When it comes to imports, we American wine lovers are getting picky. We’re passing on foreign wines priced $20 and below but buying more imported wines priced higher.
Experts say it shows affluent wine buyers have fully recovered from the 2008 economic downturn and are ready to indulge themselves in better wines.
Imported wines priced $20 and under declined by 5.7 percent to 98 million cases, according to the trade website Shanken News Daily. It was the sixth decline in the past seven years. Six of the top 10 brands declined.
Expensive imports from Europe have become cheaper to Americans because the euro has declined sharply. One euro cost $1.46 in 2008; today it’s about $1.14.
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Several recent strong harvests in California wine country have also increased the supply of domestic wines, competing with imports. But that might be in jeopardy soon with the West Coast’s increasing water shortage.
The import trend might not last very long, however. Economists predict West Coast winemakers might have trouble meeting demand over the next 10 years. And prices might rise if the water shortage continues, according to The Wine Economist website.
So it might be smart to stock up on European wines — both under and over $20. Here are some that I like:
▪ 2012 Joseph Drouhin Vosne-Romanée Village, Côte de Nuits, Burgundy (100 percent pinot noir): aromas of violets, concentrated flavors of black cherries and earth, long, powerful finish, resolved tannins; $100.
▪ 2013 Casillero del Diablo “Devil’s Collection Red,” by Concha y Toro, Rapel Valley, Chile (60 percent syrah, 25 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent carménère): aromas and flavors of red plums and mocha, long finish, mellow tannins; $15.
▪ 2012 Kumeu River Pinot Gris, Kenu, Auckland, New Zealand (100 percent pinot gris): floral aromas, flavors of ripe apricots, dry, crisp and fruity; $24.
▪ 2014 Urban Riesling Qba, Mosel Valley, Germany (100 percent riesling): floral aromas, flavors of ripe pears and minerals, light and crisp; $14.
▪ 2012 “Rib Shack Red,” by Douglas Green, Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa: (60 percent pinotage, 40 percent shiraz): hint of smoky oak, flavors of black cherries and spice, very smooth, ripe tannins; $10.
▪ 2013 Trapiche “Broquel” Chardonnay, Finca Los Arboles, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (100 percent chardonnay): Soft and a bit sweet, with aromas and flavors of ripe apples and spice; $18.
▪ 2010 Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, by Masi Agricola DOCG, Veneto, Italy (corvine, rondinella, molinara): deep red hue, powerful flavors of black plums, licorice and cloves, full-bodied, dry, big, ripe tannins; $70.
▪ 2013 Decopas Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza, Argentina (100 percent sauvignon blanc): light, crisp and dry, with floral aromas and white grapefruit flavors; $12.
▪ 2010 Chianti Rufina Riserva “Bucerchiale” DOCG (100 percent sangiovese): dark hue, aromas and flavors of tart cherries and bittersweet chocolate, medium body, long finish; $35.
▪ 2010 “Cherubino” Cowaramup Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Australia (100 percent cabernet sauvignon): hint of oak, hearty flavors of black plums and anise, resolved tannins, $54.
▪ 2013 Arido Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (100 percent malbec): dark hue, aromas and flavors of black cherries and chocolate, soft and round; $12.