they really hit the ball out of the park: Pierre Peters, “Cuvée de Réserve,” Champagne and the 2019 rosé from Domaine du Bagnol in Cassis. (Find these wines at retail)

The Pierre Peters has incredible depth of flavor and is on my shortlist for best mulitvintage Champagnes. As Rodolphe Peters explained to me in my visit last year, it is entirely from the estate’s 19.98 hectares–fully half the fruit comes from the famed Les Chétillions vineyard. It has a big helping of the reserve wine, which is from a “perpetual reserve” (solera) started in 1998. Rodolphe said that he really wants this “flagship wine” to be “exceptional” because it will be most people’s first experience with their wines. Based on our Zoom call over the weekend, he just made a lot of people happy.

Rounding out our Mother’s Day duo, we had a stunner from the minuscule appellation of Cassis. Snuggled right on the Mediterranean between Marseille and Toulon and a national park, the tiny appellation has only 200 hectares (500 acres) of vineyards and a dozen producers. Domaine du Bagnol’s 7 hectares (17 acres) lies a short walk from the charming fishing village, under the spectacular bluff of the Cap Canaille. The estate has been certified organic since 2014 and this wine draws on grenache (55%), mourvedre (31%), and cinsault (14%). Although 2019 was a hot vintage, the wine is really stunning. It opened a lot of eyes to the potential of rosé being a wine of substance, rather than a toss-it-back quaffer. According to Rosenthal, the importer, only 500 cases of this make it to our shores. Run, don’t walk!


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I have led a couple of dozen during the quarantine, mostly for private groups and corporations looking to reconnect. While they do have certain limitations, namely, the fact that it’s hard for most people to open more than two bottles a night, they do have advantages including being able to display maps and photos and videos more easily than in many group settings.

betternet破解版最新apkOne other huge advantage is that we can be joined by winemakers! Such is the case for a public tasting I am leading on Thursday, 5/28 at 6 PM eastern. Anthony Filiberti, winemaker at Anthill Farms in Sonoma, will join us. I ask him a few questions, then we will taste the elegant Anthill, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir 2018 together and have a general discussion. (find this wine) So grab a bottle if you can, or even if you can’t, join us on Zoom!



Tariffs of 100% may soon hit European wines in America. The price of some wines will double. But mostly it will mean that many of the most coveted wines will no longer be available. The comment period ends today at midnight over at the site of the United States Trade Representative. Fully 24,071 people have submitted comments. Add yours! My take on the situation is that it’s a code red: after “big, beautiful” negotiation with China and a new agreement in North America, the administration is more likely to turn to Europe. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail…Anyway, I made a pie chart! It shows that more American businesses profit from a bottle of European wine than the producer. Overly simple, but trying to make the point that these tariffs are an own goal.

Here are three pieces I wrote on tariffs for Wine & Spirits magazine last month. And here’s my letter to the USTR:

January 13, 2020

Ambassador Robert Lighthizer,

I am writing to express my concern regarding the escalation of tariffs on wine. Read more…



Another day, another wine tariff post…

Last week, news trickled out that the US Trade Representative might raise the tariff on European wine to 100%. Oh, and the tariff on 31-pages of other items. Unsatisfied with progress in the aircraft dispute with Airbus, which was the cause of the 25% tariff imposed on some European wines on October 18, the USTR has threatened to take it to 100.

I discussed the issue with Blake Murdock of Rare Wine Co, Dixon Brooke of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, and Rocco Lombardo of Wilson Daniels. Each of them is taking a different approach–I filed two stories for Wine & Spirits magazine that you should check out.

If you don’t want European wine prices to double next year in this country, make your comments heard over at betternet破解版android. Comments accepted until January 13.

Ugh. How long will they last, if imposed? It’s anybody’s guess.

Full list of items in the federal register



Late yesterday, the US Trade Representative unsheathed a champagne saber. But it wasn’t for sabering champagne in celebration; rather, it was for dealing it a blow by threatening tariffs of 100%. French sparkling wine (not still wine) as well as cheese, handbags, makeup and enamelware would be affected. (See the whole list here.)

While that would be very bad news for consumers as well as producers, there is some cause for guarded optimism. This was, after all, saber rattling, not actually putting the tariffs into effect. The core issue here is a “digital tax” that France has imposed on big tech companies, mostly American, doing business in France. France has threatened to retaliate if the tariffs announced yesterday (not the ones from October!–do try to keep up) are imposed so maybe it is all just a bargaining position? And there’s Trump’s relationship with LVMH founder Bernard Arnault, Betternet安卓版下载, which may have played a part in why champagne, handbags and cognac were not on the first round of tariffs.

