SPAIN overtook France as the world’s second largest exporter of wine in terms of volume behind Italy last year.

Spanish wine exports were expected to have reached 16.5 million hectolitres in 2008, a world market share of 19 per cent, compared with 15 per cent for France, at 13.6 million hectolitres.

The change has been put down to a series of bad harvests in France. Last year, was the worst harvest since 1991.

The European Union now has less than half of the world’s vineyards, compared with 60 to 65 per cent only 20 years ago, Castellucci said.