The selection of seven Kiwi wine brands on an international top 50 list shows why the country's annual export wine sales have quadrupled to more than $1 billion, an industry group says.

New Zealand brands Brancott Estate, Oyster Bay, Cloudy Bay, Villa Maria, Babich, Wither Hills, and Nobilo respectively ranked 14th, 17th, 22nd, 31st, 44th, 46th and 48th in the Drinks International journal's "world's most admired wine brands" list.

They featured alongside some of the world's best-known brands - among them Spain's Torres, Australia's Penfolds and France's Chateau Margaux - after being selected by a panel of 60 leading international wine experts.

NZ Winegrowers global marketing director Chris Yorke said he had never seen such a strong showing in an international selection.


"We are a producer of premium wines - and what has been recognised is our brands stand up to the likes of Chateau Margaux, Ridge and DRC [Domaine de la Romanee-Conti] in the global market," he said.

"We don't produce $1000 wines, but we also don't produce $5 wines - our market is mainly between the $20 and $50 mark, and we do really well."

Mr Yorke said New Zealand's success on the world wine stage had been gradually building.

Overseas, its wine was renowned for its quality, sustainability and diversity.

"We started winning competitions 25 or 30 years ago with our sauvignon blanc, and we are now getting recognition for our chardonnay, pinot noir and other red wines.

We have always focused on the premium end of the market, and I think that's the key thing here."

At the same time, annual export sales had risen from $300 million eight years ago to around $1.2 billion today, with 53 per cent of sales going to China.

"We see China as a high-end market - it's certainly not a dumping ground - and it's another place for us to establish the New Zealand wine brand as one of the premium brands around the world."

In a blind taste test last year, the Royal Household wine committee chose two New Zealand wines for the Queen's collection.

The committee selected 40 cases of Villa Maria Estate's private bin sauvignon blanc and 30 cases of Palliser Estate Wine's Pencarrow sauvignon blanc 2010 for inclusion in Her Majesty's 5000-bottle wine cellar.

The top five brands in the Drinks International list were Concha y Toro, Torres, Antinori, Penfolds and Jacob's Creek.

1: Concha y Toro
2: Torres
3: Antinori
4: Penfolds
5: Jacob's Creek

Our top drops
14: Brancott Estate
17: Oyster Bay
22: Cloudy Bay
31: Villa Maria
44: Babich
46: Wither Hills
48: Nobilo