The biggest and the best

Which country was the world’s biggest wine producer in 2014?

  1. France
  2. Italy
  3. Spain

Provisional statistics just released by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) and published on the world’s largest wine website reveals that France was first with 46.2m hectolitres (hl), Italy came second (44.4m hl) and Spain finished third (37m hl). The “Big Three” together make nearly half the world’s wine. Italy was top dog last year but got elbowed out by France after poor summer weather resulted in a sharp drop in the grape harvest. Spain can boast the greatest number of grapevines but this mostly arid country produces less grapes per vine than its compatriots.

You may be surprised to learn that China produced an estimated 12m hl of wine in 2014, more than South Africa (11.4m hl) or Chile (10m hl). The OIV confessed that China hasn’t yet provided them with the latest figures so they used their 2013 production figures. China, South Africa and Chile are 7th, 8th and 9th respectively in the world wine production rankings. China is nibbling at Australia’s heels and could quite possibly have overtaken Australia when their actual 2014 wine output is known. Australia is the world’s sixth largest wine producer with 12.6m hl. Don’t go looking for Chinese wine at your local supermarket or wine store – the world’s most populous country drinks almost all of its growing wine production.

New Zealand enjoyed a 29% jump in wine production this year, enough to move us ahead of Greece and Brazil into 13th place in the world order.

Can you guess which countries ranked fourth and fifth with 22.5m hl and 15.2 m hl respectively? The answer is USA and Argentina.

Biggest and best seem to go hand in hand with wine, at least in the case of France. In Jancis Robinson’s ground-breaking book “Vines, Grapes & Wines” she identifies the world’s top eleven grape varieties. France makes the best examples of nine of those, Germany makes the world’s best Riesling while New Zealand produces the top Sauvignon Blanc.

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2014 – $24.50

This is the best current vintage Sauvignon Blanc I’ve tasted to date. It’s a deliciously restrained Sauvignon Blanc with a great texture and concentrated citrus and pink grapefruit flavours. Best of all the wine has the sort of ethereal texture that encourages me to reach for another glass. – view on

Mount Vernon Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2014 – $16.99

My best value Sauvignon Blanc is a second label from the excellent producer, Lawson’s Dry Hills, at a quality level that beats many more expensive wines. Lighter style Sauvignon Blanc with guava, grapefruit, apple and a hint of passion fruit. Tangy, easy-drinking wine in a truly dry style with bright, fresh varietal characters. – view on

First published in KiaOra Magazine – Jan 2015.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *