The Italian wine industry is experiencing a boom period that is quite unlike any that it has enjoyed through its long and storied history. Long gone are the days when local producers were limited to selling their wares only at the nearest towns. Today, even the smallest of wineries can gain all the exposure they need thanks to the Internet, which has played a large part in the country gaining the distinction of being the largest winemaker in the world, an accolade that it earned after producing and selling more quality wines than all of its nearest competitors, including its most fierce rival of France.
2015 was a year of unabashed success for the country’s wine producers for a number of reasons. A superb harvest allowed more wines to be produced, particularly in regions like Piedmont, which in turn allowed for greater volumes to be made available to an expanding market. It is also the year that Italy overtook France as the leading wine country in the world. Better yet, the country’s most famous sparkling white wine – Prosecco – overtook Champagne in popularity in many territories, not least of which is the UK, which has long enjoyed a love affair with sparkling wines. In fact, this rise was so dramatic that there were some fears that supply would actually run out, however, that has thankfully not been the case.
It would be a tough act for any year to follow, however, thankfully for the Italian wine industry, 2016 appears to have shone favourably on the country again. Here we will take a brief look at some of the reasons why 2016 has also been a great year for Italian wine.
Over the course of the last few years Italian wine producers have been expanding into uncharted territories. Placing particular focus on the Asian markets, the country has started a campaign that it hopes will see it catch up to other countries that perhaps saw the potential in territories like China and India before them.
While Italy is still playing catch up in such areas, 2016 has seen the country’s reach expand tremendously, which has raised the profile of the industry and, by extension, the many producers it contains enormously.
At this point in time, six percent of all of the wines sold in China come from Italy. While this is a fairly small number, it still represents an enormous leap for a country that had previously not given the territory its due. Italy now stands as the sixth largest exporter of wines into the country and there are plenty of signs that the Chinese markets are developing a greater understanding of the Italian wine culture and its rich history, which should set the stage for continued expansion.
The most obvious demonstration of this is the fact that China now has an official Italian Wine Day. A cooperative effort on the part of Vintaly and the Alibaba group, which is the largest online retail platform in the country, September 9th was marked as the official celebration of everything that the Italian wine industry brings to the table, in addition to acting as a way to gain exposure in the country.
There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure these expansion efforts are successful in the long-term, however, 2016 was largely spent building the groundwork that will hopefully lead to the Italian wine industry enjoying unprecedented success in largely unexplored territories.
Profiting From The Past
While we spend a lot of time looking back on the past histories of many of the producers that we feature here at Xtrawine, in this specific case we are looking back to the very recent past. So recent, in fact, that it occurred last year.
Yes, as previously mentioned 2015 was a bumper year for the Italian harvest, with favourable conditions leading to the country being capable of growing grapes in larger volumes than its nearest competitor, France.
This means that the Italian wine industry is even better placed to satisfy the continually growing demand for the product. Of course, this would mean little if focus on the quality of wines that comes from the country was lost, however, we are delighted to report that all of our early experiences with the vintages that have emerged from 2015 suggest that quality is just as high as quantity.
Simply put, there has perhaps never been a better time to be an Italian wine producer than right now. Favourable weather conditions have been an enormous help and, thanks to the Internet, the infrastructure now exists for the industry to take full advantage of this increase in production.
This brings us to the 2016 harvest. While perhaps not as productive as the previous year’s, thanks in large part to unexpected hail storms during the summer in the north and heavier rainfall towards the end of the growing season in the south, the early reports suggest that this has done nothing to quell the quality of the grapes that are coming out of the country.
All of this means that the reputation that Italy has been building over the last few years, which has been reinforced and built upon during a 2015 that will surely go down in history as one of the best years for the industry in recent memory, can be continued through the production of great Italian wines.
From Piedmont to Tuscany, dedicated producers have been giving their all to ensure Italy’s status as the top producer in the world is not a one-off success. While some are saying that the results of the 2016 harvest are still a little too early to call, early news appears to be positive, which can only be a boon for an industry that is undertaking expansion at a surprising rate.
So let’s raise a glass to a successful 2016. I’m sure you will join the team at Xtrawine in wishing Italian winemakers the best of luck with the latest harvest and continued success in all of their endeavors.