France Overtakes Italy in Wine Production for 2014

By Jack Brostrom
November 5, 2014
Posted November 5, 2014

The OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine) has released its early estimates of the global wine production volume for 2014, and as expected, it’s France’s turn at the head of the pack this year.

Top 15 wine-producing countries 2014After two disappointing harvests in a row, France’s 2014 harvest came in above average in volume, while Italy suffered from excessive rain and had a below average year. The OIV estimates the production in France will reach 46.2 million hectoliters (the equivalent of 513 million cases), up 10 percent over 2013. Italy, meanwhile, is down about 15 percent, at 44.4 million hectoliters (494 million cases).

The WineNews reports that harvests were down throughout Italy except in the island regions of Sicily and Sardinia, which actually had better than normal harvests. As is always the case, a poor harvest means a smaller production volume, but not necessarily poor quality. It will be one of those years when quality will be more producer dependent, with talented winemakers showing their ability to meet the challenges. Some of the comments the WineNews received in a survey of leading producers from around the country included:

  • Michele Chiarlo in Piedmont said, “We’ve seen worse,” and added, “The Nebbiolo from Barbaresco will be better than that from Barolo.”
  • Franco Allegrini in Valpolicella noted that “The final 50 days without rain produced very good results.”
  • Marco Caprai in Montefalco observed, “Sagrantino, a late-ripening grape, had the opportunity to take advantage of a very good end of the season. But those who do not have the knowhow may not have had anything to bring into the cellar.”
  • In Tuscany, Sergio Zingarelli of Rocca delle Macie called the quality of the harvest in Chianti Classico “better than expected.” Enrico Viglierchio of Castello Banfi in Montalcino thought the year would have “pleasing but less structured wines” and would be down 15 to 20 percent in quantity. And nearby in Bolgheri, Leonardo Raspini of Ornellaia agreed that the wines would have “a nice aromatic definition, but with less firm structure.”
  • Piero Mastroberardino in Campania said, “We can’t complain, but the reduction in quantity is not insignificant.”
  • On the other hand, Francesco Cambria of Cottanera in Sicily thought 2014 was “the best year for 7 years, in particular on Etna,” while Mariano Murro of Argiolas called 2014 “the best vintage for 24 years” in Sardinia.

In other results reported by OIV, Spain is back to its usual spot as the third largest producer after last year’s enormous harvest placed it temporarily ahead of France. Behind Spain, the United States remains comfortably at #4, with an estimated 22.5 million hectoliters (250 million cases).

Among the other countries in the top 10, the only shift in position was Chile, which had a 20 percent smaller harvest and dropped from #6 to #9. Germany had a 15 percent increase in production, but remained at #10. New Zealand (now #14) also saw a dramatic increase of 30 percent, from a smaller base.

For the full set of statistics, click here.

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