But, of course, there’s also the case for pessimism: this is the self-proclaimed “tariff man” whose relationship with Macron has deteriorated. There’s a lot of uncertainty in trade these days. Importers may plan for the worst case and bring in boatloads (or planeloads) of bubbly as soon as they can to duck under the wire of a potential tariff. Sadly, if enacted, this will be fatal to the category of crémant wines, sparkling wines from France outside of Champagne. While many of them are very good wines, their main selling point is value, which the tariffs would obliterate.

Napoleon supposedly said about champagne that in victory you deserve it while in defeat you need it. An important corollary to that all-purpose reason for popping bubbly next year might be “providing you can afford it.”

A hearing is scheduled on the champagne tariffs for January 7 in Washington DC.


wine maps atlas“Wine is geography in a glass,” Hugh Johnson said recently. He and Jancis Robinson were in town to promote the new edition of the World Atlas of Wine. He said that back in 1970, the publisher was unsure if a book of wine maps would really fly. So he had to impress upon the publisher how wine and maps were a natural fit. The market shouted a reply: by 1973, the book had sold 500,000 copies. Lifetime, he said, the volume has sold more than 5 million copies.

The book gained a new lease on life when Jancis Robinson became a co-author in the fifth edition. Jancis and her team do the heavy lifting now and this eighth edition has been fully revised. The tome has added new areas of coverage such as the Savoie and the Judean Hills. In all, it has 300,000 words, 230 maps, 400+ pages and weighs almost five pounds. Even with all this heft, it is admittedly not going to be the last word on any region. But, because of its breadth, it is often the first word for many readers, particularly on far-flung regions.

Someone recently asked me what is the one wine book I would recommend: this is it. If you are trying to generally to learn more about wine and have a slightly more than casual interest, and are not looking for a edge-of-your-seat narrative, this is the one for you. I consult to a restaurant where I put together the wine list and work with the staff. I have this book on the shelf there. It is essential. I use it all the time to show where wines hail from. It’s useful to drill down from a country map, to a regional map and then even villages to let the staff and even some guests see where the wines come from.

There is really a ton of interest in wine maps. Many are available on the internet, but it is fun to really pore over a map in your hands, such as this World Atlas of Wine, or hang them on the wall. Steve DeLong has been making the latter for a decade now, blending his architect’s visual sensibility with his love and knowledge of wine. He has a Betternet安卓版下载 going now for a new product, “Wine Maps of the World.” This set of foldable maps blend cartographic precision with a good design aesthetic. His kickstarter campaign has raised/sold $50,000 and has four days to go.


The Kincade fire has already burned 54,000 acres in Sonoma County, roughly the size of the area also under vine. There have been mandated evacuations of 180,000 residents and the 3,400 first responders have it only 5% contained. Strong winds have blowing sparks and embers huge distances but the winds are moderating. The governor has declared a state of emergency. Power outages have further disrupted many lives in the Bay Area.

It is terrible. Follow Twitter #kincadefire for the latest updates. Fortunately, for all the loss of property, no human lives have been lost. Please post in the comments about places where we can donate to help. Symbolically, buying a bottle of Sonoma wine could help show that we are thinking of them.

And then there are they Getty and Tick fires in Southern California…

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How did champagne dodge the tariff bullet?

For those looking to explain the oddities of the recent tariffs on French wine, a clue may have come last week in Texas.

But first, those oddities. It is not really going out on a limb to say that this administration has a haphazard, govern-by-tweet style of policymaking. So it should not be a surprise that there were some head-scratchers in the wines affected by tariffs. since not all of the $2.1 billion of wines that the US imported from France last year were included. Notably omitted from the list was the high-value category of champagne (sparkling wines were all exempted). Cognac and French spirits were not affected, another large, high-value. (And neither were French handbags or fashion–by contrast, cashmere sweaters from Scotland were hit). And wines over 14% alcohol were not affected. And those in “containers” of over two liters. And Italian wines were exempted since Italy is not a part of Airbus–yet parmigiano reggiano was hit with a 25% tariff? Hmmm…

For a possible clue for explaining some of those loopholes, we take you to Johnson County, Texas Read more…



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