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Trump's tariffs provide bump for Italian wines

Published:  06 February, 2020

Wine tariffs introduced as part of a transatlantic dispute on aeronautics have provided something of a boost for Italy on the secondary market, with the value of the country’s top wines increasing by an average of 12.5% during 2019 on a leading UK platform. 

According to fine wine trading platform BI Fine Wine & Spirits, Italy had already been witnessing something of an uplift in value before the tariffs were introduced back in October 2019, impacting the price of French, German, Spanish and English and Welsh wine in the US.

Since then however, demand for Italian Wines jumped a further 5% on the site, helping total year average prices for Italy to rise by 12.5%.

Wines from Tuscany, including Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Tignanello, were the best performers, with price appreciation driven both by the tariffs and by a “strong 2016 vintage with a resulting market squeeze on older vintages”, BI said.

“Over the past two years we have seen an increased focus on purchasing Italian wine for investment,” Gary Boom, MD of BI, added.

“Whilst Tuscan wines are not particularly limited in production, they are surprisingly difficult to source in volume on the secondary market, which helps to support price appreciation. The imposed US tariff on French wines has only added to this price support.

“Whilst Italian wines should continue to see positive trading patterns, with the potential for an additional boost if US tariffs remain in place and exclude Italian wines, the sector certainly doesn’t want to see an escalation with greater tariffs imposed, which would be detrimental to the wine trade globally.”

The tariffs are part of an escalating dispute between the US and a number of European countries over the past year, encompassing a number of different industry sectors.

The original tariffs on some EU countries were introduced in October after Trump said funding unfairly advantaged EU civil aviation company Airbus at the expense of US rival, Boeing.

At the time, Rabobank reported that the tariffs – which add 25% to the price of still wine under 14.1% made in France, Germany, Spain and the UK – could push up prices of wine heading to the US wine by as much as 15%.

France, Germany, Spain and the UK were affected because Airbus has production sites in these countries, whereas Italy does not.  

Trump’s threat to then slap 100% tariffs on US$2.4 billion worth of French imports including wine and Champagne in retaliation for France’s digital services tax, has since been put on hold after the countries’ leaders announced a ceasefire on Twitter.

BI Fine Wine & Spirits, which has its own trading platform, LiveTrade, also reported a slight softening of prices for Bordeaux towards the end the year. The region’s top performing wines still finished 2019 up by an average of 8%.

But overall, French wines were impacted by the US tariffs while “the political unrest in Hong Kong – a major trading hub for Bordeaux and Burgundy wines – also impacted activity”, BI said.

Top 10 performing Italian wines in 2019 according to BI Fine Wine & Spirits

Vintage Price per case Price increase in 2019

Sassicaia 2014 £1500 21%

Sassicaia 2015 £2100 20%

Sassicaia 2012 £1500 15%

Solaia 2012 £1700 13%

Sassicaia 2011 £1500 11%

Sassicaia 2016 £2450 11%

Solaia 2011 £1575 10%

Tignanello 2009 £990 10%

Tignanello 2012 £785 8%

Tignanello 2015 £920 8%