Champagne sales plummet in 2009: industry

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Champagne exports fell by 28 percent last year at the height of the global economic crisis in a "catastrophic" year for the industry, a French alcohol business body said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Paris, Claude de Jouvencel, head of the Federation of French Exporters of Wine and Spirits, or FEVS under its French acronym, also said any market recovery in 2010 would be "meagre."

De Jouvencel said exports would rise "at most by five percent."

The total value of wine and spirits exports fell by 17 percent to 7.7 billion euros (10.5 billion dollars), FEVS figures showed, with big names like Mumm (-11 percent) and Bordeaux wines (-23 percent) particularly hard hit.

Exports fell by 23 percent for Britain and 30 percent for the US.

Ghislain de Montgolfier, FEVS's champagne expert, said the champagne industry's big hitters were only saved by massive loans from banks that totalled around one billion euros (1.4 billion dollars).

The sparkling wine is made in the Champagne region in France.

The only type of wine whose exports actually grew in 2009 was the cheaper table wine, which rose by 0.3 percent. De Jouvencel said consumers were also increasingly drinking at home instead of in restaurants to save money.