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Decline of French wine leaves bitter aftertaste

05.04.2016

Decline of French wine leaves bitter aftertaste

France was gripped by anguish on Sunday over the loss of its place as the world’s largest wine producer and exporter, “dethroned” by Italy and Spain.

France falls from her pedestal,” lamented Le Parisien newspaper, which devoted its first three pages to the bitter revelation. “Some news is hard to swallow.”

It said the 2015 figures from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine showed France had been “dethroned by Italy, teased by Chile and Argentina, and tormented by South Africa and California.”

Only a year ago, when the figures for 2014 were released, France’s 140,000 winegrowers toasted their success in regaining the throne after a brief spell in second place.

France bore the title of the world’s largest wine producer with pride until 2011, when Italy moved into the lead. Gallic winemakers battled back, however, and after 2014’s poor harvest in Italy, France regained supremacy.

The sweet taste of triumph proved short-lived. Despite a slight increase in France’s output to more than 47 million hectolitres, Italy overtook its northern rival, producing nearly 49 million hectolitres.

It is now a double blow as Spain, which remains in third place as a producer, took France’s mantle of the world’s top exporter last year with soaring overseas sales - with the French the biggest buyers.

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