Who’s No. 1 in wine?

After generations of languishing in the second tier, the United States now consumes more wine than any other country in the world. But don’t start chanting “We’re No. 1!” just yet.

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You see, although Americans topped the charts by sipping more than 3.2 billion liters of wine in 2014, according to California’s Wine Institute, there are a lot of us. All that wine works out to a little more than 13 standard wine bottles apiece, placing us at a puny 55th place in the world wine-per-capita sweepstakes.

Yes, we know that most of us reading this article are doing far more than our share, but let’s face it: When it comes to serious wine consumption, we are a long way behind tiny Andorra, where popular ski destinations add to a world-record thirst that prompts average consumption of 80 bottles a year.

Following Andorra in the top ten, according to an article today in Britain’s The Telegraph, are Vatican City, a record perhaps bolstered by Communion wine; then Croatia, Portugal, France, Slovenia, Macedonia, the Falkland Islands (yes, you heard that right), Switzerland, and, rounding out the top ten, Italy with about 45 bottles per person per year.

World Wine Consumption Per Capita. (Telegraph Travel)

World Wine Consumption Per Capita. (Telegraph Travel)

In case you were curious, Americans are clearly bolstering our substantial domestic production with plenty of imports: Although we’re drinking more wine than any other nation, we rank only a still-respectable fourth place in wine production, behind France and Italy, who jostle in a near dead heat, with Spain a more distant third.

Since we’re not making as much as we drink (not to mention our own small but not trivial stream of exports), we need to bring in wines from around the world to fill the gap. And I, for one, am very glad that we do. In happy recognition of the world of wines that’s available for our enjoyment, I’m reporting this week on a very good, fine-value Italian red from an unfamiliar section of a familiar region – the not-so-well-known Maremma section along the seacoast of much-better-known Tuscany.

In the modern “Super-Tuscan” tradition, although not at a Super-Tuscan price, Tenuta La Badiola “642 Il Canapone” offers a mouth-watering red blend of the classic Italian grapes Sangiovese and Montepulciano with Cabernet, Merlot, and other varieties historically associated with France.

If you love Italy and all its wine and food as much as I do, you’ll want to join us this month in Wine Focus, our popular monthly wine forum discussion topic. Click February Wine Focus: Italy, and bring your tasting notes, comments and questions about any and all Italian wines.


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Today’s Tasting Report

Tenuta La Badiola 2013 “642 Il Canapone” Maremma Toscana ($18.99)

Tenuta La Badiola

An unusual six-way blend of organically farmed grapes, the Italian varieties Sangiovese and Montepulciano with the French varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Syrah, this is a very dark purple wine shading to a bright garnet edge. Blackberries, dried cherries and a pleasant, restrained touch of vanilla in the aroma lead into an appealing medium-bodied flavor of ripe black fruit nicely balanced with crisp, refreshing acidity, joined by palatable tannins in a very long finish. Good balance and structure carry its 14 percent alcohol with grace. U.S. importer: WinesU, Eddystone, Pa. (Feb. 5, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: It went very nicely with a rich mushroom risotto; it would certainly sing with the more traditional match of rare beef or lamb.

WHEN TO DRINK: Although this isn’t the kind of cellar treasure that will gain investment value over time, there’s certainly no hurry to drink it, and it might benefit from three or four years under good, constant-temperature cellar conditions.

My local $19 price tag is a few bucks above the $15 average U.S. retail reported by Wine-Searcher.com, with some vendors offering it around $12, so it would pay to shop around if you can. Still, it’s a very good Tuscan red, and I don’t feel bad about getting it for less than $20.

Here’s a fact sheet on the “642” from importer WinesU.

Find vendors and compare prices for Tenuta La Badiola “642 Il Canapone” Maremma Toscana on Wine-Searcher.com.

U.S. consumers can also find distributors in every state on the importer’s “Locate Our Wines” page.


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